Collagen is everywhere and those who are using it are raving about its role in their health regimen. Collagen seems to be the hottest, most talked about supplement right now. I’ve shared some photos of myself using collagen and I received probably the biggest response ever over a product. So, I wanted to dedicate a blog post to collagen. I am going to break this post into 2 (maybe 3) parts because that’s how much I’m into it.
In this post, I’m going to talk all about collagen: what it is, the role it plays in our bodies and the benefits. I’m also going to be discussing the exact collagen product and brand I’m using.
In a later post, I will share a 60 day update on my results since I began taking collagen because I feel like that will give me (and you) the “real deal” benefits on how a collagen supplement can support someone who leads an active lifestyle.
I actually began taking collagen in college. As you (*unfortunately* lol) know, I LOVE sprints but after a few months, my knees started hurting. A friend recommended collagen and I gave it a bit of an “eh, why not” type of try; I was actually a bit surprised when I felt as though it was improving my joint pain.
To be perfectly honest, I stopped taking it because at that time, I was 20 and not prioritizing health purchases… unless you consider new sneakers a health purchase because that did prioritize that lol.
Over the years, I continued hearing about collagen and it really started picking up in popularity. When I was pregnant and after I had my son, Leo, obviously my body changed quite a bit… I was a lot more achy in my joints and oh boy… my skin was wacky and my hair was falling out like crazy.
I recall I getting back from a run and telling my husband how sore my knee and ankle felt; it was actually Anthony who suggested to me… “why don’t you try that collagen you used to take.”
COLLAGEN – WHAT IS IT
As the most basic form… collagen is a protein. Collagen is actually the most abundant protein in the human body. It is located just about everywhere: muscles, bones, blood vessels, skin, hair, nails, the digestive system, tendons, ligaments, etc.
Let’s get into the nitty gritty science because I know you ladies are very smart and would love an in depth explanation. Collagen is a protein and as you know, proteins consist of various amino acids. Among others, collagen contains amino acids like: glycine, proline, hydroxyproline, and arginine. These amino acids play a vital role in the body’s connective tissue, skin, hair nails, and the digestive system.
How does the collagen protein differ from other kinds of protein, such as a whey protein/protein supplement?! It’s all about the amino acids. The type of amino acids and the unique combination gives each protein it’s particular role and benefits. Collagen protein is unique because of the amino acids involved and their combination, which play a role in the areas of the body described above.
Further, the shape and structure of collagen provides even more insight into it’s role in the body. There are a few types of collagen with slightly different structures, but overall collagen can be described as “triple helical.” Think of three strands of rope that are then twisted around one another to produce a tightly packed “triple-helical” formation. These strands all then interact with one another through bonding and whatnot to create the molecule known as: collagen. Sounds strong, right?! It is!
Clearly, the strong shape lends well to it’s role as a supportive molecule within the body. As we age, collagen production begins to slow down. We can see this through aging skin, wrinkles, changing hair color, less flexible joints, etc. This is why many of us are starting to seek it through diet and supplement form.
5 BIG-TIME BENEFITS OF COLLAGEN
SKIN + NAIL HEALTH
Superficially, this is one of the benefits I was really interested in initially. Collagen makes up around 70% of the protein found in the skin, providing it’s elasticity and firmness. Same with hair health – collagen is found there too. So, as our natural collagen production decreases, we see those signs of aging. Aging skin can also lead to an increase in the visibility of cellulite. Again, this benefit was something I was interested in for surface level reasons to be perfectly honest but it is a great benefit.
ALLEVIATED JOINT PAIN + PREVENTION
This is what I consider the greatest benefit of collagen. Why exactly do we experience joint pain? As we age, a decrease in collagen leads to tendons and ligaments (the connective tissues between bones and between bones and muscles) that are less elastic and flexible. The smooth, gel-like structure of collagen allows for joints to move more comfortably. My favorite analogy that I’ve read on this compares the role of collagen in joints to greasing a creaky door hinge.
Leaky gut syndrome comes up a lot when discussing the benefits of collagen. If you’re not familiar- “leaky gut syndrome” is just as it sounds. The digestive tract leaks and allows toxins to pass through; gut health is HUGE and we now know that many diseases are traced back to inflammation in the gut! Collagen’s role in connective tissues is thought to “seal and heal” the protective lining of the GI tract.
PROMOTES MUSCLE + METABOLISM
Glycine is one of the amino acids that comprises collagen; glycine plays a major role in helping convert glucose into energy to form muscle tissue and feed muscle cells. Promoting muscle mass also leads to an increased metabolism- you’ve heard me talk about how muscle mass increases the amount of calories we burn at rest. I really see this benefit as collagen supporting an active lifestyle, especially in someone who likes to lift weights.
Obviously, collagen is a protein and protein is a very important macronutrient. From a nutrition standpoint, protein is the macronutrient most responsible for satiety (the feeling of being full/satisfied). I take my collagen in the morning and/or the afternoon. It’s a great (and easy!) way to get in additional protein throughout the day!
THE EXACT COLLAGEN PRODUCT/BRAND I’M USING
So you know that I’m a little nutty about not sharing brands/products when it comes to most supplements. BUT, there is one brand that, in my opinion, really stands above the rest when it comes to collagen, which is why I feel very confident about sharing the details on exactly which collagen product I’ve been using.
You may have guessed it… Vital Proteins Collagen.
The reason I selected this brand is because of the purity and quality of the product. A lot on the market contain excess fillers and unnecessary junk.
There are a few types of collagen the brand has and I’ve used 2 but it’s just about your preference.
COLLAGEN PEPTIDES (these are sourced from grass-fed, pasture-rasied bovine hides from Brazil)
MARINE COLLAGEN (these are sourced from wild-caught, non-GMO Red Snapper off the coast of Hawaii)
I first started corresponding with Vital Proteins back in 2015 and have personally used their products on and off since then. Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I’m trying to be consistent with use for 60 days (I am already almost a month in) and then I’ll do a post on my update and exactly what benefits I noticed. I’m so excited to be working with Vital Proteins and I hope you really find these products as beneficial as I have been!
Okay, more to come on collagen. I’m actually thinking about a part 3 which I could do a Q&A on collagen if you’d be interested?! Let me know on my latest Instagram post!