Let’s chat about some of the most common questions I receive about collagen supplements. But before we dive into whether collagen is helpful or not, let’s get a little background as to what collagen actually is.
- Collagen is what holds our bodies together and found within the skin, bones, connective tissue, ligaments, and muscles.
- One of the most common food examples of collagen is gelatin – most commonly known as Jell-o.
- Collagen supplements are typically from chicken, fish, or cows.
If Jell-O dissolves and solidifies, why doesn’t my collagen supplement do that?
Gelatin dissolves in hot water and forms a gel-like substance after the water cools down. However, hydrolyzed collagen, like what is found in collagen supplements, dissolves in both hot and cold water and doesn’t change the texture of the liquid. Hydrolyzed collagen is collagen that has been broken down into smaller chains of amino acids (the building blocks of protein).
Can collagen supplements replace my whey protein shake? Or replace the protein-dense foods on my plate?
While collagen is not a complete protein, unlike whey protein, meaning it doesn’t always have all the essential amino acids (building blocks of protein) that our bodies need from food. However, it can still be a good option for supplementing depending on the need and reason for supplementing.
Years ago, there was also a recommendation that if eating a vegetarian or vegan meal, to pair foods together in one meal to make a complete protein, like paring beans and rice together. We now know that we don’t have to stress so much about eating them in the same meal, versus just in the same day to get the variety needed. This is just one reason why, especially when having a more plant-based diet, food variety is key.
What are the main amino acids in collagen?
There are several amino acids present in collagen, including glycine, proline/hydroxyproline, and another amino acids based on the variety from the source. There are several sources of collagen, like from beef, chicken, and fish. Each of those have slightly different amino acid profiles.
Why are there so many types of collagen? What do they mean?
Because collagen does so many jobs in our bodies, there are different types.
- Type I (the most prevalent in our bodies), is found in skin, hair, tendon, bones, and organs.
- Type II is mostly part of cartilage.
- Type III is less prevalent, but mostly in bone marrow.
While these types are the most prevalent in those areas, consuming them doesn’t necessarily help increase collagen in those specific areas. See next question:
Does collagen supplementation help with collagen production?
While it is found in those specific areas of the body, it will still going to break down into those individual amino acids and be utilized wherever needed, not necessarily in the places we might want it to be (i.e skin, hair, etc.)
The collagen itself is too large to cross the intestines, so it’s broken down to those amino acids and placed in what we can refer to as the “amino acid pool”.
Once in the “pool”, the amino acids are used to build tissues/structures as needed.
So, should I use it?
While collagen consumption is not harmful (unless they are adding other sketchy ingredients) does not necessarily lead to collagen production.
Do people NEED a collagen supplement? No
Does it help health? Not any more than any source of protein (and variety of naturally occurring amino acids).
Why would some people use it?
For a variety of reasons, some people might benefit from additional protein intake that they aren’t able to meet entirely from the food they are eating. Adding a scoop of collagen to a smoothie, soup, hot chocolate, etc, without worrying about a texture change or flavor (though some people can still feel and taste the addition), can help improve overall protein intake status – but again, it’s just another food option, not a magical supplement.
Do you recommend any specific collagen product?
There are many high quality collagen supplements.
Ones I’ve tried and enjoyed include the basic Vital Proteins Collagen and the Thrive Market brand collagen.
For disclosure and transparency purposes, the following links are affiliate links, meaning that I receive a small commision either by purchase or in the case of Amazon, sales within 24hrs via cookie use.
Amazon Vital Proteins: https://amzn.to/3nDASjU
ThriveMarket link http://thrv.me/FJTSBt and collagen link: https://thrivemarket.com/p/thrive-market-collagen-peptides
YouTube Collagen Videos:
Young Living Collagen: https://youtu.be/iSZ_EIGrt9M
Modere Collagen: https://youtu.be/q3ZanZ95_1k