Collagen: Why You Need It and How to Choose the Right One
By Dr. Chad Walding, DPT
October 9th, 2019
Collagen has garnered a reputation for being the golden ticket to anti-aging. It’s even been dubbed by some as the secret to the fountain of youth.
But is collagen really all it’s cracked up to be and can it really help you fight back against the effects of aging? The answer is: Yes!
While the bold claims regarding collagen might sound too good to be true, there’s extensive research and personal testimonials from everyday people just like you supporting the power of collagen. Read on to see just why collagen has taken the health world by storm and certainly won’t be leaving the limelight anytime soon.
What Exactly is Collagen?
Collagen is sort of like the “glue” that helps hold your body together. It’s a fibrous protein found throughout your body and makes up about one-third of the protein found in your body. Collagen is found in nearly every tissue in your body, including your:
- Digestive tract
- Blood vessels
Collagen is considered a “complex protein”, meaning it is made up of a number of distinct amino acids (the building blocks of protein). These molecules of amino acids pack together to form long thin chains known as fibrils.
These collagen fibrils are what gives our tissues strength, structure, and elasticity. In fact, certain types of collagen fibrils are so strong that when compared gram for gram, it’s even stronger than steel!1
Where Does Collagen Come From?
Our bodies naturally produce collagen. Numerous cells have the capacity to secrete collagen, but it is primarily produced by your connective tissues.
As we age, our bodies collagen production slowly declines and the integrity and elasticity of collagen-rich tissues begins to breakdown.2 This is why our skin gets wrinkled or crepey and we tend to become stiffer and less flexible as we get older.
Collagen can also be found in the foods and supplements we consume. Naturally, foods high in collagen come from connective tissues found in animals such as the skin or bones.
Collagen supplements are always derived from animals since collagen is only found in the tissues of animals and humans. Most collagen supplements are sourced from the following animals:
- Bovine (cows)
- Marine (fish)
- Porcine (pigs)
What’s the Difference Between Collagen and Gelatin?
Collagen and gelatin are often mentioned in the same breath. That’s because gelatin is actually derived from collagen.
When collagen is broken down, it becomes gelatin. For example, when you cook bone broth, the collagen within the bones is cooked down into gelatin. So gelatin is made of collagen, but it’s just in a different form.
Think of it like apples and applesauce. Both are made from apples, but the difference lies in how they are prepared. Same with collagen and gelatin.
Factors That Affect Your Collagen Levels
Your body's natural production of collagen can fluctuate and be impacted by a number of factors such as:3
Collagen levels inevitably decline as we age. The older you get the more collagen levels naturally begin to drop off.
Smoking introduces chemicals that directly damage collagen and other proteins that support collagen production. Nicotine also narrows blood vessels which reduce the delivery of vital nutrients to tissues that are high in collagen such as the skin.
High Sugar Consumption and Nutritional Deficiencies:
A high sugar diet and nutritional deficiencies nearly always go hand in hand. High sugar consumption damages collagen levels by increasing the production of advanced glycation end products or AGEs. AGEs cause damage to proteins including collagen.
Nutritional deficiencies also result in the depletion of the building blocks necessary for optimal collagen production.
To learn more about how your diet can impact your health and how to get back to your roots with a healthy diet, dive into these articles:
- Ancestral Eating: What Are the Health Benefits?
- What Is the Paleo Diet? A Beginner’s Guide to This Popular Diet
Certain autoimmune disorders such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis may cause your immune system to mistakenly target and attack collagen and the tissues that produce collagen.
Do I Really Need a Collagen Supplement?
Your body naturally produces collagen–so do you really need to take a daily collagen supplement? The answer is: Absolutely!
Natural collagen production inevitably declines as we age and collagen depletion can begin as early as your 20’s. And by the time you reach your 30’s, your collagen can be depleted by up to 1.5 percent each year!
Nobody wants to lose their youthful appearance, deal with joint aches and pains, or struggle with digestive issues. And while aging is inevitable, we are lucky enough to live in a day and age where we have access to natural supplements like collagen that can help slow the process and keep us feeling vibrant.
Taking a daily collagen supplement is one of the most powerful antidotes against aging and one of the best supplements for overall health. But heading to the supplement aisle can be overwhelming. Even more so when there are different types of collagen to choose from. Let’s take a look at the different types of collagen and what role they play in the body.
Types of Collagen
There are at least 16 different types of collagen. But the majority of the collagen found in the human body is made up of:
- Type 1: This type of collagen consists of dense fibrils that provide support and structure to tissues such as bones, tendons, teeth, connective tissue, and skin.
- Type 2: This type of collagen is less dense than Type 1 and is found more in the cartilage that cushions your joints.
- Type 3: Type 3 collagen is mostly found in your internal organs and skin–providing structure and elasticity
While there are a number of different types of collagen found in the body, some play a more critical role than others. Since Type 1 and Type 3 collagen make up about 90 percent of the collagen in your body, it’s no surprise that these varieties of collagen play a bigger role in the body than others.
Type 1 and Type 3 collagen are typically found together and make up much of the space found in between your cells referred to as your extracellular matrix.4 The extracellular matrix is a three-dimensional structure that provides the physical scaffolding of the cell but also plays a vital role in biochemical processes and communication amongst cells.5
Boosting levels of these two types of collagen is the secret sauce that makes collagen such a powerful anti-aging supplement.
What Are the Benefits of Collagen
Considering collagen is like the glue that keeps your body together, saying it’s important would be an understatement. Adequate collagen levels are vital to feeling and looking good.
Boosting your collagen levels is beneficial in more ways than we can count, but let’s go over some of the particularly important benefits.
Collagen Improves the Appearance of Your Skin
Collagen is important for skin structure, elasticity, and moisture retention. Consuming collagen has been found to help:6,7
- Reduce fine lines and wrinkles
- Minimize the appearance of cellulite and stretch marks
- Increase moisture retention
- Improve elasticity
The impressive effects of collagen are three-fold. By increasing collagen consumption you are obviously increasing collagen in your system. But it also stimulates your natural collagen production. Additionally, it promotes the production of elastin and fibrillin–2 proteins essential to the structure of your skin.8
Collagen Stimulates Your Hair and Nails to Grow
How would you like longer, thicker, more luscious hair and strong beautiful nails? Well, what’s good for your skin is also good for your hair and nails. Collagen has been found to:9
- Stimulate hair growth
- Prevent brittle nails
- Help nails grow longer
Collagen Improves Joint Health
Cartilage is the rubbery connective tissue that supports and connects your joints. Collagen is an important component when it comes to cartilage health, regeneration, and movement. As we age and collagen production dips, we are more susceptible to problems such as:10
- Joint pain
- Joint stiffness
- Degenerative joint disorders
But collagen supplementation can lower joint inflammation and stimulate cartilage to synthesize more of its own collagen. In fact, studies have found that people who take collagen have a significant decrease in joint pain and are able to better engage in physical activities.11,12
Collagen is Good For Your Bones
When you think of bone health, your thoughts likely jump to calcium. But calcium is only one of the components necessary for healthy bones. Your bones are actually comprised of mostly collagen–which is why they are so strong.13
Collagen supplementation can prevent bone loss and even increase bone mineral density. Multiple studies have found that increased collagen inhibits bone breakdown and improves the amount of healthy minerals in bones.14,15
Collagen Boosts Muscle Mass
Your muscles are made up of a small percentage of collagen. But this small percentage is important when it comes to keeping muscles strong and functioning correctly.16
Collagen supplements can help increase muscle mass and strength–particularly in those with age-related muscle loss. One study found that when frail men took a daily collagen supplement while participating in an exercise program, they gained significantly more muscle mass than men who didn't take collagen.17
Collagen Supports Weight Loss
Collagen can help support weight loss in a couple of ways. For one, collagen can help boost lean muscle mass. More muscle means your body burns more calories just by existing.
Collagen supplements can also improve feelings of satiation – meaning it helps you feel fuller for longer.18 Increased feelings of satiation naturally leads to less feelings of hunger and fewer calories consumed.
Collagen Helps Heal Leaky Gut
You’ve likely heard the term leaky gut thrown around a lot in recent years. In simplest terms, leaky gut occurs when the lining in your digestive tract is weakened and compromised resulting in tiny “gaps” that allow particles to seep through your intestinal lining.
Leaky gut syndrome can have major negative impacts on your overall health. It’s been linked with serious and wide-ranging disorders such as:
- Autoimmune disorders
- Metabolic conditions
Collagen supplements can play a vital role in healing leaky gut syndrome. Collagen works to fill in the gaps of the intestinal lining–essentially “sealing the leaks.”
Collagen is Good For Your Heart
Your blood vessels need to be strong yet supple to properly carry blood from your heart to the rest of your body. When veins and arteries begin to lose their strength and suppleness they can become weak, stiff, and narrow. This can significantly increase your risk of a heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular-related issues.
But collagen supplements provide blood vessels with the building blocks they need to maintain their integrity and elasticity. Studies have found that taking a daily collagen supplement can produce a significant reduction in artery stiffness and drastically reduce your risk of heart related conditions.19
Side Effects of Collagen
Overall collagen supplements have been found to be safe with no significant side effects. Since collagen is naturally produced by the body, it is one of the safest and most natural supplements around.
One thing to keep in mind though is where collagen supplements are sourced from. Some companies may obtain collagen from some common allergens such as fish, shellfish, or eggs. This may present a problem if you have an allergy or sensitivity to any of these foods.
So it’s important to thoroughly read the label of any collagen supplements before purchasing. Selecting a high-quality supplement from a reputable company is the best way to ensure you’re avoiding any allergens and getting the most for your money.
What is the Best Collagen Supplement?
When it comes to choosing the best supplement, quality matters! When deciding on a collagen supplement, there are a few factors you should take into account such as:
Where the Collagen is Sourced From:
As the saying goes – you are what you eat. And you certainly don’t want to be consuming collagen that comes from unhealthy animals.
Select a high-quality collagen supplement that comes from healthy animals that are sustainably and ethically raised. Look for labels that specify animals are 100 percent grass-fed and pasture-raised, or in the case of fish, wild-caught.
Other Ingredients in the Supplement:
Many supplement companies will add in inexpensive “fillers” to increase their profit margin. Read labels carefully and avoid products with cheap fillers or that contain unnecessary ingredients.
Seal of Quality:
When it comes to collagen (or any supplement for that matter) it’s important to purchase from a reputable company you can trust. The best way to know if a company is trustworthy is to look for a company that develops its products in a certified Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) facility and is tested by a third party FDA approved laboratory.
In order to be properly absorbed by the body, collagen must undergo a process known as hydrolyzation. This is simply a process that breaks the collagen down into a form that is more bioavailable and more readily absorbed.
Collagen that has been hydrolyzed can go by several names including:
- Hydrolyzed collagen
- Collagen peptides
- Collagen hydrolysate
- Hydrolyzed collagen peptides
The Types of Collagen Included in Supplement:
If you’re truly looking to enjoy the benefits of collagen, the most important thing to look for is types of collagen included in the supplement.
When sifting through collagen supplements, you will find that some are labeled as “multi-collagen”, while others will only have a Type 1 and Type 3 collagen included.
Not all collagen is created equally, and it's important to understand the difference between supplements that contain “multi-collagen” and those that only contain Type 1 and 3 collagen.
Multi-Collagen Vs. Type 1 and 3 Collagen:
You may see some supplement companies promoting “Multi-collagen” and boasting about “diverse” sources of collagen being beneficial. But the truth is, “Multi-Collagen” supplements might as well be labeled “watered-down” collagen.
That’s because not all collagen types are absorbed by the body equally. Type 2, 4, and 5 collagen are cheaper forms of collagen and are poorly absorbed by the body. So when you consume this watered-down collagen, you’re actually only getting a fraction of the benefits of collagen supplements.
On the other hand, supplements that contain only Type 1 and Type 3 collagen will give you the most bang for your buck. Unlike “multi-collagen”, these two collagen types are well absorbed and effectively utilized by the body. Consuming a collagen supplement that only contains high-quality and highly absorbable Type 1 and Type 3 collagen is without a doubt the best way to truly reap the numerous benefits of collagen.
Ready to Enjoy the Rejuvenating Effects of Collagen?
Collagen is hands-down one of the most powerful superfoods on earth. It can help you restore that vibrant glow, ward off aches and pains, and make you feel youthful from the inside out. If you want to age gracefully and feel great doing it–you need a daily collagen supplement.
But all collagen is not created equally. You deserve only the purest and highest quality collagen available on the market.
Which is why we have invested so much time and effort in researching how exactly to produce a superior collagen supplement. What exactly do we mean by a superior supplement?
- A research-backed formula painstakingly developed under strict Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) in a third party FDA approved laboratory and certified GMP facility.
- Absolutely zero unnecessary fillers, additives, or poor quality substitutes.
- A guarantee that our collagen is free from gluten, dairy, or GMO’s.
- Collagen sourced from the healthiest and highest quality animals. All of our animals are 100 percent grass-fed and pasture-raised.
- The purest and most easily digestible collagen in the world.
- An ideal ratio of Type 1 & Type 3 collagen, so you always get the most bang for your buck.
- Thousands of testimonials from happy customers who have transformed their health through our top of the line supplements.
- A 90-day risk-free money-back guarantee. If you’re not satisfied, you receive a full refund.
You read that right–we offer a 90-day, 100 percent money-back guarantee. That’s how much we believe in and stand behind our products. It is our mission and our privilege to provide our customers with only the very best information and products so they can pursue their own path to optimal health. Click here to try NativePath Collagen 100 percent risk-free.
Ways to Enjoy NativePath Collagen
We don’t think being healthy should ever be boring. So we’ve formulated our collagen in a variety of ways so it’s easy and enjoyable to take. Check out our full collection of collagen supplements:
We get it, sometimes adding another supplement to your routine can feel tedious or like another thing to add to your to-do list.
So we’ve put together some ways to make taking your NativePath Collagen supplement as pain-free and delicious as possible. Head over and check out our collection of collagen recipes.
We’ve compiled a list of our favorite recipes that we know you’ll love like our