What is Collagen and Why should I take it?
By: Natalie Atkins
Editor: Kimberly Atkins
Most of us have heard about collagen injections for a younger looking appearance. Research now shows ingesting collagen can be beneficial not only to your looks but also your health and fitness. We have all heard about collagen but what is it exactly? Collagen is a type of structural protein our bodies are able to make at birth and is found in places like our connective tissue, cartilage, bone and tendons. To create collagen, our bodies break down the proteins we eat into amino acids and our bodies use those amino acids to create our connective tissue, cartilage, skin, hair, nails and many other parts of the body. Registered dietitian Mary Ellen Phipps, R.D.N., L.D. describes collagen as the “glue” that holds everything together.
When adults hit their mid 20’s, our bodies ability to produce collagen diminishes approximately 1% per year, explains registered dietitian Keri Gans, R.D.N. She goes on to explain, this slows down our bodies ability to repair itself like it once did. Some attribute things like wrinkles, sagging skin, and even cellulite to the lack of collagen. While others might notice creaky joints or slower muscle recovery.
Phipps points out that just because we ingest the collagen we can not pinpoint where the body will distribute the collagen to. We can not “spot train” the supplement to go where we want, but it will go where the body needs it most. Though the research is not extensive, there have been studies where benefits have been noted and personal experiences concur.
In a study done by Penn State University, athletes who reported joint pain when exercising took 10 grams of liquid collagen daily for 24 weeks and had less joint pain then they did with regular rest, walking and lifting.
Mark Moyad, M.D., the author of The Supplement Handbook says “Collagen contains the amino acids glycine and arginine, which help the production of creatine, a substance that enhances muscle strength,” he continues to note that Glycine seems to have a calming effect on the nervous system, which can improve sleep… And it blunts the body’s inflammatory response to stress, protecting the stomach lining from anxiety-induced damage.
There are a few different ways to get collagen. Ingesting foods like chuck and roast (which can be put in the slow cooker), bone broth (which can be drank or put in soups), or supplements. Moyad suggests making sure you are getting enough vitamin C, iron and omega-3 fatty acids which are also important for collagen production and storage in the body.
While at BlogFest 2018 I found Great Lakes Gelatin a company that makes a variety of collagen products. For the last 2 months, I have been adding 2 tbsp of their Collagen Hydrolysate to different things I have been eating or drinking and it ads absolutely no taste and does not change the consistency of whatever I have put it in. (Ex. smoothies, energy drinks, pre-workout, post workout shakes, oatmeal, coffee and overnight oats.) My nails are growing and are strong, my hair has had some noticeable growth, my skin looks clear and youthful and my aches and pains post workouts do not seem to be as deep as I remember. My plantar Fasciitis also seems to be responding well. In no way have I been conducting a scientific study on this, but adding the Great Lakes Collagen Hydrolysate has been the major change in my diet as of recently. I have both the Collagen Hydrolysate Single Can and the Collagen Hydrolysate Convenience Pk 20 Count . The single can lives in my kitchen with my protein powders and workout powders, while the small convenience packets are what I take on the road with me in my lunch bag when I travel. Both have been very easy to use and mix. While at the Malibu triathlon I also picked up Vital Proteins Marine Collagen and have been trying that as well. For those of you who havs an aversion to land animal products, marine collagen could be a good option.