Nourish - What’s the Scoop On: Collagen and Why to Take It
Collagen has in recent years become exceedingly popular, and for good reason. It has numerous benefits ranging from healing the gut to glowing skin.
Maybe you’ve heard about the external benefits of collagen? Claims of reducing fine lines, strengthening nails and supporting healthier hair are commonly spread across beauty products for topical use.
Science is out however and claims that topical products typically have molecules that are too large to fully absorb through the skin.
Because of this, and with ever-expanding research into the benefits of collagen internally, healing the body from the inside out through diet and supplements is the way to go.
What is Collagen?
Collagen is a protein that makes up one-third of all the protein found in the human body. It’s actually the most abundant protein in our bodies.
Collagen is essentially the “glue” that holds us together. It holds our bones, cartilage, tendons muscles, and even our digestive system together. Unfortunately, around the age of 25-30 our natural stores of this protein start to dwindle, and that’s when we may start to say hello to crow’s feet, sagging skin, achy joints and poor digestion.
Furthermore, there are other factors that tend to speed up the natural decline of our collagen, such as smoking, poor diet, excessive alcohol intake, sun damage and even genetics. Menopause is another.
Where Does Collagen Come From?
When you’re looking to buy collagen to support your own levels, most of what you’ll find on the market is bovine or marine. The collagen comes from the bones, skin, hides, cartilage and connective tissue of animals, including cow, chicken and fish predominantly. Marine collagen is created from the scales, bones, skin and fins of fish.
Typically, you’ll find that there are 3 main types all touting their own health benefits. The truth is, however, that although science can see that collagen does indeed help in many areas of health, they don’t have a lot of evidence exactly as to how. Alas, more will be revealed as time goes on.
Furthermore, the body will take any type of collagen and use it for whatever it decides it needs at that point in time. This might be for healing your muscles post-workout. It might be healing the gut, supporting the brain, aiding in metabolism or strengthening your hair. You can’t actually tell your body where you want it to go, but the great thing is, your body will know exactly what to do with it and when.
Nonetheless, with that being said, here’s a general guideline to help out.
Types of Collagen
While there are many different types of collagen, types I, II and III are the most common ones you’ll find in supplements. Bovine collagen contains type I and III. Marine collagen is made up of mostly type I and III. Chicken is made up of type II.
This is the most prevalent type of collagen in the body. It’s the most abundant form found in bones, joints, skin, and organs. It’s the most common in the body, and it provides structure to skin, tendons, bones, ligaments, and other connective tissues. You can find it in both marine and bovine collagen supplements.
This is the main component of cartilage and is great for the skeletal system. It’s also essential for joint health. Type 2 is most commonly found in chicken.
This type works alongside type I in the skin, ligaments, blood vessels, bone marrow and joints. You’ll commonly find these two together in a supplement. Type III is found in bovine collagen but not marine.
What if I am Vegan/Vegetarian?
Truth be told, collagen only comes from animal sources. There are some supplements available that claim to be vegan collagen, however, they’re not actually collagen. They are certainly amazing for helping to support its production, but it itself is not collagen.
For example, Vitamin C is one of the primary nutrients involved in collagen synthesis. Furthermore, many of the ingredients in these supplements contain antioxidants such as lycopene, which help to protect skin from sun damage and collagen breakdown. Having a nutrient-rich diet full of collagen supportive foods is definitely a no-brainer, but they’re not actually collagen. Not yet anyway. Maybe one day they’ll invent something in a lab somewhere!
Whilst science is still figuring out the details, here’s where we are at the moment:
- great for rebuilding your muscles, eyes, bones, and spine
- helps minimize fine lines and wrinkles
- improves skin elasticity
- improves skin hydration
- strengthens your nails
- supports strong, thicker hair growth
- helps heal the gut
- supports joint health
- supports wound healing
- aids digestive health
- helps with stiffness
- may help with sleep, anxiety and energy levels (thanks to Gycine)
Naturally, it’s not a one-pill-wonder. It’s something to incorporate into an overall balanced diet, good skin-care routine and healthy lifestyle.
It also takes some time to see results, as with anything. Give it 3-9 months and you should start to see the difference. Perhaps it will be sooner. It all depends on the individual.
How Do I Add Collagen To My Diet?
There are many ways to add collagen to your diet. Powders, pills, animal products or nutrients to help its synthesis in the body.
Typically, you’ll find that the majority of collagen supplements come in powder form and in pills. Additionally, there are also liquids available. There’s not a right or wrong way to take it. The body isn’t particularly fussy about it, so really it’s just personal preference.
Powders are very easy to add into the diet as they don’t taste of anything.
If you opt for hydrolysed collagen also known as collagen peptides, this means that it is broken down into more easily dissolvable amino acids.
Easily add the unflavoured powder to water, juice, coffee, hot choccies, tea, smoothies, soups, porridge and so forth.
If you’re taking a flavoured powder, such as lemon, it’s nice just with water.
- NeoCell Super Collagen powder and tablets
- NeoCell liquid
- Health Reach Collagen Pure powder
- Revive Active Joint Complex
If you’re experiencing particular issues, such as gut issues or joint issues, supplementation may offer you a more decent dosage to help you out. If you’re struggling with your digestion and things just aren’t getting broken down properly, it’s possible you are not able to get all the nutrients from your food.
Dietary wise, boosting collagen production in the body is a breeze. Many foods contain proteins called amino acids and these are used by the body to make or synthesize collagen.
Some essential amino acids that are important for its synthesis include glycine, proline, lysine and leucine to name a few. Additionally, certain vitamins and minerals also help with its synthesis. Vitamin C is a great example of a key player when we’re talking collagen synthesis.
Bone broth contains a bioavailable form of collagen that is available to the body right away. Make bone broth by simmering animal bones and connective tissue for a good few hours. We’re talking 12 hours or more. If you’ve cooked up a chicken, use the carcass afterwards to make a stock/bone broth.
If you’re using animal bones from larger animals, such as cows, these tend to take the longest to cook. Chicken stock is generally done after about 6 hours.
Fun fact: Adding in some apple cider vinegar to the pot helps draw out more minerals from the bones.
The cooking process is what extracts the collagen from the bones, connective tissue and skin and forms a rich healthy broth.
In case you haven’t got the time (or perhaps desire) to make it,we do actually stock a supplement version.
Gelatine is another great choice, as are eggs, meat and dairy. They all contain the amino acids required to synthesise collagen.
Additionally, fish is another great option. Next time you’re eating salmon for dinner, try leaving the skin on. Fish in itself is a great source of protein and is rich in the amino acids needed to produce collagen.
As well as the fish itself, try eating the bones! When you have tinned salmon, for example, the bones are soft and easily digested, plus they contain plenty of calcium.
It’s not only animal-based foods however that help us boost our collagen. Plant foods have an abundance of helpers.
Beets | green leafy greens like kale and spinach | tomatoes | peppers| sweet potatoes | garlic | berries | citrus fruit | brassicas | mango | kiwi | pineapple | beans | nuts. You get the gist 😊
Have a read over these blogs for more advice on skin health:
- Starting From The Inside Out: Why Skin Problems Are Often an Internal Issue
- Foods to Naturally Increase Your Skin’s UV Resistance
- Top Tips for Healthy Glowing Skin
- Nutrients to Nourish your Hair from the Inside – Part Two
- 9 Beauty-Boosting Supplements
Any questions? Drop into your local Nourish store to chat with our expert team and explore our full range of foods, supplements and skincare. You can also find our full product range in our online store.
*Please note that while we are knowledgeable about our products and nutrition, this blog should never be a substitute for medical advice and attention.
Please remember that you should always obtain the all-clear from your doctor before starting any new supplement plan or diet if you’re on any medication.