How Much Collagen Should You Take
What You Need to Know About This Anti-Aging Super Protein
By Dr. Chad Walding, DPT
August 14th, 2019
Curious if you really need to supplement with collagen every day? Short answer: Yes! Absolutely. To make sure your body is getting the collagen it needs, adding collagen supplements to your daily diet is a guaranteed way to help ensure you’re getting enough of this whole-body health-promoting super protein.
Yes, it’s true, collagen supplements are having a moment. But, with the long list of health benefits of collagen supplements, you quickly start to see why the spotlight is on them. Essentially the “glue” holding your body together, you would literally start to fall apart without collagen.
When you start to lose collagen – starting as early as your 20s – your skin starts to lose its vibrant youthful appearance, your joints get achy, and you experience more digestive issues, among other not-so-great consequences.
By the time you hit your 30s, you can lose up to 1.5% of collagen each year.1 This loss might not seem like much, but it really adds up over time. Besides your age, collagen gets depleted through other factors like pollution, diets high in sugar, and even certain medical conditions preventing your body from making needed collagen.
So, if your body isn’t making enough collagen on its own, what are you supposed to do?
Fortunately, nature has provided us with an abundance of solutions to the many health problems we face. This is where collagen supplements come in. So, how much collagen should you take each day to make up for what your body no longer produces and to promote your overall health? And what is it about collagen supplements that makes them so popular these days? Read on to find out.
How Much Collagen Should You Take Each Day?
How much collagen your body needs each day really depends on your body. With that said, I do recommend a minimum amount for everyone as a starting point. Just 5-10 grams of collagen each and every day starts to increase both glycine and proline production. We’ll discuss a little later about why these two amino acids are the main stars of the show when it comes to collagen production and synthesis.
But for now, here’s a breakdown of my recommended daily dose of collagen supplementing, by the desired effect:2
- 5-10 grams of collagen each day
- Increases glycine production
- Increases proline production
- 10-15 grams of collagen each day
- Increases energy
- Promotes a healthy weight
- Reduces inflammation
- Promotes gut health
- Improves digestion
- Promotes healthier hair, skin, and nails
- 30 grams of collagen each day
- Promotes whole-body healing
- Promotes joint health
- Replenishes cells
- Builds muscle
You’ll want to take a higher amount of 30 grams of collagen each day if you have an intense exercise routine and want to build lean muscle. And, if you have joint pain, digestive issues, or trouble losing weight, you’ll notice the most improvement in these areas as well when you take 30 grams of collagen each day.
What Is Collagen and Why Does Your Body Need It?
Very simply, collagen is a protein found in every organ and tissue in your body. It’s second only to water as the most common substance in your body. At about one-third of your body’s total protein, collagen is highly concentrated in your skin, internal organs, bones, and the rest of your body’s connective tissue.3
Collagen is absolutely essential for the health of your connective tissues. It helps these tissues withstand all the tension and stretching your body endures.
Here’s a little known amazing fact: some types of collagen, including Type 1, are up to 10 times stronger than steel.4
Collagen’s incredible strength comes from its firm yet flexible structure. It’s formed by three long and thin polypeptide chains, made up of amino acids, tightly wound together forming a strong triple helix.
There are at least 28 different types of collagen in your body, but the most abundant types are Type 1, Type 2, and Type 3.5 Each of these performs different and similar functions and together make about 90% of the total collagen found in your body.
Type 1 & Type 3 Collagen
Type 1 collagen is by far the most abundant type of collagen in your body and is typically found together with Type 3 collagen. Found just about everywhere in your body (except cartilage), these two types of collagen dominate the space between your cells known as the extracellular matrix.6,7
The extracellular matrix is vitally important for you to live a functional life. It’s three-dimensional structure, made up of macromolecules like collagen, cushion and separate your organs, protecting them from injury.8
Type 1 and Type 3 collagen are best known for improving the elasticity and hydration of your skin, giving you a more youthful appearance. And they’re also excellent at maintaining the integrity of your spine, muscles, and eyes. This dynamic duo is also especially good at healing the lining of your gut.
And we know how essential gut health is for our overall health.
Type 2 Collagen
Type 2 collagen is the major type of collagen found in your cartilage. Making up at least 50% of the protein in your cartilage, Type 2 collagen is hugely important in supporting the health of your bones and joints.
The unique formation of Type 2 collagen is rigid, yet flexible and strong, giving your joints the ability to absorb the shock of constant compression.9
Together, these three types of collagen dominate the tissues in your body. Although collagen is made up of 19 different amino acids, each with specific benefits, the two most abundant amino acids found in collagen are glycine and proline.10
What Is Glycine?
Known as the “anti-aging amino acid,” glycine makes up about 30% of collagen. Even though glycine is the smallest amino acid, it's very important for the synthesis of other necessary amino acids. Without it, your body is unable to repair damaged tissues.11
Beyond this, glycine plays an important role in your digestive system by regulating the breakdown of fat. Glycine is also a cell-protecting antioxidant and promotes the health of your liver and kidneys.12
Many of the health benefits you get from collagen come from glycine. In addition to what I’ve already mentioned, this tiny amino acid provides your body with numerous other health benefits such as:
- Reduces the risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome13
- Reduces inflammation14
- Improves blood pressure15
- Prevents arthritis16
- Promotes better sleep17
- Improves gut lining and prevents leaky gut18
- Protects the kidneys and liver19
What Is Proline?
Making up about 10-15% of collagen, proline is important for the synthesis of collagen. Your body first needs to convert proline to the amino acids hydroxylysine and hydroxyproline in order to make collagen.
Even though proline (along with glycine) is a “non-essential” amino acid – meaning your body has the ability to make it on its own – the name is deceiving. So much so that mounting evidence suggests it should be considered a “conditionally essential” or “functionally essential” amino acid when you take into account how vitally important it is to our bodies.20
The benefits of proline are significant and include the following:
- Aids in (and is vital to) wound healing21
- Improves the immune system22
- Prevents obesity23
- Aids in digestion24
- Improves cardiovascular health25
- Protects reproductive health26
Even though your body can make proline and glycine, it seems it doesn’t quite make enough to meet your body’s needs. So, in order to make sure your body is getting enough of these amino acids to do its job, you need to provide it through your diet. This is where collagen supplements can help and are a great way to ensure you’re getting enough proline and glycine.
Health Benefits of Taking Collagen Peptides Daily
You’ve just read about the specific benefits of the three main collagen types in your body, including the specific benefits of glycine and proline. So, by now, you probably have a pretty solid idea of why collagen is so good for you.
Now let’s take an even closer look at the amazing health benefits of adding a collagen peptide supplement to your daily diet:
- Improves skin elasticity, hydration, and overall appearance27
- Tones and sculpts lean muscle28
- Supports healthy and strong nails and hair29
- Increases joint strength and flexibility and relieves pain30
- Increases gut health and improves digestion31
- Increases energy32
- Enhances brain health33
- Promotes heart health34
- Prevents bone loss35
- Promotes a healthy weight36
So, What Exactly Are Collagen Supplements?
Collagen supplements are considered a functional food because they provide many health benefits beyond basic nutrition.37 Whether the label says “collagen peptides,” “hydrolyzed collagen,” or “collagen hydrolysate,” (which all mean the same thing) you know you’re getting all the same benefits collagen has to offer.
The collagen in these supplements usually come from four animal sources:
- Bovine (cows)
- Porcine (pigs)
- Marine (fish)
Bovine collagen is the most popular source of collagen and it mostly contains Types 1 and 3 collagen. Because these are the types found most abundantly in our bodies, it’s also what you’ll find in all of my collagen products.
What Is Hydrolyzed Collagen Protein?
Since your body can’t effectively use the collagen extracted from these sources directly, collagen first needs to go through a process called hydrolysis.38 Hydrolysis breaks up the amino acids in collagen, making their chains much shorter. These shorter chains are called “peptides.”
Collagen peptides are much more bioavailable to your body and easier on your digestive system. They’re pretty much odorless and tasteless and dissolve easily in any liquid because of their tiny size.
So adding collagen peptides to anything you consume is as easy as stirring it into whatever you’re making, from coffee to soup to smoothies. And, speaking of smoothies, be sure to check out my Collagen Smoothie Book with 30 delicious collagen-boosting recipes. It’s an easy way to incorporate collagen peptides into your daily diet.
What About Getting Collagen From Your Diet?
I always recommend eating well and living a healthy lifestyle as a first step in promoting your body's natural ability to heal and repair itself. Although collagen protein powders are fantastic at helping your body naturally boost collagen production, your body still requires other nutrients in order for these supplements to work optimally.
With that in mind, here’s a list of nutrients and nutrient-rich foods that promote your body’s ability to make new collagen:39
- Vitamin A: Largely found in orange fruits and veggies like carrots, cantaloupe, and sweet potatoes, foods rich in vitamin A help by restoring damaged collagen.
- Vitamin C: This antioxidant-rich vitamin, found in foods like bell peppers, broccoli, and citrus fruits, is extremely important for your body to produce collagen. Vitamin C also helps by neutralizing free-radicals, preventing them from breaking down collagen in your body.
- Dark leafy greens: Their high chlorophyll content (what makes them green) promotes collagen synthesis, and their high amount of skin-loving antioxidants help protect you from free radicals.40
- Lycopene: Red veggies boost your collagen production because they’re full of lycopene – think red peppers, tomatoes, and beets. They also protect you from the effects of sun-damage, or overexposure to ultraviolet rays. Too much exposure to ultraviolet rays is a big factor in the depletion of collagen in your body.
- Berries: All types of berries work by both detoxifying your body of skin-damaging free radicals and boosting collagen levels.
- Sulfur: This mineral is excellent at synthesizing collagen. Garlic is one of the best sources of sulfur you can find, but there are other sources like eggs, onions, cabbage, and broccoli. Your body actually can’t produce collagen without sulfur, so be sure to get enough of this mineral.
- Garlic: In addition to sulfur, garlic also contains taurine and lipoic acid, which help rebuild damaged collagen fibers.
- Bone Broth: Full of glycine and proline, as well as growth factors called glycosaminoglycans, bone broth is incredibly good for you and its benefits go beyond providing your body with collagen.
When you hit the point in aging, usually by your 30s, where your body starts to slow down its production of endogenous collagen – collagen produced by your body – you start to see and feel the effects. In fact, between the ages of 20 and 60, you can lose as much as 50% of your collagen. And it keeps going down from there.41
Thankfully, you can turn back the hands of time by changing your diet and lifestyle to one that optimizes your health. And, you can boost your body’s ability to produce collagen through supplementation as well.
What to Look for in a Collagen Supplement
When you look for a collagen supplement, look for high-quality collagen supplements sourced from healthy animals that are ethically and sustainably sourced. These animals are grass-fed and pasture-raised, or wild-caught when it comes to fish.
You can be sure the quality of your collagen supplement falls in line with this standard when it’s developed in a certified Good Manufacturing Practices facility and in a third-party, FDA approved laboratory.
You also want a supplement without any additional and unnecessary fillers including:
- Added Sugar
And finally, you want to make sure the collagen is “hydrolyzed collagen.” Otherwise, your body won’t be able to use it.
This is the standard and high-quality collagen we use at NativePath in all of our collagen products.
Wondering if you picked the right kind of collagen supplement? Read: The Problem With Collagen Supplements
Do Collagen Supplements Work and Are They Safe?
Collagen supplements have been and continue to be well studied as they gain more and more popularity. Not only are they found to be a bona fide way to increase needed collagen in your body, but there are also very few downsides when taken in the right amount.42
It’s important to know that collagen isn’t actually a complete protein. Of the nine essential amino acids making up a complete protein, collagen lacks the amino acid tryptophan – making it incomplete. Even though collagen is an incomplete protein, it’s made up of many amino acids often lacking in today’s modern diets, including glycine and proline.
In a recent study looking at how much collagen protein can be taken each day as part of your overall protein intake, it was found that a little over one-third of your daily protein can come from collagen peptides without causing any type of nutritional deficiencies.43
As we’ve discussed, collagen protein is very good for you. But, like many things in life, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. This is true in the case of collagen supplements as well. This is why it’s important to have a diet rich in a variety of nutrients and to use collagen supplements as just that – a supplement to a healthy diet.
How Do You Know If Your Body Needs More Collagen?
We’ve learned that we begin to lose our collagen stores naturally as we age. We’ve also learned that diet and lifestyle choices play a huge role in the amount of collagen our body is able to produce. But, how can you know if your body is actually deficient in collagen?
The most obvious way for most is the appearance of your skin – are those fine lines and wrinkles on your face showing up more and more? Another big indicator is if you’re feeling more aches and pains in your joints and bones and your body just doesn’t heal as quickly as it once did.
If this sounds like you, then your body most likely needs more collagen. Don’t wait until problems show up even more before you do something about them.
I believe that collagen is the most important superfood for successful aging. When you have the right amount in your diet, it’s proven to play a key role in slowing down the aging process.
By supplementing with a high-quality hydrolyzed collagen powder, you can boost your body’s natural production of collagen and experience all of the positive youth-rebooting benefits. With just 1-2 scoops of my NativePath Grass-Fed Collagen, you can effectively combat the signs of aging and help rejuvenate your body, inside and out.
Ready to help your body not only look and feel better but also take back control of your body’s aging process? Head over to my store right now and check out which collagen products are right for you!
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