Collagen has been getting a lot of attention the past couple of years and there are some good reasons why. Here we explain the health benefits and what the difference is between them.
Collagen is the most abundant protein making up our connective tissue, bones, cartilage and tendons. It is found in skin, hair, nails and joints. The main reason we need it is to provide structural and mechanical support to our connective tissues.
Supplemental collagen comes from the following options:
- Cows (the most common – look for pasture or grass fed over grain fed);
- Fish Scales (called Marine collagen); and
- Eggshell membrane.
All of these different origins of collagen will work in the same way and will help produce more collagen in the body, so it’s really about personal choice.
There is no vegan equivalent. You can, however, increase your own production of collagen, by ensuring you have adequate levels of certain minerals such as zinc, silica, manganese and vitamin C. These nutrients are good to have along side a collagen supplement for added support.
The benefits of taking a collagen supplement include:
- Accelerated wound healing;
- In particular helping with osteoarthritis and other joint conditions;
- An anti-inflammatory;
- Improving skin health with anti-aging effects. Collagen creams can also be applied externally to the skin; and
- Improving digestive function, not just by helping heal the gut lining and reducing inflammation, but can also influence our gut microbiome.
Collagen products are often called “peptides” and “hydrolysed”. These both mean that the collagen structure is smaller for better digestion and absorption.
Before you go and ditch your protein powders in favour of collagen, be mindful that it only contains 3 of the 21 essential amino acids, in particular lacking tryptophan (essential for mood/sleep) and therefore is not a complete protein to fulfill all our protein requirement needs. If you are eating adequate amounts of protein from the diet, then supplemental collagen is fine to have on its own without an added protein supplement.