Our recommendation is here but first things first.
What on Earth is Collagen?
Doesn’t it plump your lips and tighten your flabby, flapping skin? Why yes, but there’s more.
Collagen is in fact the name of a family of proteins (shouldn’t we say ‘the Collagens’, then, hmm?) that represent the main structural component of connective tissues – such as skin and cartilage.
There are many different types of collagen (cousins, let’s say), in the body, but the vast majority of it and our only concern is type 1, which is found in the skin, tendons, internal organs etc.
That said, its other roles such as blood-clotting are not trivial!
Collagen acts as a binding agent of sorts: in fact its name comes from the greek for ‘glue’ (“kólla”)
And those studies referenced above indicate that taking collagen supplements for several months can improve skin elasticity, (i.e., wrinkles and roughness) as well as signs of aging, increase bone density and can improve joint, back and knee pain
In recent years, it has gained popularity as a nutritional supplement and ingredient in shampoos and body lotions.
Yes, But Where Does Collagen Come From?
Collagen is found in the connective tissues of animal foods. For example, it’s found in large amounts in chicken and pork skin.
All collagen starts off as procollagen.
Your body makes procollagen by combining two amino acids — glycine and proline. This process uses vitamin C.
You can get the specific building blocks for collagen by eating a balanced diet of protein-rich foods (chicken, beef, eggs, dairy, legumes, nuts and whole grains, for example) and a variety of fresh produce, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
But, does consuming collagen-rich foods actually increase the levels of this protein in your body?
That’s a subject of what passes for heated debate in scientific circles. When you eat protein, it’s broken down into amino acids and then reassembled, so the collagen you eat might not translate directly into higher levels in your body.
Yawn. Let’s say it does. Is there anything that isn’t best addressed by a balanced, healthy diet? Turns out, yes.
So, Why Do I Need Supplements
Glad you asked. One, we are not yet sure collagen-rich foods do the trick, per above. But, beyond that, the body’s ability to produce collagen naturally decreases as we age, so problem number 1 is to stop aging so darned fast.
And, guess what? Do you believe in miracles?
(Sorry! Just had to do that link!)
That’s where collagen supplements come in, per the 2019 study we referenced. Collagen peptides added to your diet may serve to replace what your body begins to lack as you age.
Don’t believe us, believe the study referenced above.
Benefits of Collagen Supplements
If we want to bullet point it, the benefits can be summarized dryly as follows – but it’s better than this suggests, per below:
- better skin and hair
- healthier joints
- improved muscle mass
- less bone loss
- improved heart health
1. Do Collagen Supplements Ease the Aging Process? Yes.
As we have noted, your body produces less collagen starting in your thirties and forties. Collagen peptides added to your diet may serve to replace what your body begins to lack as you age, and support your overall health.
2. Does Collagen Repair Skin? Yes.
Skin health must be the most well-researched benefit of taking collagen – and the one that has been popularized for years by celebrities. Here’s a recent 2019 study of 800 patients, taking only ten grams per day.
Skin elasticity, moisture retention, structural skin integrity all improved. In other words, it smoothes your wrinkles and allows your skin to stretch and snap back, just like when you were a kid!
Fountain of youth indeed!
3. Does Collagen Help Ligaments and is it Good for My Joints? Yes
Collagen Alleviates Joint Pains and May Help Joint Disease
Collagen is excellent for supporting connective tissues and relieving joint pain, including after exercise. For example, one study found that athletes with knee pain who took 5 g of collagen peptides daily for 12 weeks had significantly less joint pain. It may also facilitate cartilage repair and have an anti-inflammatory effect.
Additionally, a study from 2016 found that collagen type 2 (remember? One of the cousins finally does something!) helped patients with knee osteoarthritis.
4. Collagen Supplements Promote Gut Health
Collagen is now recognized as one of the key supplements for gut health. Besides providing the building blocks for new collagen in the body, the amino acids delivered by hydrolyzed collage also help to maintain the integrity, growth and function of the intestine. See studies here and here.
Collagen is a part of connective tissue, which makes up your colon and GI tract, so by bringing your levels up, there may be a supportive environment for your body to heal.
5. Collagen & Your Heart – Better Than Booze!
Stirring collagen into your coffee may even be better for your your punch-clock than gin (yes, we know you do that).
A recent study dound that found that daily supplementation with collagen peptides resulted in a significant reduction in the levels of a well-known predictor of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality
An earlier, smaller study indicated that collagen fortifies blood vessel walls, thus lowering the risk of coranary artery disease.
Ah, well – the gin made your skin sag anyway, so its a two-fer.
Bonus Round: Collagen is Good for Those Old Creaking Bones
Bone mineral density decreases as you age, especially after menopause. In a randomized trial of post-menopausal women, collagen peptides were shown to stimulate bone formation while slowing down bone loss.
So, Now What? How Do I Choose a Supplement?
The key is to identify a reputable seller. The main brands are well-known, but we prefer the diversity of collagen offerings provided here – in gummy, powdered or peptide form.
Most collagen supplements are made from fish and animal cartilage, bones and skin, as well as eggshells, which are then broken down with water, or “hydrolyzed.” This makes it easier for your body to absorb collagen. Some supplements come in the form of a capsule or tablet, others are a powder you mix into a hot drink or smoothie every day.
We suggest this outfit, where you can choose all-in-one or targeted solutions, for healthy joints, skin etc. Their supplements are based on hydrolyzed collagen as opposed to gelatin. Gelatin supplements have a lingering unpleasant taste and leave sensations of heaviness and heartburn.