The Inside Scoop on Collagen Supplements
Are Collagen Peptide Supplements Worth All the Hype?
After scrolling through your millionth ad for collagen peptide supplements this week, you decide to head toward the pharmacy section of your grocery store to find the best option. But where do you start? Is it worth the price? Will it actually work? And what is collagen, anyway? Let’s explore some truths about collagen, where you can find it and how to get the results you're looking for.
What is Collagen?
Collagen is a protein that’s naturally found in the body, and it’s a major component of connective tissues like skin, bones, tendons and ligaments. It provides structural support and helps maintain the strength and elasticity of various tissues. Think of it as the building blocks for a strong ladder. Collagen generates connective tissue, which supports skin hydration and elasticity, flexible joints and ligaments, and strong bones.
What are Collagen Peptide Supplements?
Collagen peptide supplements are dietary supplements that contain hydrolyzed collagen peptides, or collagen peptides that have been broken down into smaller peptides through a process involving water. This process makes them more easily digestible and absorbable by the body. Collagen peptide supplements typically come in a powdered or liquid form, which can be mixed with water or other beverages, or added to foods. These supplements are often marketed for their potential benefits to the skin, hair, nails, joints and overall health. Some potential benefits of collagen peptide supplements include:
- Skin health: Because collagen is an essential component of the skin, supplementing with collagen peptides may help improve skin hydration and elasticity, and reduce the signs of aging, such as wrinkles and fine lines.
- Joint health: Collagen provides structural support for joints and may help improve joint mobility and reduce joint pain associated with conditions like osteoarthritis.
- Hair and nail health: Collagen is a major component of hair and nails, and supplementation may help promote stronger and healthier hair and nails.
- Bone health: Collagen is a vital component of bone tissue and may contribute to improved bone strength and density, potentially reducing the risk of conditions like osteoporosis.
Do I Need a Supplement?
Like all dietary supplements, collagen peptide supplements are meant to supplement the nutrients you’re getting from your diet. Because collagen is naturally produced in the body, the best route is to eat a diet that promotes your body’s own collagen production. As for the marketed benefits of collagen supplements, unfortunately, the research just isn’t there to support them. Though some say these supplements improve skin appearance and decrease joint pain, the evidence is limited to testimonials rather than scientific research. Additionally, researchers believe the benefits reported are due to an increase in overall protein consumption, rather than the collagen supplement itself. Consult your healthcare provider before taking any supplements.
Increasing Your Body’s Natural Collagen Production
Guess what? Our bodies are amazing, and they can create their own collagen when they have the right nutrients and environment. Collagen is found in many foods, including:
- Bone broth: Bone broth has become popular over the past few years, partially because of its high collagen content. To make bone broth, animal bones are boiled for hours to days, to release their collagen into the liquid. Check out this Instant Pot® Bone Broth Recipe. Alternatively, you can buy a high-quality prepared bone broth. Look for organic or free-range options like Simple Truth Organic® Chicken Bone Broth.
- Gelatin: Choose a flavored gel to pair with fruit for dessert or use these unflavored gelatin packs and add them to your coffee in the morning to get your day off to a great start.
- Protein: You can consume any meat, fish or plant-based protein in combination with fruits and vegetables to provide your body the nutrients you need to create your own collagen.
Still Thinking About Taking a Collagen Peptide Supplement?
Be sure to choose supplements that are third party-tested to reduce the risk of contamination. A product to consider is Vital Proteins® Unflavored Collagen Peptides Dietary Supplement, mixing 1 scoop with your favorite hot or cold beverage. Keep in mind that our bodies use nutrients where they’re needed, not necessarily where we want them to be used. So, if you’re hoping for decreased wrinkles but you have a cut on your leg, that protein and collagen will likely be used to heal your wound before giving you that youthful appearance.
Protect Your Body’s Collagen Stores
Though collagen production decreases with age, there are some ways to protect your current collagen stores:
- Avoid direct sun exposure.
- Decrease overall stress and try to get more sleep.
- Avoid tobacco products.
- Add enjoyable movement or exercise.
While it may not come as a surprise, a well-balanced diet is key before you opt for supplementation. Include high-protein and high-collagen food sources, in combination with fruits, vegetables and whole grains to aid in absorption, which will help boost the body's natural production of collagen. Schedule an appointment with a registered dietitian to get accurate, credible information about ways you can boost your body’s collagen production and eat for a more vibrant life.
Disclaimer: This information is educational only and is not meant to provide healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.