If you are not routinely eating organ meats and connective tissue, the answer is yes. There is an increasing buzz about collagen, and I have been asked this question a number of times in the last few weeks, so I thought this would be the easiest way for me to explain the benefits of collagen.
What Is It?
I am sure you have heard of it, but what exactly is it ? The word collagen actually comes from the Greek word "kolla" which means glue. Collagen is the most abundant protein in our body, and you can literally think of it as the structure or "glue" that holds our bones, skin, tendons, ligaments and muscles together.
What Does It Have In It?
Collagen is made from a number of amino acids, with the most prominent amino acids being proline, hydroxyproline, lysine and glycine. They are richly concentrated in bones, tendons and cartilage in animals, or in the skin of fish. Our ancestors consumed collagen because they ate all parts of the animal, but today, many people do not routinely use all the parts of an animal so we have less consumption of these amino acids. How many times have you thought it was so much easier, and potentially healthier to buy boneless skinless chicken breasts, but then you are missing out in the amino acids that help build collagen. So when you ingest collagen, you are ingesting a high concentration of these amino acids, which then helps your body manufacture collagen.
How Collagen Promotes Healing
Studies have been done using collagen and/or gelatin, along with a small dose of vitamin C, to support healing for soft tissues. Specifically when collagen or gelatin and vitamin C are consumed one hour before rehabilitation, it allows these ingredients to spike in the bloodstream at just the right time so more collagen can be produced, making the tendons and ligaments stronger.
How Collagen Effects Our Aging Body
Collagen production starts to decrease in our 30's, even more in our 40's, and by the time we are in our 60's, half of the collagen in our body has been depleted.
Knowing that collagen is the glue that holds us together, it becomes easy to see why we have a deterioration everywhere there is collagen: in our heart, gut lining, skin, joints, bones, tendons, ligaments and cartilage.
What Areas Can Collagen Improve?
1. It can help repair the lining of your gut, and it is important to note 60-80% of your immune system is in your gut.
2. Collagen is the structure that holds our skin together and we lose 1% of collagen each year after age 35, which causes our skin to sag, forming wrinkles. For aging skin, you can address this from the inside and the outside. In addition to being a dietitian I am a consultant with Rodan and Fields, the number one selling skin care line in North America. The founding dermatologists, Dr Katie Rodan and Dr Kathy Fields, developed unique products and specific skin care tools that help to address this loss of collagen and can turn back the clock. We call it aging backwards because the transformations people are seeing with these products are amazing. You can send me an email if you would like on "online skin care assessment" or just send me an email with questions. Free online skin care assessment and recommendations.
3. Collagen helps with joint pain because it allows joints, tendons and ligaments to move more smoothly. It may even help with the pain associated with osteoarthritis.
4. Collagen supports weight management by potentially suppressing your appetite.
5. Collagen protects your heart by helping to control blood pressure
6. Collagen supports bone growth and repair as bones are 1/3 collagen. It may help prevent and possibly reverse osteoporosis because it can stimulate osteoblasts, which are bone building cells.
7. Collagen helps the liver to detox.
What is the Difference Between Collagen and Gelatin
Collagen and gelatin have the same amino acid content. Collagen can be dissolved in cold or hot temperatures, and it does not change the taste or consistency of your coffee, tea, smoothie, or soup. Gelatin on the other hand, can only be dissolved in hot temperatures (think of making Jello) You can use gelatin to make gummies, jello or you can add it to soups or stews. You can also consume bone broth as it also has the same amino acid profile as collagen. Here is a great recipe for bone broth.
What brands do I recommend?
There are numerous brands on the market, but as with any supplement, it is always buyer beware. Ideally the collagen will be sourced from grass fed, pasture raised animals. If you use this link you can get a discount to Further Food Collagen Peptides. This is an awesome female owned company. Here is a link to their website and it includes a discount code for you.