Collagen: Everything you need to know

Collagen is the most abundant protein found in the body. It is found in muscles, bones, skin, the digestive tract, and blood vessels.

We don’t tend to DIRECTLY eat collagen, as it would involve eating gelatin, connective tissue and bone (no thanks). However, bone broth is one of the few great sources of collagen in the diet.

We make collagen from the protein that we eat, so meat-lovers and vegans alike all produce collagen, as long as we get enough protein from our diets. Read more about getting enough protein here.

It’s important to know that our production of collagen naturally declines as we age. This is why our skin elasticity diminishes and our joints can become painful as we get older. Our demand for collagen may also increase if we have joint or muscle injuries, or digestive dysfunction, like in Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, SIBO, leaky gut, or IBS.

HOWEVER, a collagen supplement doesn’t absorb as a whole entity from your digestive tract into your blood stream! Your body needs to take it apart to absorb the components and then rebuild and integrate it into your muscles, skin, bones, and tendons. Taking a collagen supplement is like buying a lego set for a house: you know all the pieces you need are in the box, you just need to put them together. You could build the same house using pieces from other sets, but you might be missing a few bricks.

Now that we understand how a collagen supplement works, here’s how it may be beneficial:

  1. Skin and Anti-ageing: A Systematic Review of 11 research studies shows that it boosts skin elasticity, hydration, dermal collagen density, and reduces signs of ageing.
  2. Digestion: Research shows that it enhances tight junctions and reduces inflammation in the gut, which improves digestive symptoms in patients with IBS, IBD, GERD and SIBO (a lot of acronyms, but basically any digestive condition!).
  3. Repairs joints: Builds cartilage and connective tissue to support joint repair in people with osteoarthritis and joint pain.
  4. Source of #protein: 1 scoop provides 10g of protein, although it may NOT have all essential amino acids (the one on my counter is missing Tryptophan, which is an important thing to have if you have anxiety or depression!).

There are also different types of collagen, so we want to make sure we make the right choice to target the areas of your body that need support:

  • Types I and III improve gut health, muscle recovery, and skin health
  • Type II is found in cartilage, so it is best used for joint health
  • Type IV and V aren’t typically supplemented
  • Type X is found in bones and helps with fracture healing but isn’t typically supplemented
  • Hydrolyzed collagen is great because it dissolves in coffee (my preferred route!), water, oatmeal, or smoothies.

Do not start any new supplements without speaking with your Naturopathic Doctor, as they may not be safe or beneficial for you.

Please note that I am accepting patients during the COVID-19 isolation via Video Consultations. Appointments can be booked here.

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