As a follow-up to my all about protein post, today I’m going to be talking about a specific type of protein: collagen. I’ve mentioned this before a couple of times as it is a supplement that I swear by!
What is collagen?
In the human body, there are 20 amino acids – simple building blocks that can be used to construct various sized chains – which we call proteins. The number of different proteins our amino acids can make is EXTENSIVE, but today we’re talking about just one: collagen. Collagen is the most abundant protein in our body, rolling in at around 30% of our total protein makeup. Collagen is found in our ligaments, bones, teeth, skin, hair, cartilage, muscle tissue, and it provides a great deal of structure for our tissues.
Where does dietary collagen come from?
Generally speaking, collagen is extracted from the hides and bones of animals. If you’ve ever whipped up a batch of homemade broth and then saw it turn to jelly in your refrigerator, the collagen proteins pulled from the tissues are to thank for the gel! Beyond homemade broth, there are two forms of collagen available to us today in a dehydrated supplement form: hydrolyzed collagen (collagen peptides) and collagen protein (gelatin).
Collagen Peptides vs. Gelatin
These two supplements are very similar but you can think of peptides as being more ‘broken-up’ than gelatin, therefore peptides may be a little easier for the body to leverage. Additionally, collagen peptides dissolve in both hot or cold liquids, while gelatin can only dissolve in hot and will cause cold liquids to gel. Collagen peptides are flavorless and have no aroma, while gelatin can tend to have a slight beef smell/flavor.
How is collagen different from protein powder?
Though collagen peptides/gelatin and a traditional (say, whey) powder can all be considered “protein powders,” their amino acid makeups are drastically different. While collagen IS found in muscle, its primary role is to help provide structure, but not necessarily mass. If you’re looking for a protein powder to help with muscle growth, collagen won’t help as much as a branch chain amino acid-filled whey-based protein powder.
What are the health benefits of collagen?
- Help heal your gut. Our gut health is tied intrinsically to our overall heath, and collagen is a way to support it through nutrition. Collagen can help strengthen/rebuild gut lining while also helping to restore a proper lining.
- Promote healthier, more vibrant skin. Our body goes through constant regeneration, and as we age that regeneration slows down and could use a little help. By consuming collagen regularly I have noticed that my skin is clearer and has a more elastic texture.
- Promote heathy hair and nail growth. This is the most noticeable change I’ve seen taking collagen for the past year and a half. My hair and nails grow like crazy and are much stronger!
- Support quality sleep. The Glycine in collagen is the amino acid responsible for its wonderful impact on quality sleep. Glycine has the ability to counteract a specific stress hormone, which in turn helps us to feel more calm and prepared for quality rest without the drowsy effects of other sleep aids.
- Promote joint health. This is especially important for anyone who works out consistently. Collagen can help reduce inflammation and help you rebuild stronger tissues over time, therefore reducing pain and potential for injury.
I take collagen daily – primarily in the form of Grass-Fed Collagen Peptides and occasionally via Grass-Fed Beef Gelatin. I mix these products into my coffee/tea/baked goods. Although not cheap, this is a brand that responsibly sources their ingredients and has quality products that I highly recommend!