Collagen Peptides: are they just another money-grab? Doesn’t our body produce its own collagen? Why would I need to supplement if I already feel like I’m getting enough collagen through diet? I’ve definitely questioned collagen peptides in the past and wondered why I would need them, but as I’m getting older, I’m starting to see the real benefits!
When I turned 30, I finally started to see the physical signs of my aging. Apparently, after 25, we start to produce less and less collagen with each passing year, which can lead to wrinkles and sagging skin. More importantly, lower collagen production means weaker cartilage, so I’m definitely feeling it in my joints (knees and shoulders). Also, I’ve noticed the rate at which I recover after a workout has slowed, as well.
So I turned to collagen peptides. Without doing any prior research, I found many brands that marketed themselves to gym-goers and beauty-gurus. Even so, I wanted to know exactly what would benefit me for my specific needs.
What Are Collagen Peptides?
Collagen comes from the Greek word kólla, which means glue. Collagen actually was used to produce glue. Today, it is used as a health and beauty supplement. It’s injected into many products and marketed as a youth elixir, but there are some things to keep in mind when purchasing collagen.
Collagen makes up about a third of the proteins found in the human body. When your body naturally produces collagen, this is known as collagen synthesis. Two amino acids that kick-start this collagen synthesis are known as Glycine and Proline. Without these, you are reliant on a Collagen supplement. Another thing to keep in mind is that Vitamin C is essential to this process; a Vitamin C deficiency means that your natural collagen production will suffer.
Forms of Collagen
There are lots of forms of collagen, so take a seat and get comfortable. Although there are over 28 variations of collagen, we will only discuss the 5 that I believe to be the most important and well-rounded. With this information, you’ll be able to decide which products are better suited to your needs.
- Type 1: The most abundant type in your body, this one helps to support healthy skin, strong hair, nails, and bones.
- Type 2: While Type 2 collagen is less prevalent within our bodies, it still offers great benefit to the aging body by promoting joint and cartilage health.
- Type 3: Similar to type 1, type 3 supports nails, skin, hair, and bones.
- Type 5: Type 5 collagen contributes to the bone matrix, corneal stroma, and the interstitial matrix of muscles, liver, lungs, and placenta. Great for expecting mothers!
- Type 10: This one helps with new bone formation and forming articular cartilage. It’s been found to be beneficial for bone fracture healing and repairing of synovial joints.
The bad news? There are no vegan sources. Collagen is only made in humans and animals. Some plant-based foods can boost your body’s natural collagen production, such as tempeh/tofu, lentils, hemp seeds, nutritional yeast, and spirulina. For a longer, more detailed dive into vegan foods to boost collagen, check out this list on Jessica’s nutrition blog called Nourished By Nutrition.
What to Look for in Collagen Peptides
You don’t just want to pick up any collagen product off the shelf. You want to look for a few specific things.
First, make sure the collagen powder is colorless and tasteless. The powder will be white, but when mixed into a drink, it should go transparent/clear. You should not be able to taste the Collagen. If it’s yellow, brown, or any other color, return it!
Second, check the dosage. Studies show that 2.5g of collagen is enough to see visible changes in your skin, so if a product has 10-20g in a single dose, that company may just be out for your money.
Third, choose a science-backed product from a company that will provide certificates of analysis and that provides third-party testing or lab verification.
Where to Get Collagen Peptides
There are so many companies that make or sell collagen products now, but I particularly love the NutraChamps brand.
- Collagen Peptides Powder provides 7,000 mg of Type 1 and Type 3 Double Hydrolyzed Collagen, which is great for those looking for the beauty benefits as well as the physical benefits of less joint pain, stronger bones, and its ability to heal wounds, giving skin its stretchy and elastic quality, and holding together tissue so it doesn’t tear. I love to add this to my coffee in the morning or add a scoop of it to my smoothies. With the addition of Vitamin C, you’ve got a 2-in-1 super combo!
- Multi-Collagen Capsules provides 1,600 mg of Type 1, 2, 3, 5, and 10 Hydrolyzed Bovine Collagen Peptides from Grass-Fed Beef, Collagen from Chicken Bone Broth Concentrate, Eggshell Membrane and Marine Fish Collagen in convenient small capsule form. I like that this Multi-Collagen supplement comes from different sources and it’s convenient to take any time of day.
Benefits of Collagen Peptides
- Improve your skin: As little as 2.5g is shown to improve your skin’s elasticity, keeping it looking younger and preventing dull and dry skin. It can even reduce the appearance of cellulite in some people!
- Relieve your joint pain: This is not just joint pain caused by old age or rheumatoid arthritis. Although collagen has been shown to help improve symptoms of osteoarthritis and reduce joint pain overall, many athletes use it as well to decrease joint pain, according to many long-term studies (between 2 to 6 months). If you are looking for pain relief, as little as 2.5g could help, but some sources would recommend between 8-12g for more noticeable effects.
- Prevent bone loss: Research shows that collagen may not only increase bone density, but it can actually prevent bone loss in the first place. This is especially important for those going through menopause or postmenopause. Not only will you be preventing bone loss, but you’ll also improve bone mineral density!
- Boost your muscle mass: Because collagen comprises 90% of our connective tissue, including joints, ligaments, tendons, and fascia, it’s important to supplement with collagen to repair muscles and help restore/recover. On the proactive side of things, you will also be preventing injury by strengthening your joints and ligaments.
- Promote heart health: Collagen provides structure to your arteries. Without it, arteries can become weak and fragile. Consistent daily use of collagen for 6 months has been shown to even increase HDL “good” cholesterol by an average of 6% according to this study.
- Improve gut & brain health: Those with inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s can benefit from using a collagen supplement since the tissue that lines the colon and the GI tract are built from the amino acids in collagen!
Preventing Collagen Loss
Just because you upped your collagen intake through natural foods and are supplementing on the side, does not mean you are retaining all that beautiful collagen.
Like many other supplements, it’s difficult to maintain a poor diet and lifestyle and expect the supplement to treat your ailments or make everything better. You must also put some work into your day-to-day to make sure what you put in your body has a chance to make lasting changes.
Foods to Limit
Here are some things to limit or eliminate if you’d like to see a boost in collagen or would like to avoid depleting the levels of collagen within the body:
- Sugar: Our skin suffers when we eat sugar! A diet high in sugar increases the rate of glycation meaning that blood sugars attach to proteins, damaging nearby proteins. This stiffens collagen and causes you to lose elasticity in your skin.
- Smoking: Tobacco smoke can damage collagen and elastin in the skin. On top of that, Nicotine narrows the blood vessels in the outer layers of skin, meaning nutrients and oxygen have a hard time getting to certain parts of your skin. This can lead to dull and dry skin.
- Sunlight: I know you’re probably getting mixed messages. Yes, you need sun for your daily dose of Vitamin D, but you also want to make sure you’re using UV protection. UV rays cause collagen to break down more rapidly in the dermis. The skin then rebuilds incorrectly, forming wrinkles.
Unavoidable Collagen Losses
And now for some things you can’t really avoid or eliminate:
- Autoimmune disorders: Collagen vascular diseases are autoimmune diseases that occur when the body’s immune system attacks its own skin, tissues, and organs. Some examples are Lupus, Scleroderma, and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Aging: We can’t help but age, but we can do whatever is in our control while we are young to provide the appropriate amount of collagen to our skin and joints. Collagen production decreases with age, contributing to skin wrinkling and sagging.
There is such a thing as too much much of a good thing being bad for you. Too much collagen consumption can lead to thickened skin and organ failure! Just like water, you can get too much and do more damage than good, so try to stick to the amount that is appropriate for you.
As usual, with any supplement, check with a healthcare professional to see if a collagen supplement is appropriate for you. You’ll need to consider autoimmune diseases, deficiencies, other supplements or medication, and more.
Side effects are pretty rare and mild, but some may experience diarrhea, heaviness in the stomach or bloating, and rashes.
I would also not recommend using several different collagen products in a day. You’re likely getting enough from diet and one supplement, rather than products that add a bunch of vitamins, minerals, and collagen. There are definitely lots of money-grab products out there!
For a long time, I didn’t include collagen in my supplement regime because I didn’t feel the need and it isn’t even really necessary. However, I changed my mind around the time I got serious about resistance training in the gym. As my workouts got heavier and harder, I knew I couldn’t get by with only protein powder and my meals. I’ve noticed that the addition of Collagen Peptides, as well as some other daily essentials like fish oil and turmeric curcumin, has helped tremendously with my recovery as well as the day-to-day joint pain I have from my arthritis. In fact, NutraChamps Collagen Peptides Powder was ranked as one of the best collagen peptides on “Health Cares”, so check out their list!
To top it off, I get the benefits of having healthier radiant-looking skin, hair, and nails, so I can’t complain! This is one of my favorite supplements to take, and even with my diet being high in collagen-boosting foods like bone broth, chicken, and leafy greens, it pales in comparison to when I’m taking a scoop of collagen a day.
Have you considered using a product like collagen peptides? If you have used it, what were the main benefits you noticed, and how soon after did you see/feel the effects? Did you learn something new today about collagen? If so, drop a comment down below and let me know!
Chelsea has been active most of her life, which led her to become a Personal Trainer and Yoga Instructor for the past 7 years. Health and Fitness are not solely dependent on movement, though, and with that understanding, she addresses her client’s other needs, such as diet, mindfulness, and stress management.
When she is not training clients or teaching Yoga, she is finding new activities that keep her mind and body active, such as rock climbing, hiking, listening to podcasts, or playing Board Games with friends. She is constantly working toward finding natural solutions to live as long as possible, creating inclusive Yoga for all body types, and aiming to find mindfulness in everything she does.