I think just about everyone has heard of collagen powder by now. The media has been flooded with the various brands of it whether it be on social media, TV, the radio, or print. It is everywhere!
This has led to some very important questions such as "What is it?", "Does it actually do anything or is it just another fad?", "Should I be taking it?", "How do I know which one do take?". I wanted to answer some of the most common questions I have gotten about this supplement from patients.
So...what is it?
This is a great place to start. Collagen is a type of protein that the body uses in many areas including tendons, ligaments, bones, eyes, cartilage, skin, and hair. You may have noticed that it comes five different types as well. Type one helps the hair, skin, nails, organs, arteries, eyes, ligaments, tendons, and bones while type two focuses on gut health (immunity) and cartilage. Type three mostly supports arterial, bone, and skin health. Type four and five are the least abundant in the body. Type five helps with bone health, type four helps from cell membranes.
Collagen is sourced from animals. We mainly source type one from marine life, while the others are more often sources from beef and chicken. Bone broth is actually one of the best sources for these types of collagen.
What is important to recognize is that there are many kinds of protein structures in the body and they are all used for something different. While collagen is a type of protein, it does very little for rebuilding and recovering muscles.
Does it actually work, or is it just a fad?
It is definitely a "hot" item right now, but collagen is a great supplement and it has been long before it was in the media's highlight reel.
Should I be taking it?
Collagen is a great supplement for a wide variety of people because it is so diverse in it's uses. It is great for athletes and physically active individuals because they tend to put so much stress on the joints. Those who struggle with skin conditions such as acne, previous injuries to joints, or conditions that target joints may see improvements as well. Additionally, as we age we make less collagen- which is why many older patients opt to take this supplement. However, that still does not mean everyone needs or should be taking it. It is important to note that before you add, take away, or change anything about your health care regimen you should always speak to your physician first. Advice and information over the internet is not personalized to YOU- and everyone is different. Broad information on the internet cannot replace the importance of your consulting your physician. There is so much that goes into the biochemistry of the body and knowing what is and is not good for a patient. Collagen is generally a safe supplement but your doctor will know medical history, including any pre-existing conditions or medications that it may interfere with, and will be able to help you decide if this is something that is worth you taking.
If my physician thinks this would be a good option for me, how do I know which products are any good?
As a general rule of thumb, the collagen needs to be in peptide form (which means its broken down into a very small form of itself) or from a gelatin. Most on the market are peptide. This makes it easy to digest and dissolvable in both hot and cold liquid while gelatins are only dissolvable in hot liquid.
The powder should also be mostly white. It doesn't need to be frosty the snowman white but it shouldn't be too far off. It should also be almost completely scentless as well as tasteless (unless it is flavored, of course). If you open the container and it ever smells just "off" to you, that is not just "how it smalls"- that product is not any good. Buying the unflavored collagen from a brand is a great way to test this prior to diving into their flavored products.
While there are other good brands, some of the top brands that I have used personally and liked are Ancient Nutrition, Great Lakes, and Nordic Naturals. My favorite way to take these is putting them in my morning smoothie, in my overnight oats, or in chia seed pudding. As I mentioned above, if you have a good quality collagen they really don't add or take a way from the flavor whatsoever so you can really add it to anything!\Many people enjoy adding it to their coffee, tea, or even just a glass of water.
Do you take collagen? If so, what brand do you love? How do you like to enjoy it?