What’s the Deal With Collagen?

I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about collagen, so I thought I’d jot down a few little tidbits about it here on the blog, in case there might be more folks interested in learning about this handy little nutrient. Collagen has become a hot commodity in the wellness world over the past few years and there are an endless number of companies selling one form or another, it’s a little overwhelming!

Let’s start with what it is…collagen is a type of protein found in the body, comprised of amino acids – glycine, proline, hydroxyproline and arginine. It accounts for approximately one third of all protein in the body, making it the most abundant protein type we have in there. Most of us associate collagen with youthful skin, which is correct, but it’s actually a key component to anything in the body that requires structure, such as teeth, bones, tendons, ligaments, hair, nails, and even blood vessels. It’s also super important for gut health. Our bodies make collagen, but as we age, the quality and quantity of the collagen we make lessens. We start to see evidence of this as our skin become thinner and sags a little here and there, ligaments loose elasticity, and our joints start getting stiff.

Oh the joys of getting older!

Having said all of this (not to mention the near constant obsession to look and feel young), it’s no surprise that collagen supplement options have become quite popular. Although a more youthful appearance is a popular reason why someone might start using collagen supplements, it’s not the only reason and it’s not why I started adding it to my coffee every morning more than two years ago and continue to do so, daily.

Collagen is a key component of gut health. It is essential for healing the lining of the gut and enhancing the integrity of the tight junctions that work to keep foreign particles out of the bloodstream. This post is about collagen and not leaky gut, so I won’t go into the nitty gritty about that here, but I will say that I don’t think there’s a person on the planet without some form of intestinal permeability. Just living and eating in today’s world sets us up for a compromised gut lining. Poor gut health causes systemic inflammation and therefore can lead to a variety of physical and mental conditions – autoimmune disease being one of them. Having made the connection between autoimmune disease and leaky gut, I set out on a mission to heal my gut, which brought me to learn all about the many benefits of collagen. And, that’s not to say I don’t want younger looking skin as much as the next person, but for me, gut health is what pointed me in this direction! 

There are 28 different types of collagen, but three types (aptly named Type 1, 2, and 3) make up 80-90% of collagen proteins in the body. All play role in building strength and elasticity of tissues: Type 1 is the most abundant in the body, generally good for everything, Type 2 is most beneficial for joints and Type 3 is particularly important for the gut lining. 

As I mentioned earlier, there are SO many options when it comes to collagen supplements, so picking one is a bit of a challenge. You can buy collagen capsules, but my preference is to use hydrolyzed collagen peptide powder – short chains of amino acids that are easily absorbed by the body and used to make new collagen. The powder is odorless, tasteless and dissolves perfectly into my morning cup of java. I also sometimes add a scoop to my smoothie – a good way for me to make sure my kids get a dose of it, too.

As I mentioned earlier, there are so many brands/options available, but my preferred brand is Sproos – their products are clean, non-GMO, and gluten free. I usually use their Grass Fed (pasture-raised cattle) product because it contains both Type 1 and 3, but I alternate now and then with the Marine Collagen (wild-caught cod, pollock, & haddock, Type 1) to have some variety. They also have several flavoured products, targeted specifically for skin/hair, joints, and gut health – these are excellent to add to a smoothie or even just to a glass of water. I also love that they’re a Canadian company and their service is amazing – I order one day and two days later, it’s at my door…even during COVID! For those of you living in the US, Vital Proteins is another excellent brand with a ton of product options. They also have a cool “collagen calculator” to help you figure out your ideal daily dose.

I highly recommend adding some form of collagen supplement to your diet. It’s my honest opinion that collagen can benefit everyone. It may not give you a face that looks 20 years younger, but it will boost gut health and provide an extra support to your body as you get older!