The Trend of Collagen
I know, I know, collagen is the darling of health these days. Until recently, I believed collagen had some amazing benefits. I would get a jar of it every month, using Amazon’s subscribe and save feature, thinking I was getting a deal.
There are numerous studies that show positive effects of collagen. “Collagen peptide supplementation, in conjunction with exercise, may be beneficial for the management of degenerative bone and joint disorders” (Mishti, 2021).
“The effects of collagen peptide supplementation on body composition, collagen synthesis, and recovery from joint injury and exercise: a systematic review. In a meta-analysis finds that ingestion of hydrolyzed collagen for 90 days is effective in reducing skin aging, as it reduces wrinkles and improves skin elasticity and hydration.” (DeMiranda, 2021).
Critics of these studies claim that subjects who participated in this study were already on a low protein diet, and therefore so many aspects of their health improved on collagen supplements.
What You Should Know About Collagen
Some things to know about collagen protein is that it is an incomplete protein. Collagen is missing trytophan, an essential amino acid. It’s essential because it can’t be made in the body, therefore we need to get it from food sources. Due to this, you can’t include any collagen protein in your macro protein count. Collagen has a very low amino acid profile compared to other proteins. When you are consuming enough protein, some sources say that collagen will not give you ANY health benefits. (DiStefano, 2020).
Furthermore, when digested, hydrolyzed collagen is broken into amino acids, just like any other protein you would consume. Your body then uses these amino acids wherever it needs it, not necessarily for the improvement of skin and hair cells.
Undenatured Type II collagen is a specific form of collagen that helps joints. One of the main benefits of undenatured Type II collagen is that it prevents arthritis by controlling the body’s immune response. However, the effectiveness of this supplement is in the early stages of research, and it is very expensive. While a jar of 180 1000mg capsules of collagen peptides will cost $12, undenatured Type II collagen costs about $36 for 120 40mg capsules. (Matthews).
Hydrolyzed collagen will not harm you, so if it makes you feel good, keep taking it. It might also benefit you if you are on a super low protein diet and need to supplement. But it is definitely not worth the money.
What to do instead of purchasing a collagen supplement:
• Eat a whole foods diet
Eating a whole foods diet is the foundation of your health journey.
• Eat nose to tail
Eat every part of the animal. For example, when you buy chicken, buy it whole and make bone broth after. This way, your amino acid profile will be much greater.
• Eat enough protein
Try to get 19-35% of your calories from protein. In order to avoid going down the rabbit hole of macro counting, look at your plate. Is about a quarter to a third of your plate for each meal and snack a quality protein source?
• Drink enough water
Water is the MOST important nutrient! All of those wonderful things that you eat can’t get to your cells if you don’t drink enough water. Aim for 8-12 8 oz glasses per day.
*Please do not interpret this information as diagnosis or treatment. Everybody is different.
De Miranda, Roseane B.; Weimer, Patricia; Rossi, Rochelle. (2021, December 20). International Journal of Dermatology. Effects of hydrolyzed collagen supplementation on skin aging: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33742704/.
DiStefano, Sal; Andrews, Justin; Adam Schafer. (2013-present). Mind Pump. [Audio podcast]. Mind Pump Media. https://mindpumppodcast.com/1235-the-5-most-overrated-supplements/.
Matthews, Michael. www.Legion.com. Collagen Protein is a Waste of Money, Science Says. Retrieved from https://legionathletics.com/collagen-protein/.
Mishti et al, (2021, Oct). The effects of collagen peptide supplementation on body composition, collagen synthesis, and recovery from joint injury and exercise: a systematic review. Retrieved from The effects of collagen peptide supplementation on body composition, collagen synthesis, and recovery from joint injury and exercise: a systematic review – PubMed (nih.gov).