Collagen: benefits, supplements & more
In recent years, collagen has become a buzzword in the health, skin care and wellness space. It’s used by many of us out there, but what exactly is collagen, what is it good for, and how can you incorporate it into your own routine? Here, we’re diving headfirst into the world of collagen to uncover more about this trending supplement and help you decide whether it’s a good fit for you.
What is collagen?
The most abundant structural protein in the body, collagen is found in the hair, skin, nails, connective tissue, tendons, and bones. It acts as a glue-forming protein that affects the firmness and elasticity of the skin. Collagen is composed of the amino acids hydroxyproline, glycine and proline, among others.
There are at least 28 different collagen types, although the three most important ones for skin care, joints and more are:
The most abundant collagen in the body, Type I supports skin care, tendons, and bones.
Primarily found in cartilage, Type II is essential for joint health.
Often found alongside Type I, Type III supports the structure of organs, blood vessels, and skin.
What is collagen good for?
Although the body can produce collagen by itself, the amount it’s able to dwindles as we age. This decrease in collagen production can lead to certain signs of aging that we all have to come to terms with eventually — wrinkles. It’s by no means a miracle skin care elixir, but collagen is partly responsible for the firmness and elasticity of the skin, so maintaining our intake through certain foods and collagen supplements is key. Collagen also gives structure and elasticity to nails, bones, muscles and joints.
Collagen is partly responsible for the firmness and elasticity of the skin
How much collagen do you need per day?
Several studies show that adults benefit from 2.5g to 15g of collagen per day. In addition to the collagen produced by the body, you can also get a portion of this daily dose from food and collagen supplements.
What foods contain collagen?
If you want to give your skin care a boost in the right direction, it can’t hurt to watch your collagen intake after the age of 25. Here are some natural collagen sources:
One of the best ways to ingest collagen for your skin care routine is with a nice hot broth. Sure, it’s easy to make your own with a cube of stock from the supermarket, but homemade broth will be much richer in collagen (and tastier!). Ask your mum or grandma for a good recipe or search the web and give it a go yourself.
You can also get collagen through red meats like beef, pork, and lamb. These (and many others) also contain the amino acids the body needs to make its own collagen. Too much red meat, however, does carry other health risks, so try to limit your portions to around three per week.
Another good collagen source is chicken. In particular, the skin. So, the next time you’re cooking up your famous Sunday roast, remember to turn up the heat and get it extra crispy.
Again, it’s not necessarily the meat of the fish that contains the most collagen but the skin. Get your salmon with the skin on for a good collagen portion in one sitting.
Getting enough collagen as a vegan
It can be difficult for vegetarians and vegans to get enough collagen through food (as you can see, the sources above are all animal). Unfortunately, vegan collagen supplements are not available. If you live a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, it’s better to support your skin in other ways. Paying attention to your vitamin C intake, for example, is important as it contributes to normal collagen formation for the normal function of skin.
If you’re a flexitarian that leans more plant-based, or you just don’t like red meats, broth and skin, it’s still possible to get extra collagen using collagen supplements. Read on for more information on the types of collagen supplements available.
What are collagen supplements made of?
If collagen already occurs naturally in our bodies, then what are collagen supplements made from? Well, we can divide collagen into three different categories:
This common form of collagen often comes from bovine bones, although it’s also found in/under the skin of a bovine.
Pig collagen is mainly extracted from the bones of pigs. We often see it in the form of gelatin.
The collagen in fish is of a similar protein structure to that of humans. This means that our body can absorb this collagen type the best.
How many mg of collagen does a supplement contain?
Collagen dosage varies from product to product. As we discussed earlier, it’s been scientifically proven that adults benefit from 2.5g to 15g of collagen per day. So, you can assume that most supplements contain at least 2.5g.
What are the best collagen supplements?
When there’s so many collagen supplements out there, finding the right one for you can be overwhelming. Here are our top picks:
Body&Fit Collagen Beauty Drink Mix is a good entry-level product for everyday use. Each serving contains 4.5g of protein along with a dose of vitamin C, vitamin E and manganese. It’s enriched with hyaluronic acid, another popular ingredient in beauty products, and available in refreshing raspberry flavour.
Body&Fit Pure Collagen Protein is more of a pure, high protein collagen supplement that’s perfect for after training. It contains 17g of protein per serving and is flavorless, making it excellent for adding to shakes and smoothies. In addition, 1 scoop is 20g, of which 17g is protein, and contains only 72 kcal. The product contains no added colors, flavours, sweeteners or preservatives.
Body&Fit Collagen Tabs contain 2.5mg of premium Verisol® collagen per daily dose (three tablets) on top of vitamin C, which contributes to the formation of collagen and supports normal skin function.
Do you struggle to take your daily collagen supplements, tabs and caps? Then read through our blog on building a routine and using a habit tracker. We explain exactly how you can stick to the agreements you make with yourself, such as taking vitamins and collagen supplements each day. You can find the article here: how to find a routine that works for you.
We also stock collagen supplements by the popular brand Vital Proteins. Their Marine Collagen, for example, provides 12g of high-quality white fish collagen peptides in a versatile powder that you can mix into both hot and cold liquids, smoothies and shakes.
The best supplements to pair with collagen
When you’re going about your daily collagen routine, keep these other supplements in mind for some extra oomph.
If foods like spinach, beef, oysters, brown rice and tempeh aren’t common in your diet, consider taking zinc (or a multivitamin containing zinc) along with your collagen supplements.
Collagen synthesis in our bodies requires vitamin C, so taking a vitamin C supplement along with your collagen supplement can help ensure that your body has everything it needs to make the most of the collagen. Vitamin C also contributes to normal collagen formation for the normal function of skin.
L-arginine is an amino acid that’s found naturally in our bodies and in many foods, including meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products.
Unlike whey, collagen protein is not a complete protein. This means that it doesn’t contain all of the nine essential amino acids our body needs to build proteins and function properly. Use a whey protein powder with your collagen supplements to reap the benefits of collagen while fuelling your body with all the protein it needs, especially after a hard workout.
Can collagen make you gain weight?
No, collagen will not directly cause you to gain weight. Of course, weight gain has to do with your overall lifestyle (every calorie you eat can cause you to put on weight). The main cause of weight gain is consuming more calories than you burn. Since collagen itself is low in calories, it is unlikely to have a significant impact on any weight gain.
Other foods that support the skin
Aside from collagen, a balanced and varied diet with lots of fruits and vegetables is essential for the skin. Make sure you get enough of the following vitamins:
Vitamin B3 (niacin)
A popular ingredient in skin care products, niacin contributes to the maintenance of normal skin. You can find it in meat, fish, whole grain cereals, vegetables and potatoes.
Also known as biotin, you can find vitamin B8 in eggs, liver, milk, nuts and peanuts. Like niacin, biotin contributes to the maintenance of normal skin.
The fat-soluble vitamin A also contributes to the maintenance of normal skin and is mainly found in animal products like meat, dairy, fish and egg yolks. Liver is especially high in vitamin A.
Vitamin C contributes to normal collagen formation for the normal function of skin and is found in fruits, vegetables and potatoes. Certain types of cabbage, peppers, citrus fruits, kiwis, berries and strawberries also contain a lot of this well-known vitamin.
When it comes to choosing collagen supplements, check the label for Verisol® and/or OptiMSM®. Verisol® collagen helps reduce the appearance of skin wrinkles, while OptiMSM® helps maintain normal skin texture. A healthy, well-balanced diet is essential, too. When you’re nourishing your body with all the right foods, that feel-good feeling is sure to shine through. For more information about collagen or any of the other health, fitness and beauty supplements across our range, feel free to contact our Nutrition Experts at @bodyandfit_official or keep reading the FAQs section below.
More FAQs about collagen & collagen supplements
If you haven’t found the answers you’re looking for just yet, check here for some more info about collagen and collagen supplements.
Can I get enough collagen from my diet alone?
It’s possible to obtain collagen through a balanced diet that includes collagen-rich foods. However, supplements can offer an additional, convenient collagen source to support skin health.
Are there any side effects of taking collagen supplements?
Collagen supplements are generally considered safe, although it’s always best to consult your healthcare provider before adding any new supplement into your daily routine.
Can I use topical collagen products instead of taking supplements?
Yes, topical collagen supplements are available. Although, a study in the Dermatology Practical & Conceptual Journal found no differences in the effectiveness of topical collagen products and oral collagen supplements.
Fish Collagen: Extraction, Characterization, and Applications for Biomaterials Engineering - PMC (nih.gov)
Collagen Supplements for Aging and Wrinkles: A Paradigm Shift in the Fields of Dermatology and Cosmetics - PMC (nih.gov)
Collagen Powder: Health Benefits, Safety Information, Dosage, and More (webmd.com)
Vegan collageen poeder – Een volwaardig alternatief? (viscollageen.nl)
How Much Collagen Should You Take Per Day? Experts Explain | mindbodygreen