Collagen....what is it? Today we are doing a deep dive into the world of collagen. If you follow me at all on my Instagram you would know that I have been wanting to do a deep dive for a while, but just haven't had the time to get into it. This will be a short blog. Well today I do, so let's get into it!
"Collagen by definition is the main structural protein in the extracellular matrix found in the bodies various connective tissues. As the main component of connective tissue, it is the most abundent protein in mammals making up 25% to 35% of the whole-body protein content." According to google :/
Collagen in the body functions to provide strength, and it aids fibroblasts to form in the middle part of your skin-the dermis. Which helps new cells grow.
"Collagen first appeared as an ingredient in skin creams and serums. However, its effectiveness as a topical application was doubted even by dermatologists, as collagen is not naturally found on the skin’s surface but in the deeper layers. Collagen fibers are too large to permeate the skin’s outer layers, and research has not supported that shorter chains of collagen, called peptides, are more successful at this feat."
Oral collagen supplements in the form of pills, powders, and certain foods are believed to be more effectively absorbed by the body and have skyrocketed in popularity among consumers. They may be sold as collagen peptides or hydrolyzed collagen, which are broken down forms of collagen that are more easily absorbed. Collagen supplements contain amino acids, the building blocks of protein, and some may also contain additional nutrients related to healthy skin and hair like vitamin C, biotin, or zinc." (Collagen | The Nutrition Source | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health)
Your body naturally produces collagen which is the essential amino acid that holds the body together so to speak. As we enter our 30s it naturally starts to decline and even more so as we enter 40 and 50 years of age. There is nothing we can do to stop this process, it will happen to all of us. Its called aging and its a part of life. As we age our bodies change, they dont recover from things as easily, and our bones and joints hurt more over time.
There are several other minerals/nurtients that aid in the body absorbing collagen which are Vitamin C, Zinc, and copper. I have found that the best foods to eat that naturally contain collagen are animal proteins.
Beef, Bone broth, Marrow, Fish skin, Chicken, shellfish, but also making sure to include a wide variety of fruits that are high in vitamin c is vital also to help your body make more of its own collagen.
So the great collagen debate. With an industry that has reached 9.1 billion since 2022 it makes you wonder if this has just been hyped up to make a profit or if there is any truth to the hype. After much time and looking online I have yet to find one concrete study that shows that ingesting a collagen supplement whether liquid, powder, or pill will actually cause the body to increase collagen production. There isn't one.
At this time, non-collagen industry funded research on collagen supplements is lacking (that means the only funded studies have been paid for by actual collagen supplement companies) natural collagen production is supported through a healthy and balanced diet by eating enough protein foods, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables and reducing lifestyle risk factors. (Collagen | The Nutrition Source | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health)
There have been clinical trials that are sponsored and paid for by actual collagen companies but they dont produce any hard evidence proving that collagen supplements actually work and cause the body to have more supple skin, better joint health and mobility etc. They usually just say something like 50% of non-control group reported seeing more supple skin and having less joint pain.
Collagen is widely sold today as a powder supplement with little to no flavor that can be added to food, drinks etc. Its also available in pill form. NOOWWW I'm not saying that there can't be some benefit to taking collagen, it just hasn't exactly been proven yet. Purchasing a decent collagen supplement is not cheap. They range from $15 all the way to $100. Its really hard to know which to purchase and with a huge price tag there is no guarantee you are getting a quality supplement.
So why not just eat your collagen. It's really that simple. Having a varied diet full of animal proteins, fruits, and vegetables will provide your body with the building blocks it needs to create its own collagen. My rationale is if my body naturally starts producing less collagen after a certain age then there is really nothing I can do to force it to produce more. No matter how much collagen I eat or take whether it be in food or pill form is going to dictate to my body to produce more when it just naturally produces less as I get older.
That doesn't mean that a supplement can't be beneficial in some way, but I often wonder if it ends up just being a placebo effect that we have when we knowingly are taking more of a supplement. Placebos can be powerful, and the mind can convince itself of anything it wants too.
If you aren't eating a balanced diet, and eating lots of collagen rich foods then perhaps you would do well with a supplement, but its never going to be as good as the real thing ie eating animal products along with a balanced diet. Animal products contain the essential amino acids in their raw form which is exactly what your body needs.
I personally dont use collagen supplements. I never have. I probably never will. Im not going to knock businesses selling collagen supplements, but I think its wise for the consumer to address the cracks in the road in the industry. Collagen supplements have also been reported to contain heavy metals and foreign substances. The regulation of them is spotty at best. Its hard to know exactly what is in them. I think we all know by now companies can claim anything they want to and if they have enough money they can put whatever they want on their labels. The FDA is not a reliable entity in any way. I mean they apporove the use of seed oils, propylene glycol, monosodium glutamate and many other dangerous chemicals in our food. Why would I go off of anything they recommend, say or a product that they approved of.
So to sum up my short, opinionated blog about collagen-you dont need it. Eat the real thing. Give your body real raw natural organic options and eat different things every day. You might consider a collagen supplement if you absolutely just cannot eat a balanced diet, but do your research before investing in a supplement. I cant recommend a company to purchase from because I dont take any collagen, might I suggest taking beef liver and organ supplements.
The gut health and nourishing of it is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves. If we all did this then big pharma wouldnt be making so much money, and a lot of the diseases we have today would not be as big of a problem as they are.
Signing off, cheers mates