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What Is Collagen and Should You Be Taking It? [Guide for 2022]

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What is Collagen & What Does it Do?

Collagen is protein. In fact, collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, making up 30% of the body’s proteins. Its responsibility is to literally hold everything together and is found in the bones, muscles, tendons, skin, hair, and nails. It provides structural support and elasticity and is vital for cell renewal, cartilage, and bones.

So, why do we care about it so much? In layman’s terms? It’ll keep you looking young on the outside, and feeling young on the inside. We like the sound of that! Collagen is the key to smooth, young-looking skin and healthy joints.

How Many Types of Collagen Are There?

You may not have known this, but there are 3 types of collagen: Types 1, 2, and 3. A lot of people ask us, “Which types do you take together? Can you take all 3 at the same time? What does each type do?” Great questions!

Types 1, 2 & 3 

According to Vital Proteins, “all types of collagen will benefit your hair, skin, nails, bones, and joints, primarily because all collagen types are made up of beneficial amino acids.” However, you’ll typically see types 1 + 3 packaged together in one bottle, focusing on your skin, bones, hair, and nails. Types 1 and 3 make up 90% of the collagen in your body, can minimize wrinkles, improve skin elasticity, support bones, correct damaged nail beds, thicken fine hair and improve your body’s circulation. Typically, when you see supplements, what you’ll see is types 1+3.

Type 2 collagen, on the other hand, supports your joint/cartilage health and function. Type 2 benefits the fluids and functions in your cartilage and joints. It helps reduce popping knees and helps support your jaw, back, and joints. A lot of people don’t realize that joint pain, popping knees, and weakened cartilage is a result of lacking type 2 collagen, and assume it is an unavoidable part of the aging process. Well, it isn’t, and you can fight back with a Type 2 collagen supplement!

What Causes Collagen Production To Slow Down?

Even though it is naturally occurring in the human body, it’s essential to supplement it as we age because collagen production slows down significantly as we get older. Actually, after age 30, collagen production begins to significantly decline. By age 45, collagen production decreases 25%, and by age 60 it decreases by more than 50%.  As our body’s collagen production slows down, we begin to notice saggy, aging skin, fine lines, wrinkles and weakened joint cartilage.

Aging is the #1 cause of diminished collagen production. Even though you can’t stop the aging process altogether, there ARE things that damage your level of collagen production that you’re totally able to control! Avoiding the following things will keep your collagen production levels higher:

Smoking
Eating too much sugar
Overexposure to sunlight (say NO to the tanning bed!).
Stress
Poor Diet
Poor gut health

Can I Boost My Collagen Production?

Yes, there IS a bright side! You can stimulate your body’s natural collagen production to help keep these aging side effects at bay. There are nutritional, procedural, and supplemental methods to promote collagen production.

Nutritional:

As we always say at Get Healthy U: Nutrition before supplements! There are certain nutrients (that you may not know much about yet) found in common, delicious foods that promote collagen production.

Proline (an amino acid found in meat, cheese, soy, cabbage, and eggs)
Copper (found in fish, red meat, nuts)
Vitamin A (found in meat and beta-carotenes like sweet potatoes)
Vitamin C (found in oranges, leafy greens, red and green veggies)
Anthocyanidins (found in berries, cherries)

Procedural:

There are also external things you can do to control your collagen production! There are both procedures and products (typically prescribed by a dermatologist) that can help, too.

Laser Therapy- Laser treatments are a great, non-surgical way to stimulate collagen production and use laser and light energy to reduce the appearance of fine lines and skin elasticity.
Retinoic Acid (Vitamin A)- This member of the retinoid family helps kick cells into gear and promote cell production in the skin and stimulates both collagen and elastin production.
Skin Fillers- Collagen injections are a common cosmetic procedure that helps remove fine lines and wrinkles from the face and can help with scarring from acne.

Supplemental:

Drinks: For a long time, collagen drinks have existed and promised to make your skin, hair and nails look better than ever, but experts have doubted this claim because they thought it was unlikely that the body would actually absorb the collagen. Recently, however, the results have been considerably more promising. Many studies have cited women who consumed collagen drinks showed significant improvement in the thickness and elasticity of their skin!
Collagen Supplements: These supplements have been around forever. Now you don’t just see them in the aisles of specialty vitamin stores, but in your local drugstores! But do they work? There was a large study in early 2014 conducted by the University of Kiel’s Department of Dermatology that showed 65% of women having significantly elevated levels of collagen and reduction in wrinkles after 8 weeks of taking a collagen supplement.

What’s The Difference Between Collagen & Whey Protein?

It’s a question we get asked often and what is really comes down to is the difference between the amino acid profile. Take a look at the examples below (remembering that 1,000mg is the same as 1 gram).

So, looking at Vital Proteins Collagen, you can see that it contains a high value of glutamic acid (2.2 grams), hydroxyproline (2 grams), and proline (2 grams). These particular amino acids primarily benefit your hair, skin, and nails.

On the flip side, BiPro Whey Protein contains a high value of isoleucine (1.1 grams), leucine (2.5 grams), and valine (1.1 grams) which are really good for muscle recovery.

Collagen, also, contains only has 8 out of the 9 essential amino acids whereas whey has all the essential amino acids

Thus, you can see that they both have incredible benefits, they just focus on slightly different objectives. And yes, you can take both on the same day! If you are still curious about all the differences between collagen and whey protein, check out the video below.

You might be wondering what to do if you are vegan or follow a plant-based diet. Is there vegan collagen? While true vegan collagen doesn’t exist, there are many plants with collagen-boosting superpowers. Though collagen by its nature is animal-based, t there are many collagen-like options for vegans and those following a plant-based lifestyle.

Plants have the amazing ability to amplify our body’s own natural collagen production, which is why we always advocate eating your fruits and veggies daily. Plants, herbs, flowers, and even algae have the ingredients to improve your natural production of collagen, improve your hair and skin, and even nourish your connective tissues.

Plant-Based and Vegan Collagen Supplements

It’s always best to try to boost your collagen naturally through whole foods. Some of the most effective plant-based collagen boosting herbs and foods are:

Guavas
Cantaloupe
Berries
Broccoli
Kale 
Kiwi
Brussels Sprouts
Bell peppers

There are so many supplements on the market, it can be completely overwhelming. The most important thing to look for when choosing a vegan collagen supplement or powder is plant-based ingredients that promote collagen production. These are some vegan collagen boosters we recommend.

Collagen Gummies

Collagen gummies are all the rage these days and for good reason. It’s an easy and tasty way to get your collagen in! These fruit punch flavored soft chews give you collagen types 1 & 3 to give you all the benefits of collagen, plus hyaluronic acid and vitamin C to hydrate and boost the skin.

Vitamin C Collagen Supplements

Vitamin C is a powerhouse of anti-aging benefits and has been shown to encourage collagen production. So when seeking vegan collagen options, look for Vitamin C as a dominant ingredient.

Purity Products Vegan Collagen Builder

Vegan Collagen Powder

Having your collagen in powder form is convenient and has its benefits. This vegan powder is a great source of Vitamin C, bamboo extract, and other plant collagen boosters.

Rae Vegan Collagen Boost

Collagen Myths:

1. Lotions & Creams With Collagen Help Wrinkles

Do these work? Unfortunately, probably not. Leading dermatologists say that it’s nearly impossible for the skin to absorb collagen topically and that any results seen from these products are likely because of their moisturizing qualities, not their ability to rebuild the collagen proteins in your skin. You’re better off consciously increasing your water intake and purchasing a great, all-natural moisturizer, and beginning a religious moisturizing routine!

2. You Cannot Restore Your Own Body’s Collagen

This is not true! Your body never stops producing collagen, but its production is decreased dramatically as we age. The production probably can’t be impacted by topical application of creams and lotions (though those may help to fill and fix fine lines and wrinkles), but rather can only be impacted by active ingredients (in foods and supplements).

3. Pills & Potions Don’t Work

We’re the first ones to say that pills and potions aren’t the best way to fix any problem. But this time, we think they’re worth your time. Studies have shown (and our own personal experiences!) that collagen supplements and a diet rich in nutrients that support collagen production DO benefit the health of your skin, nails, hair, joints, and bones!

Our Suggestions On Collagen:

Founder and CEO of Get Healthy U, Chris Freytag, is a daily collagen supplement-taker:

“In my mid 40’s my skin started changing and I had no idea what was going on.  My current skin care regime wouldn’t help.  I was getting white pustules and bumps on my skin.  I read about taking Collagen type 1 + 3 and thought – why not?  I started and literally my skin cleared over night.  I started with the recommended 6 pills a day and after 6 months went down to 3 pills a day .  I also take the Hylauronic acid with it – it’s an accelerator and has worked for me.  I take the Type 2 collagen for my joints also.” -Chris Freytag

Chris takes the NeoCell collagen supplement in pill form, but also loves their collagen in powder form! Some people find the pills a bit too big to take, so we suggest getting a pill cutteror scooping some of the powder into your morning smoothie! Chris also loves using Vital Proteins Collagen Powder in her smoothies as well.

Another tip from Chris is to get yourself some Hyaluronic Acid. Hyaluronic Acid is an accelerator and helps hasten the effects of any supplement you may be taking. Chris takes her NeoCell supplement alongside Hyaluronic Acid and has seen great results! Give it a try and let us know about your experience!

Below are the supplements Chris takes and highly recommends! First, a Collagen powder supplement, the Collagen Types 1 + 3 pill supplement, the Hylauronic Acid pill supplement and a Collagen Type 2 pill supplement!

             

Meet Your New Best Friend: Collagen Smoothies

Want an easy way to get your daily collagen? Add it to your morning smoothie! Try this matcha green smoothie with Vital Proteins Collagen Powder (or skip the matcha powder and just use Vital Proteins Matcha Collagen) or click the download below to get all our healthy smoothies recipes featuring collagen and other anti-aging ingredients. Note, for plant-based and vegan – we recommend substituting a vegan collagen-boosting powder.

Precepts: Center, Hamster & Intuit

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