The Scoop On Collagen
It seems like everywhere you turn, the new hot ingredient in every health food is collagen. Right now, your favorite health food store is likely lined from floor to ceiling with shelves of protein and snack bars claiming, “Now With Collagen!” on the label. You walk over to the coffee bar and see the menu offering collagen infused shakes, smoothies, and even “healing gut shots!”
Now you’ve heard some magical claims about collagen. You know it’s backed by some impressive research, and you even know which brands are the most popular. But with more and more brands saturating the market- you’re not really sure which option is the best to spend your money on, right? No problem!
We’re here today to give you a quick review of this (very impressive) supplement and talk about which kinds will be best for your health.
THE MAJOR FUNCTIONS OF COLLAGEN IN THE BODY
Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies (especially Type 1 collagen). It is a complex protein because it contains 19 different amino acids essential to the body for optimal function. Found in muscles, bones, blood vessels, skin, tendons and the digestive tract, it can be thought of as the “glue” that holds joints and tendons together and the reason your skin has strength and elasticity.
Increasing collagen intake can play an integral role in supporting proper healing in a number of ways, and one of the most important takes place in your gut. Consuming more collagen helps to form connective tissue and therefore supports the protective lining of the GI tract. This leads to more efficient absorption of nutrients.
THE TYPES OF COLLAGEN FOUND IN THE BODY
Type I is by far the most abundant form in the human body. It’s made up of specific fibers that form parts of the body, including tendons, ligaments, organs and skin, and is also found within the GI tract.
Type II primarily helps build cartilage, which is found in connective tissue, making it very important for joints and very beneficial for those with arthritis and joint pain.
Type III is made of another kind of fiber (called reticular fiber) which helps to make up organs and skin. It helps contribute to skin’s elasticity and firmness. It’s also found within blood vessels and within tissues of the heart.
THE TYPES OF COLLAGEN AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE
The most common form of collagen available for supplementation are bovine (cow), chicken, and marine (fish) collagen. It is available in both capsules and powders, giving you endless ways to easily incorporate it into your diet.
The most potent sources can be found in marine collagen powders which are about 1.5 times more efficiently absorbed into the body over bovine or porcine collagens. When choosing marine collagen be sure to read the labels to see that it comes from the scales, skin, bones and fins of fish. Sometimes similar products are sourced from shellfish and jellyfish, which are sub-optimal.
WHAT DECREASES COLLAGEN PRODUCTION IN THE BODY?
A diet high in sugar, excessive alcohol intake, sun exposure, and/or smoking can all decrease collagen production due to the undue stress they put on the body.
HOW TO INCORPORATE MORE COLLAGEN INTO YOUR DIET
Taking a collagen supplement or drinking bone broth are the simplest ways to incorporate collagen into your diet. You can make your own bone broth at home or purchase pre-made broth in the freezer section of most health food stores.
Nutrition Tip: Bone broth is the perfect food to drink both to heal the gut and to maintain optimal gut health. The glutamine in the broth is one of the most clinically noted nutrients for repairing the gut lining, and it makes bone broth a warm, healing drink filled with collagen, amino acids and other components that encourage bone and tissue healing.
ADDITIONAL NOTES ABOUT COLLAGEN AND THE BODY
It’s important to note that there are many factors that support the formation and use of collagen in the body.
The amount of collagen your body produces may be dependent on the presence of other nutrients such as vitamin C, manganese, copper and foods high in certain antioxidants. In order for collagen to be activated in the body, you always want to take your supplements with a source of amino acids and vitamin C if possible, or make sure that your supplement already includes these activating nutrients.