If there’s one thing we never go a day without here at Primal Harvest, it’s a warm cup of collagen coffee. Whether we’re lounging on a lazy Sunday or heading into the office extra early on Monday morning, this daily essential is non-negotiable for us!
Getting excited about the endless benefits of collagen peptides and sharing tips, tricks, and helpful information with you is what we do best! But what if you’re just getting started on your collagen journey and don’t yet know if you should buy into all the hype?
If you don’t know much about collagen and want to gain a better understanding of what exactly makes this supplement something to cheer about, this article is for you! With the new year in full swing, there’s never been a better time to get back to basics when it comes to your wellness routine. Even if you’re a collagen connoisseur and have been loyal to this healthy habit for years, there’s still something in this article for you!
We believe that every now and then, it’s important to take a step back to refresh your memory on the supplements you’re taking and why. And for beginners, choosing the right type of collagen for your personal goals is the most important step of all!
Let’s dive into some collagen basics that are important to know before adding this glow-boosting supplement to your routine…
WHAT IS COLLAGEN?
The origin of the word "collagen" comes from the Greek word meaning “glue” - And you'll soon understand why!
Arguably one of the most significant substances in your body, collagen is literally responsible for holding your entire skeleton together. As the most abundant protein in the human body, it binds cells and tissues together, making it possible for them to keep their shape and structure.
Comprised of essential amino acids, collagen is naturally produced by your body and is present in your muscles, skin, tendons, skeleton, and teeth (just to name a few).
In your youth, your body possess an abundance of collagen! But unfortunately, as you grow older, this protein only continues to decline (especially after 30). An inevitable part of the aging process, the loss of collagen as we age becomes apparent through signs such as fine lines and wrinkles, sagging skin, thinning hair, brittle nails, creaking or painful joints, and many gut-related symptoms. Your skin just ceases to “snap back” the way that it used to!
For this reason, many people turn to collagen supplements as a way to support healthy aging and prolong these noticeable changing in their appearance. In other words, there might not be an actual “fountain of youth” in existence, but we do have a great deal of power over how rapidly our body will age.
Healthy lifestyle choices such as a nutritious diet, plenty of rest, physical activity, and certain high-quality natural supplements are just some examples of ways that we can look and feel our best for as long as humanly possible.
Although collagen supplements can be found in multiple forms (capsules, powders, creams, bone broths, and more), the most popularly chosen method by consumers is a peptide powder. Usually made from bovine or marine sources, all collagen supplements are derived from animal parts in one form or another, such as cow, pig, and fish scales (meaning that there are no real vegan options).
SUMMARY: We now know that collagen comes the Greek word for “glue,” that it’s the most abundant protein in the human body, and that people seek out collagen supplements as a natural way to help replenish lost collagen and slow the natural effects of aging on physical appearance.
WHY CHOOSE COLLAGEN POWDER?
There are many kinds of collagen, and with the continued growth in popularity of these supplements, it’s important to know the difference! Each type of collagen is built from various amino acids that can support your overall wellness in a number of ways.
Certain types help build cartilage or skin cells, for example, as well as your tendons, ligaments, and more. This means that although all collagen supplements serve the same main function, they may also vary to a certain extent.
So how can you decide which type of collagen supplement is best for you? It’s actually not as complicated as it may seem! Most quality collagen powders include what is known as ‘hydrolyzed’ collagen. Also known as collagen peptides, hydrolyzed collagen is already ‘broken down’ to promote better absorption (and therefore greater benefits).
In other words, the amino acid chains have been separated into smaller pieces. As a result, the powder can then dissolve effortlessly into both cold and hot liquids, and can be more easily digested. If there’s one thing you should always look for in a collagen supplement, it’s definitely this one thing!
With this being said, it’s no wonder that hydrolyzed collagen powders continue to be the most popular collagen supplement among users! These collagen supplements continue to be amazingly popular, because they are so easy to use and extremely versatile. Simply put, you can conveniently add them to any liquid or recipe of your choosing, such as coffee, tea, soups, smoothies, yogurts, or sauces.
Collagen peptide powders made from bovine sources are generally preferred for their neutral taste and texture, mixability, and high content of type I & III collagen. These two types make up the majority of the collagen in the human body and are most essential for healthy hair, skin, and nails.
SUMMARY: When it comes to collagen powders, hydrolyzed bovine collagen peptides are still considered to be the most widely chosen by newbies and experts alike! This is because hydrolyzed collagen is already ‘broken down’ for maximum absorption and bovine collagen contains type I & III sources, the most abundant and effective for your hair, skin, and nails.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF COLLAGEN SUPPLEMENTS?
Since collagen protein is the primary building block of your tendons, muscles, ligaments, bones, and skin, you can imagine how a collagen supplement may come in handy when wanting to look and feel your absolute best!
There are many positive benefits of collagen supplements that can improve your overall health when taken consistently as part of a healthy routine. Here are just some of the important benefits that many people experience as a result of taking hydrolyzed collagen on a regular basis!
COLLAGEN SUPPORTS HEALTHY JOINTS
Struggling with achy, stiff, and uncomfortable joints? Cartilage is the rubber-like tissue that secures your joints, keeping you moving comfortably without friction. Collagen supplements can help support joints and healthy cartilage, especially in aging joints.
Like we mentioned before, natural collagen production in your body decreases with age, so the older you are, the more likely you are to have osteoarthritis or any number of other degenerative joint disorders. Although there is still much research to be done, there is scientific evidence that has found that taking collagen supplements may help boost your joints and mobility.
In one of these studies, adults took collagen daily in doses of 2 grams for 70 days. In the end, there was evidence that it helped them reduce joint discomfort and made them more able to participate in physical activities when compared with those who did not take collagen.
There are also several studies researching the possibility that collagen supplementation may boost overall collagen production as a result of accumulating this protein in cartilage. Again, more research is needed, but studies so far have been promising!
If you want to start taking collagen daily in the hopes of achieving healthier joints, it’s generally recommended to start with an 8-12 gram dosage (although it’s always best to consult with your doctor first).
COLLAGEN MAY BOOST SKIN ELASTICITY
Another amazing advantage of hydrolyzed collagen supplements is that they may even improve your skin health by supporting enhanced elasticity. If your body is provided with a sufficient amount of this protein, it can help your skin naturally appear more youthful, smooth, and radiant.
As we get older, our skin elasticity gradually deteriorates, resulting in the most characteristic signs of skin aging, like wrinkles, fine lines, and skin sagging. Therefore, if you want to prolong or minimize these signs of aging, including a hydrolyzed collagen in your everyday routine is an absolute no brainer.
This skin-enhancing property of collagen peptides was confirmed in one double-blind, placebo-controlled experiment conducted on 114 women aged 45-65 years in 2014. They were randomized to receive 2.5 grams of the bioactive collagen peptide or placebo daily for eight weeks.
The researchers analyzed the wrinkles in all the participants before the experiment, in the middle and end of the treatment, and then four weeks after the last dosage. Upon conclusion, there was notable evidence that bioactive collagen peptide intake led to a statistically significant eye wrinkle volume reduction compared to the placebo group.
But this hasn’t been the only incredible study on the benefits of collagen and skin aging…not even close! In 2015, another study was conducted to check if the collagen density of skin tissue can be enhanced in a lab setting as a direct result of regular supplement use. The effects showed that supplementation could indeed boost skin hydration and the dermal collagen network, along with the potential to ease signs of skin aging.
Interestingly enough, there are also some who are studying a possible link between collagen supplements and other skin issues, such as acne. However, these assumptions still require more research, studies, and evidence to be confirmed.
Nevertheless, even with the research that is available so far, it is apparent that taking a collagen supplement regularly is not only considered safe but may provide you with a long list of skin benefits.
COLLAGEN MAY SUPPORT GUT FUNCTION
Digestion and gut-related troubles run rampant in today’s world. If you yourself don't suffer from digestive issues or food intolerances, we’re sure you know at least one person close to you who does. Our modern lifestyles include many factors that unfortunately pin the odds against us when it comes to maintaining a balanced, healthy gut.
Leaky gut syndrome and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are just two increasingly common conditions that can affect a person’s quality of life and cause a great deal of discomfort. They are usually caused by intestinal lining and digestive tract irritation and inflammation, and they can affect so much more than just your digestion.
An unhealthy gut can contribute to anything from low energy to skin issues, poor mood, sleep disruptions, brain fog, and more. When it comes to gut-related conditions such as the two mentioned above, both nutrients and toxic substances cannot be processed properly and therefore, harmful and inflammation-causing substances can end up making their way into the bloodstream instead.
Like we mentioned above, our modern lifestyles are often responsible for the many possible and complicated causes behind gut troubles, but can include poor diet, overusing alcohol, a sedentary lifestyle, prescription medications, and stress. Some of the many uncomfortable symptoms of an unbalanced gut can include upset stomach, bloating, diarrhea, fatigue, malnutrition, and constipation, just to name a few.
One recent study on irritable bowel syndrome and other inflammatory illnesses (such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis) revealed that patients with those conditions often show collagen IV deficiencies. Apart from that, some research conducted on animals concluded that collagen protein may possibly help restore a damaged intestinal lining.
Although research is still in the early stages when it comes to the correlation between collagen and its effect on gut health, many studies show so far that collagen supplements may play an important and beneficial role!
COLLAGEN MAY SUPPORT HEALTHY BONES
The amount of mineral in your bone tissue is measured as bone mineral density (BMD). Thanks to this measurement, a specialist can check your bone health and evaluate your risk of osteoporosis.
Although young people with plentiful collagen rarely check their BMD, this measurement becomes much more significant when you get older. It is particularly important in the case of postmenopausal women and the elderly. Studies show that collagen peptides may have an anabolic (growth-stimulating) impact on bones, potentially helping to promote healthy bones and BMD with age.
In addition, another study has also indicated that one of the health benefits of taking hydrolyzed collagen is also helping to preventing bones from breakdown, but additional research is needed in this area.
COLLAGEN MAY HELP BUILD MUSCLE MASS
Collagen is famously known as a hair, skin, and nail-boosting supplement, but not many are aware that this protein may also help support a healthy muscle mass! Since it is the main component of muscle tissue, collagen deserves a place in any supplement routine aimed at improving and maintaining muscle mass.
Since collagen includes one of the important and well-studied amino acids called glycine, it can support healthy creatine production. Thanks to creatine, you can enjoy enhanced energy during workouts, increased strength building, and faster muscle recovery after exercise. For this reason, collagen powders can be found lining entire shelves of supplement stores specifically designed for fitness enthusiasts and body builders.
In 2015, there was an interesting study conducted on 53 male subjects who participated in a double-blind placebo-controlled study. Each of them had to undergo a 12-week resistance training program, and some of them were supplemented with collagen peptides, while some received a placebo.
After the training program was complete, the men who received the collagen supplement improved their fat-free mass and bone-mass (and reduced the fat mass at the same time) to a noticeably greater extent than the placebo participants. To confirm the results, it was also reported that the protein intake did not differ significantly between both groups, making it clear that it was not a diet change that affected the improvement.
So what’s the real significance of studies such as these? Thanks to such research, we know that when collagen protein supplementation is combined with a proper workout program, it can be a great help with supporting and possibly even improving healthy body composition.
COLLAGEN MAY SUPPORT COGNITION & SLEEP
As surprising as it may sound, adding a collagen supplement to your routine may also help improve your mood, help you sleep better at night, and support mental performance.
This often overlooked benefit of collagen peptides comes as a result of it having one of the crucial and health-supporting amino acids in its structure - glycine. Besides playing an important role in mood, sleep, and stress response, glycine is one of the most thoroughly studied amino acids. It has been included in research involving schizophrenia, depression, mental fluency deficiencies, psychotic symptoms, and more.
Glycine has also been used in clinical studies focused on treating neurological damage resulting from a stroke. Although more research is needed in these areas, the wide variety of benefits surrounding the amino acid glycine are well-established.
Apart from this, another scientific study has reported that one type of collagen, namely collagen IV, may play a role in protecting the brain against amyloid-beta proteins (one of the believed causes of Alzheimer's disease. These studies are not definitive just yet, but they sure are very exciting!
Even better, the mood, cognition, and sleep benefits of glycine are just as helpful for healthy adults as well. For instance, some studies have found that collagen powder containing glycine may support alertness, focus, and attention, as well as verbal and visual memory. Such benefits will be most appreciated in situations where you need high retrieval of information or when your mental performance may be decreased by jet lag, poor sleep, or shift work.
Whether you’re an expert in the world of collagen supplements or are just getting started, there’s a collagen supplement out there for everyone (and plenty more to learn!). Overall, collagen protein has been shown to possess numerous positive effects on your body, specifically when it comes to supporting healthy aging.
As researchers gain more interest in collagen peptides and more clinical studies are done on humans, we will surely learn more about the full potential of this must-have supplement. Whether it’s improving skin’s appearance and elasticity, supporting joints and bones, increasing muscle mass, boosting skin and nails, or protecting the gut, collagen is a dietary supplement unlike any other.
To increase the amount of this essential protein in your body naturally, there are many steps you can take! Try eating varied foods containing collagen, such as bone broth, egg whites, garlic, or berries. An easy way to add hydrolyzed collagen supplements to your diet is by adding a scoop of collagen peptide powder daily to juice, water, coffee, tea, or any other liquid. Any hot or cold beverage will do!
The best part about collagen? This supplement is generally considered very safe for use, with no side effects being reported so far. For individuals with pre-existing conditions or who are taking medications, it’s always recommended to consult with your doctor before starting a new supplement routine.
Nevertheless, collagen supplements come in many different forms and from varied sources, creating a wide variety of quality options to choose from (and a perfect fit for each individual's unique goals!). Keep in mind to use only collagen supplements that have been third party lab tested for purity and safety, as this ensures the collagen is pure and free from any contaminants or traces of heavy metals.
Collagen supplements can be combined effortlessly with other supplements (such as protein powders or green powders) without sacrificing taste or effectiveness. When it comes to the ideal supplement, it’s hard to beat collagen!
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