Since when did this become a part of a staple diet?
There has been a swift uproar in collagen supplementation. Now lining the supermarket shelves screaming to us that we need this. I have noticed a massive increase in clients of mine listing collagen on their “what I take daily” list and when I ask why they take it not being able to explain beyond thinking it was good for them, thinking they had to or to get better skin, hair and nails. Leading me to explain to them my humble opinion of taking collagen supplements daily.
What is collagen?
Collagen is a non-essential amino acid. It is the most abundant protein in our body which is mostly found in our bone, muscles, tendons, ligaments and skin.
Endogenous collagen refers to the collagen produced in our body. Exogenous collagen is a synthetic form found in outside sources like supplements.
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein.
Non-essential amino acids mean our body produces the amino acid rather than relying on us to consume it (which would be called an essential amino acid).
What is collagen good for and why do we need to “take it”?
Collagen is found abundantly in the body it hints to how important it is. It has the following main roles:
- It is a part of the dermis, a layer or the skin. It gives skin elasticity and strength and helps replace and restore dead skin cells.
- Connective tissue, which includes fascia, Connective tissue is found all throughout the body and helps the body move well.
- Protective layers around vital organs like the kidneys
- Bone density and strength
- Muscle tissue, contributing to muscle repair and restorative, therefore muscle strength and tone
- Tendons, cartilage and ligaments, which help the body to move easily without pain or stiffness.
With age our ability to synthesise collagen becomes far less. Post menopausal women show a massive decline in the production of collagen. Which is where you start to see the physical signs of aging like wrinkles in skin, stiffness in joints, etc.
However, this is a natural and normal part of aging.
Well it sounds important, so I guess I should take it right?
I advise people to stop wasting their money on collagen supplementation and instead utilise other nutrients to support the body's ability to upregulate its own production of collagen.
Because our bodies do produce collagen, the need to take is not huge and therefore the body is not designed to prioritise the absorption of non-essential nutrients.
Once you take collagen in the form of a supplement, by the time it breaks down in the gut and is digested into the body, it is no longer collagen! It is merely a whole host of broken down peptides that the body decides how they would be best used. And I guarantee, the wrinkle on your brow is FAR from its main priority.
Natural sources of collagen and collagen producing nutrients
Just like humans produce collagen found in our flesh, so do animals. The source of indogenous collagen (the best form of collagen) is animal products. Namely:
- Bone broth (Especially bone broth made with animal joints as well as bone)
- Fish and shellfish
There are also nutrients which help stimulate the body's production of collagen. These include:
- Vitamin C
- Herbal tinctures like Withania (ashwaganda) & Gotu Kola
If you are a coffee drinker, coffee does reduce the production of collagen!
Ultimately, Collagen is something that you body is also trying to make on its own, if you feel your skin, hair, nails, joints, bones all feel like they need some extra attention, consider your diet and health overall rather than feeling like you have to shovel boat loads of collagen powder into you.