Collagen is the most abundant protein found throughout our body in skin, muscle, cartilage, bones, organs, tendons, arteries and even the cornea of our eyes. Collagen provides structure and strength to our tissues and is kind of like the ‘glue’ that binds everything together.
90% of the collagen in our bodies is referred to as Type I while Type II collagen makes up 70% of our cartilage. Type III is found in our muscle facia which is involved in every movement we make. Type IV is found in what’s known as basement membrane – a thin layer located between epithelial tissue and the tissue beneath it (eg. blood vessels, organs, esophagus, and intestines)
We often think of bones being hard and inflexible, but they are a mixture of minerals and collagen (Type I). Collagen in bones is like rebar – (the reinforcing steels rods within concrete structures like bridges and high rise buildings). In order for our body to make collagen, it needs some help from the mineral silicon, vitamin C, copper and vitamin K2.
After our mid twenties our body’s production of collagen decreases 1% per year every year. In the first five years of menopause due to loss of estrogen, women can lose up to 30% of Type I and III in their skin before the decline levels off. Other contributors to a loss of collagen is sun damage, smoking, pollution and over-exercise as these all increase the production of enzymes like collagenase which breaks down collagen. Supplementing with antioxidant rich super foods and vitamin C with bioflavonoids all year round can help offset this damage.Wrinkled and sagging skin, easy bruising and slow wound healing are all signs of collagen loss. Creaky and stiff joints particularly knees, hips and fingers can also be an indicator of reduced collagen production, along with osteopenia (the early stage of osteoporosis).
So what should you look for in a collagen supplement? Collagen peptides (hydrolyzed collagen) is essentially ‘pre-digested’ and more bioavailable than just regular collagen. Our body simply absorbs the peptides into the bloodstream and can utilize it right away. When it comes to a regular collagen supplement, regardless of Type I, II or III, your body digests and breaks down the collagen into peptides and amino acids so it no longer recognizes what form it once was anyway.
Is bone broth just as effective as collagen? Bone broth is very nutritious but does not provide the same benefit as collagen peptides. All dietary protein is digested and broken down into amino acids which the body will then reorganize and determine what new proteins they will be built into (cellular repair or neurotransmitter production etc.) Whereas the collagen peptides are ready-to-go building blocks of collagen that are taken to the parts of the body that can use them.
What if you’re vegan? Since all collagen is animal or fish derived, supplementing with the mineral silicon, vitamin C and K2 and the amino acid l-lysine can help the body produce collagen (although not as effectively as collagen peptides).
If you’re over the age of 45 then collagen is a BIG deal – whether male or female – for appearance or health prevention – for wrinkles or for strong bones and supple arteries or sore knees– we need collagen! It’s so easy to use - unflavoured collagen peptide powder is virtually tasteless and can be mixed in any cold or hot food or liquid (even coffee!)