Today we'll take a look at a trendy new health product: collagen supplements. As more people have learned about how important collagen is to keep your skin (and bones) young and healthy, the idea of supplementing with collagen has spread like wildfire.
Between 2017 and 2018, the sale of collagen supplements rose by double-digits, and manufacturers began adding it to everything from energy bars to coffee creamers in an attempt to capitalize on the trend.
Let’s delve into the science behind collagen to find out whether collagen supplementation is effective for your bones and overall health, or just another flimsy dietary fad.
All About Collagen
Collagen is a protein found in connective tissues throughout the body. It's essential to your bones, tendons, and skin, making up about 30% of the protein content in your body.
There are 29 different types of collagen, but most of the collagen in your body is type 1. This is the form of collagen that provides strength, elasticity, and resistance to both your bones and your skin.
Collagen is composed of 19 amino acids your body assembles to form the compound. In fact, your body cannot absorb collagen in its whole form. Proteins in your diet are broken down into amino acids by your digestive system, and then absorbed and turned into collagen and other proteins.
Bone quality is determined by a number of factors, and collagen is a major one. It makes up 90% of bones' organic components, giving bone tissue durability and flexibility that helps prevent fractures.1 Research has shown that collagen also stimulates the production of osteoblasts, the cells responsible for new bone deposition.2,3 This double benefit makes collagen a high priority for Savers.
Collagen is a protein that your body assembles from 19 different amino acids. Your digestive system cannot absorb collagen but can absorb the amino acids that comprise it. Collagen is a major component of bone that creates durability and flexibility. It also stimulates bone-building cells called osteoblasts.
What Is In A Collagen Supplement?
If a supplement contains whole collagen, your body cannot use the compound as is, since it is first broken down into the individual amino acids, as explained earlier. Most supplements contain short chains of amino acids called peptides.
If you take one of those supplements, then those peptides can be absorbed by your body, and then they could get turned into collagen, but not necessarily. Your body might convert those peptides into a different type of protein. There's no way to control how your body will use them, so collagen supplements are really just amino acid supplements that may or may not result in the production of collagen.
Collagen supplements don't contain whole collagen, because your body can't absorb it whole. They contain amino acid channels called peptides that your digestive system can absorb, but your body might turn those peptides into other forms of protein. Collagen supplements don't necessarily become collagen.
Do Collagen Supplements Work?
Most research into the effects of collagen have used supplements, and have looked at joint health, arthritis, and skin health. Some studies have found positive results, but they haven't been conclusive. So the scientific answer, frustratingly, is that we don’t have enough evidence as of now that collagen supplements work.
Your whole body needs collagen, especially your skin and your bones, so supporting collagen production is essential. But collagen supplements aren't necessary, because you can get those amino acids from your diet and by supplementing the nutrients that support collagen synthesis.
The following Foundation Supplements and Foundation Foods are necessary for endogenous collagen production:
- Copper – This trace mineral is common in enzymatic processes. One of the processes it facilitates is the cross-linking of collagen and elastin, which together make up the bone matrix where minerals are deposited, creating bone's tensile strength and fracture resistance. The recommended daily allowance is 0.9 mg, but you can take up to 2 mg per day.
- Silicon – Silicon is another trace mineral that affects collagen by regulating bone matrix proteins. Aim to get 12 mg from dietary sources like cherries, tomatoes, apples, and spinach.
- Vitamin C – This vitamin and antioxidant is required for the process of collagen synthesis. The ideal dosage of Vitamin C is 2000mg per day.
- B Vitamins (B6, B12, and folic acid) – These B vitamins protect collagen from damage by lowering homocysteine levels in the blood. The RDA for B6 is 1.5 mg for women and 1.7 mg for men. The RDA for B12 is 2.4 mcg, and for folic acid (B9) it's 240 mcg.
To ensure you’re getting the required amino acids, be sure to incorporate a variety of healthy protein sources into your diet. Those include:
While animal protein sources can contribute useful amino acids, you can also get those nutrients from non-animal protein sources.
This more holistic approach provides both the materials for building collagen and the tools your body needs to build it.
You don't need to take collagen supplements. Instead, include in your diet a variety of healthy protein sources to ensure you get the amino acids your body needs to synthesize collagen and other proteins. Fish, bone broth, quinoa, beans, chicken, and eggs are good sources. Support the collagen production process by supplementing your diet with Vitamin C, copper, B vitamins, and foods rich in silicon like cherries, tomatoes, apples and spinach.
What This Mean To You
A balanced diet with adequate protein will provide you with the amino acids and other nutrients that your body needs to produce collagen. That makes collagen supplements unnecessary.
To learn more about the power of Foundation Supplements and how to maximize the bone-building power of your diet, check out the Osteoporosis Reversal Program.
Health trends will come and go. Sustainable and evidence-based health habits designed to improve your bone health and overall health are lifelong endeavors that keep you feeling young, strong, and ready to seize the day!