Collagen, which is found in our muscles, tendons, bones, blood vessels, skin, and digestive systems is the most abundant protein in our bodies. 

Collagen has several benefits. It is necessary to keep our skins elastic and our joints, ligaments, and tendons strong. It quite literally is the glue that binds our bodies together, but as we age, we lose collagen.

Collagen benefits include:

  • It keeps our skin, hair, nails, and teeth healthy and strong
  • It reduces joint degeneration and pain
  • It’s helpful to repair a leaky gut
  • It increases muscle mass and boosts metabolism and energy output

Collagen is a complex protein that is made up of 19 amino acids. It is particularly rich in glutamine, arginine, glycine, and proline. People consuming a typical Western diet can be depleted in many of these amino acids. Vitamin C is also vital for the production of collagen.

There are several types of collagen, with the most prevalent in the body being types 1, 2, and 3,

Type 1 collagen accounts for almost 90% of the collagen found in the body. It is the strongest type and is made up of eosinophilic fibers that help for bone formation, wound healing, and skin elasticity and integrity.

Type 2 collagen primarily helps to build cartilage and is helpful for the prevention of age-associated joint pain and arthritis.

Type 3 collagen is made of reticular fibers and is a primary component of the extracellular matrix of our skin and organs. Along with type 1, type 3 helps to maintain skin elasticity and firmness. Because of its involvement in the integrity of the blood vessels and heart tissue, a deficiency can result in blood vessel ruptures.

Continual stress or living unhealthily can also prevent our bodies from producing amino acids which may make it necessary to use supplements.

When collagen is broken down it becomes gelatin. Bones contain a lot of collagen, and when boiled for a long time, like when we make bone broth, it becomes gelatin. Gelatin helps to repair the gut lining, can aid digestion, and reduce food allergies or intolerances.

The best sources of dietary collagen include:

Bovine collagen

Bovine collagen is sourced from the skin, bones, and muscles of cows. Bovine collagen contains mainly type 1 and 3 collagen, which are the most abundant types of collagens in the body and have the highest levels of glycine and proline. These are necessary for the production of creatine which is an important muscle builder.

Chicken Collagen

This collagen is predominantly type 2 collagen, which is beneficial for healthy joints. Type 2 collagen is a source of chondroitin and glucosamine sulfate which are necessary to reduce the effects of aging.

Fish collagen

Fish collagen provides predominantly type 1 collagen which is found throughout the body. It is beneficial for healthy blood vessels, skin, joints, and bones, as well as healthy digestion. The amino acid hydroxyproline is especially good for the prevention of joint degeneration.

Egg-shell membrane collagen

The shells and whites of the eggs are a good source of type 1 collagen. Apart from some of the other amino acids, it contains hyaluronic acid which is helpful for wound healing, building connective tissue and reducing joint pain and stiffness.

Collagen can be taken in supplemental form, but we can also increase our collagen consumption by consuming foods such as bone broth, that are rich in collagen.

Collagen powders can be added to smoothies, soups, and baked items. Some people even add collagen to their morning coffee.

A word of caution though, excessive collagen consumption can lower our serotonin levels. If you find yourself feeling more anxious or depressed after using collagen regularly, it could be that your serotonin levels have dropped. You can maintain the balance by eating serotonin rich foods or using a tryptophan supplement.

Listen to my interview with Brad Kirsten from Radio Cape Pulpit on 10 November 2022 to learn more. Listen to my next interview on Thursday at 7.45am