Updated: Mar 11, 2019
I've recently started supplementing with collagen powder after researching so many of the health benefits. I am not a bandwagon type of chick, so although collagen is super popular these days, I never try anything without seeing if it passes my research test first.
What is Collagen?
Before we dive into the benefits of collagen and why you should think about supplementation, lets get down to it and answer the first question that you may have: what the heck is collagen? Collagen is the most abundant protein in our body and is in our connective tissue, muscles, skin, blood vessels, digestive tract, bones, ligaments, tendons, and cartilage. You can think of collagen as the glue that holds the body together.
As we age, the collagen in our body naturally starts to decrease. This process can be accelerated from eating a poor diet and from other lifestyle habits such as smoking. Supplementation can help to provide your body with the collagen that it needs so that you can reap its many health benefits.
When most people think of collagen, they usually think of skin benefits. You cant go down a beauty aisle at the store without seeing products promoting collagen for its anti-wrinkle and anti-aging properties. Research shows that this is indeed one of the major benefits of collagen. A lot of collagen proponents have noted that their skin is more supple, hydrated, and has a certain 'glow' when taking supplementation. In addition to skin benefits, collagen can also promote stronger hair and nails with more growth.
Our muscle tissue is composed of a percentage of collagen and this is necessary to keep our muscles strong. Researchers have noted that taking collagen supplementation may help to promote the synthesis of muscle proteins like creatinine, which can stimulate muscle growth, in particular with exercise. Try a smoothie with collagen after your next workout.
Collagen can help to maintain the cartilage that protects our joints. As we we get older, we are more prone to experience joint pain and get conditions like arthritis as our cartilage decreases. By supplementing with collagen, this can help to boost the protection of our joints and decrease inflammation and pain.
This is actually the main reason that I started supplementing with collagen daily. Gut health is super important for nearly everything. If our digestive system is not functioning optimally, its nearly impossible to absorb the nutrients that we need, eliminate toxins, lose weight, keep our hormones balanced, decrease inflammation, and have a healthy immune system.
Collagen can actually help to protect the lining of our digestive tract. Our intestinal lining can develop little microscopic tiny holes in it. This can cause the food that we digest to 'leak' back into our bloodstream. This is often referred to as "leaky gut'. This contributes to inflammation, bloating, constipation, upset stomach, a lack of absorption of many nutrients that we need, and many bowel conditions. Collagen can help to heal and seal our intestinal lining. Even if you don't suffer from any specific bowel problems, it can be beneficial for prevention.
There are some other benefits of collagen, but these are the big ones that are most notable and most discussed in research.
The next question becomes: what type of supplementation? Collagen can be purchased in capsule form or powder. Some prefer capsules as they can take them daily without needing to mix. I personally use the powder form and add into my smoothies and/or tea daily. The biggest thing is to make sure that the collagen is 'Hydrolyzed" which makes it easier to digest and reap the benefits.
Collagen can be sourced from cow hides, bones, and cartilage (bovine collagen) or fish skin, bones, and scales (marine collagen). Both have similar benefits, and your choice for supplementation will come down to personal preference. If you do not eat beef like myself, then marine collagen would likely be your choice. Just make sure that you look for a source that is wild caught and Non-GMO. If you go with bovine collagen, ensure that its a grass fed pasture raised source.
My favorite brand is called Vital Proteins, which I purchase at Whole Foods. Here is a pic of my marine collagen and their regular bovine collagen below:
Want to try out some delicious smoothie recipes that include collagen and will help you balance your hormones? Grab your recipes in my free 7 Day Jump Start for Hormone Balance guide with 7 day menu plan.