collagen guide 101 | EXCERPT FROM THE COLLAGEN GLOW, OUR FOUNDER'S BOOK

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So for those of you who don't know, I am currently writing a book titled The Collagen GlowIn it, I will help you navigate how to pick out which collagen to use, evaluate what is best for your situation, and answer a lot of the questions people have been asking me recently about what collagen is and how it benefits us.

 

COLLAGEN GUIDE 101 & Q&A

It can be confusing to decipher what collagen is, when there are so many different terms to describe it and consume it: collagen peptides, hydrolyzed collagen, gelatin collagen, collagen type I, type II, type III-- list goes on. And then there are all of the different sources: cows, fish? What about pills, liquid or powder?

What is Collagen?

Mainstream usage of collagen has been mostly topical, which leads for people to mistakenly believe it to be only something you apply on to our skin (and in some cases, inject with a needle to plump the skin).

Collagen is a natural protein that our bodies produce. It is a major structural component of the human body (different types of collagen make up our skin, bones, muscles, joints), and we depend on collagen to keep our skin plump, hair strong, bones healthy, oints lubricated, and digestive system working smoothly.

And though our bodies are able to produce ample amounts of collagen when we are young, unfortunately, sometime after the age of 25, our bodily production of collagen begins to decline at a rate of 1.5% per year (in addition to the decline in the quality of our produced collagen). By our mid 40's, our collagen levels may have fallen by as much as 30%. Without collagen, our cells lose structure, increasingly becoming weaker, stretchier, and thinner-- and essentially, this decline, is the true cause of many of our skin woes like wrinkles, fine lines, dark circles, dry skin, and cellulite.

But don’t worry, you can make up for the collagen you lose by consuming collagen, the foundation of healthy skin.


Types of Collagens

As mentioned before, collagen occurs in many places throughout the body, making up a huge 90% of the bone mass and 30% of all proteins produced. There are various types of collagen (at least sixteen), each type being found in different areas of the body: the skin, connective tissues, lungs, muscles, joints, blood cells, arteries, and more.


The five most common types are:

Collagen Type I

  • Found in skin, tendons, ligaments, and our heart
  • crucial for healing wounds and holding together our muscles and bones, in addition to making our tissue strong so it doesn’t tear.

Collagen Type II

  • Found in cartilage and connective tissues
  • Because our joints rely on well-lubricated cartilage, collagen is integral in optimizing our joint health.

Collagen Type III

  • Found in our organs such as the heart and skin (alongside type I).
  • The reticulate (main component of reticular fibers), helps give skin and our tissue their elasticity and firmness.

Collagen Type IV

  • Integral in lining our digestive and respiratory organs

Collagen Type V

  • Supports new formation hair and placentas

Collagen Type X

  • Important in forming new bones

If this sounds confusing, think about it this way. If you divide your body into sixteen different quadrants, there would be some type of collagen in every single quadrant, and there are multiple types of collagen in varying quadrants. Type I and Type III collagen would be in every quadrant, because your skin covers your entire body-- and hence are considered to be the most abundant types of collagen.


What kind of benefits will I see?

First and foremost, daily consumption of collagen, which now you know is found in almost every part of your body, will dramatically improve your skin.

In just 4-8 weeks, thousands of surveyed respondents from hundreds of studies have all noted improvements in their skin, and reported plumed, firmer and more supple skin-- in addition to notable restoration of elastin. (see Appendix 1).

Still, though I emphasize the benefits of collagen on skin for the most of this book, when you ingest collagen, the benefits spread to the rest of your body, head to toe.

But before I get into these benefits, I’d like to talk about the make up of collagen-- the reason why collagen is so beneficial to us.


Amino Acids

Some of the most confusing bits of the science behind collagen have to do with amino acids.  

Amino acids are crucial building blocks of our bodies. A large proportion of our cells, muscles and tissue is made up of amino acids, and they carry out many important bodily functions, such as giving cells their structure. We depend on amino acids-- they are at the basis of all life processes, and insufficiency can lead to negative impacts on our skin, hair, bones, and health, (arthritis and osteoporosis, cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, hair loss, poor sleep, mood and performance, and even virility).


There are twenty different amino acids found in the human bodies. These can be grouped into three different categories-- essential, semi-essential, and non-essential (note: grouping ‘essential’ and ‘non-essential’ is not to indicate one is less essential for our health than the other-- it just means that the body can create the amino acids on their own or not).


Essential Amino Acids (8 total)

  • isoleucine
  • leucine
  • lysine
  • methionine:
  • phenylalanine
  • threonine,
  • tryptophan
  • valine
  • our body cannot produce on their own, so we must ingest them externally

Semi-Essential Amino Acids (2 total)

  • arginine and histidine
  • our body cannot produce on their own, so we must ingest them externally

Non-Essential Amino Acids (10 total)

  • alanine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamine, glutamic acid, glycine, proline, serin and tyrosine.
  • our body can produce these amino acids.

This is where collagen comes in.

Collagen, as a complex protein, contains EIGHTEEN out of the twenty existing amino acids found in our bodies. And these eighteen amino acids, when ingested, support all of the different various functions of our body in different ways: our skin, hair, brain, bones, teeth, nails, heart, digestion, muscles, weight, mood, virility and even sleep.

Collagen Benefits

  1. Skin

  2. Hair

  3. Brain Health and Functions: Anxiety and Sleep

  4. Bones and teeth

  5. Nails

  6. Heart Health

  7. Digestion

  8. Muscle tissues, ligaments, tendons

  9. Metabolism and weight loss

  10. Detoxing & Improving Liver Health

  11. Mood & Anxiety

  12. Virility

  13. Diet


  1. Skin
    1. Essentially, what collagen is doing for the skin is restoring what it needs most of at its cellular level to rebuild the eroding dermal matrix of your skin: AKA, rebuilding the cells’ “walls.” As we age, these walls become weaker-- caused by many things, but our declining supply of collagen being a huge component of it. By ingesting collagen, our cells are able to build stronger walls, and with stronger walls, our cells are able to keep the moisture in better. So ultimately, with more collagen, your skin will be able to keep its moisture levels high-- which will then in effect keep your skin hydrated and taut.
    2. Ultimately, these will lead to positive benefits on the skin such as :
      1. Diminished under eye bags and dark circles
      2. Diminished size of pores 

      3. Diminished look of wrinkles
      4. Diminished look of cellulite
      5. Diminished look of scars

      6. More Brightened Skin
      7. More hydrated skin
    3. If you’re wondering how we could quantify these impacts-- some of the most interesting studies I’ve seen include using machines to measure the length of the shadows forecast by wrinkles pre-study and post-study, in addition to pinching the skin and seeing how much your skin can be pulled on day one versus day thirty.
  2. Hair
    1. Additional ingestion of the amino acids arginine, glutamine and methionine in collagen is clinically proven to strengthen the hair structure and nails, in addition to preventing hair loss (See Appendix).
  3. Brain Health and Functions: Mood, Anxiety and Sleep
    1. The glycine in collagen acts as neurotransmitter with properties relax the body, leading to decrease in stress, anxiety, depression and insomnia.
  4. Joints
    1. “As part of collagen found within joints, it buffers our bodies from the effects of vibration or shock and helps us hold on to valuable cartilage as we get older. (12)  It’s also linked with the prevention of arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) since it helps our arteries stay clear of dangerous plaque buildup.”
  5. Bones and teeth
  6. Nails
  7. Heart Health
    1. “The amino acid proline helps your artery walls release fat buildup in the bloodstream, shrinking the fat in the arteries and minimizing fat accumulation. Proline is needed for tissue repair within the joints and arteries, plus it helps control blood pressure. In addition, arginine helps with nitric oxide production, which allows for better vasodilation — meaning the widening of arteries and relaxation of muscle cells and blood vessels that allows for better circulation.
  8. Digestion
    1. The protein smooths the gut similarly to how it smooths the skin, which can improve digestion.
    2. If you suffer from leaky gut syndrome, a condition where bad-for-you toxins are able to pass through your digestive tract, collagen can be super-helpful. It helps break down proteins and soothes your gut’s lining, healing damaged cell walls and infusing it with healing amino acids.
    3. The biggest digestive benefit of consuming more collagen is that it helps form connective tissue and therefore “seals and heals” the protective lining of the gastrointestinal tract. Today, we know that many illnesses can actually be traced back to inflammation or irritation stemming from an unhealthy gut. Poor gut health — including changes in the gut microbiomeand permeability in the gut lining — allows particles to pass into the bloodstream where they can kick off an inflammatory cascade (hence the name leaky gut syndrome).
    4. Studies have found that in patients with inflammatory bowel disease, serum concentrations of collagen are decreased. (7) Because the amino acids in collagen build the tissue that lines the colon and GI tract, supplementing with collagen can help treat gastrointestinal symptoms and disorders, including leaky gut syndrome, IBS, acid reflux, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. In addition to helping heal leaky gut, collagen also helps with the absorption of water within the intestines, keeping things moving more freely out of body.
  9. Muscle tissues, ligaments, tendons
    1. Collagen is strong (fun fact: a gram of collagen is stronger than a gram of steel!)
    2. One of glycine’s most important roles is helping form muscle tissue by converting glucose into energy that feeds muscle cells. And remember that retaining muscle mass is crucial as you age, since it helps support posture, bone health and burns more calories than fat. When consuming collagen, you can benefit from also consuming vitamin C to ensure your body can convert the collagen into a useable protein. This can begin to restore the source or your energy and vitality.
  10. Metabolism and weight loss
    1. A boost in collagen may help increase your metabolism by adding lean muscle mass to your frame and helping with the conversion of essential nutrients.
    2. The purified, high-protein content of Hydrolysed Collagen is known to be an effective, natural appetite suppressant, in which many clinical studies have proven the satiating effect to promote weight loss (1,2).
  11. Detoxing & Improving Liver Health

    1. If you’re looking to detox your body of harmful substances, improve blood flow and keep your heart young, collagen is extremely helpful. That’s because glycine helps minimize damage your liver experiences when it absorbs foreign substances, toxins or alcohol that shouldn’t be passing through it. One of the easiest ways to cleanse your liver is with a bone broth fast. I often recommend a three-day bone broth detox to rapidly repair leaky gut. This may help your body rid itself of chemicals and “reset” your gut, improving overall immune function. Studies have even found that glycine can be used to help reduce alcohol-induced liver damage and other forms of acute or chronic liver injury. (11)
  12. Virility
  13. Diet
    1. This is some of my most interesting discovery about collagen; and though it’s not extensively studied and it’s more anecdotal, I have found that ingesting collagen is the best way to consume protein. A lot of my vegan friends who have not had animal product in years were scared to take collagen-- but because they weren’t able to taste it, and feared the negative implications of not having enough collagen in their diets, started taking Crushed Tonic. All of them reported back with surprise as they didn’t feel any side effects (they were all incredibly sure that they would); and it made me curious, so I did some research and found out why:
    2. The American diet strips animal protein from its skin; when the two were designed to be eaten together. When we eat muscle meats from animals or fish without the other parts of the animal or fish, our diet is higher in the amino acid methionine and low in glycine. You may have heard in the past that a high meat or animal protein diet can shave off years from a person’s lifespan. Eating those other types of collagen - the bones, tendons, skin and other connective tissue parts of an animal or fish –  may be the missing link in the research about why a high meat diet causes earlier death (on the other hand, researchers have found that a low methionine diet is what creates a longer lifespan by 30-40% and a high methionine diet is linked to a shorter lifespan). This is how our ancestors consumed animal: cavemen weren’t skimming the animal meat from the skin. And consuming those extra parts of the animal, which are loaded with glycine, would would result in a more efficient methionine clearance, reducing methionine toxicity, and thus making your body less inflamed.

All these amino acids that make up collagen are incredibly beneficial for supporting the human body’s overall health and well-being.


So how can we consume collagen?

For us to consume collagen, we must look to high-protein parts of animals.

You’re probably thinking-- “Oh! I eat chicken everyday-- I’m fine.”

But here’s the catch. Collagen is not in the salmon fillet or a piece of chicken breast-- but in their skin, joints, bones and muscle tissue.


What if I don’t want to be eating animals bones, or skin?

Americans do not generally eat these parts of animals (and now you’re thinking-- other countries eat these parts? And the answer is yes-- chicken feet are a delicacy in the Korean cuisine).

The closest Americans get to eating collagen in their natural states is bone broth-- which could be made by simmering bones (or backs, necks and feet) for more than twelve hours until a rich and almost sticky broth is produced.

 

I keep hearing about collagen gelatin. How is it different from collagen peptides?

Gelatin is usually in a brittle, flat almost paper-y form, and when mixed with water, turns more into a gel, while collagen peptides are like protein powder and turns into liquid without much texture.

Gelatin and collagen peptides have the same amino acid profile (18 amino acids, which 8 of them are considered to be essential amino acids), and identical source (skin, bones, tissue). These short chain peptides are easier for your body to digest and absorb, which means the amino acids in the hydrolysed collagen may be more bioavailable and therefore more effective.

The only difference is that gelatin only goes through partial hydrolysis, while collagen peptides go through a more aggressive one; therefore two will boast different chemical properties (gelatin a long chain and peptides a shorter one). Gelatin is often used in recipes as thickeners-- it is what gives food a lot of its creamy texture (while collagen peptides, when dissolved perfectly, does not change the consistency by adding any additional texture).

Bone broth, essentially, is cooked collagen.

And all of the “benefits” that bone broth boasts of, are simply benefits derived from the collagen. And these benefits come from ingesting amino acids in the collagen.


So do I have to make bone broth everyday to get my collagen?

Not at all.

We don’t need to turn to the onerous labor of cooking bone broth to get our collagen.

Personally, I’m not the biggest proponent of daily consumption of bone broth anyway: it’s not always promised that there are enough collagen in the serving you are having, and if you are cooking the bone broth with lots of salts and seasonings, it will probably be incredibly high in sodium.

For those of us who want to avoid such, don’t have time to be cooking cauldrons of bone broth daily, or have zero desire to munch on ten grams of raw fish skin or bones, no need to worry: there are collagen peptides.


What are collagen peptides?

Due to its size, our body cannot utilize collagen in its native state (skin, bones or connective tissue of animals). Which is why collagen compounds must go through an intense process called hydrolysis, where these large food forms of collagen are cooked, boiled and then hydrolyzed.

Hydrolyzed collagen (also known as collagen peptides-- we will use these terms interchangeably throughout) boasts of more than a 90% absorption rate, 3 times higher than when source from food.

 

What is hydrolysis? Is it safe?

Hydrolysis is a fancy word to describe the process of breaking something down with water. So in this case, the large collagen compounds, will get broken down with water and enzymes into small and short chains of amino acids so that our body can actually absorb.

 

How can I take hydrolyzed collagen peptides?

Collagen peptides are offered in a variety of forms: collagen pills vs liquid vs powder.


Liquid Collagen

A ready-to-consume product that comes in an 8 to 32 ounce bottle. Its collagen is in a base of water and often includes flavors to make it tastier, and you will have to consume it by having 6-10 drops of it daily. The liquid collagen will save you time mixing collagen powders yourself.


Collagen Powder

Collagen peptides in their most raw form are originally fine powder. Collagen powder is loose powder that is usually mixed with water (which then, the collagen powder turns into a liquid collagen).The key to assessing collagen powder is through its taste, purity, and color. Not all collagen powder is created equal, and to find a high-quality collagen powder type you can take every day, you should try a few different ones and see what you like best—meaning both in taste and in ease of use.

 

Collagen Tablets

Generally one capsule or tablet provides one gram collagen (equal to 1000 mg). To get the daily serving of 6-10 grams daily, you will need to take 10 capsules/tablets daily.

 

Collagen Candies, Gummies and Chocolates

There are candy alternatives for collagen-- however, they are usually made with high fructose corn syrup or other artificial sweeteners. Collagen gummy bears are often made with gelatin.

I went with powders over tablets, capsules, gummies, and liquids as I hate the feeling and experience of swallowing pills (and to swallow ten? No thank you!) But whether it be in liquid, powder, capsule or candy form, its essence is all the same: collagen peptides. It starts off as powder, which is then added to water to become liquid collagen (which is by far the most beneficial for the body as it is absorbed most efficiently), or divided into capsule pills.


However you consume it, the most important aspect is to ensure that you are taking it daily, and at least for 4 weeks straight, for best results.

 

Where are Collagen Peptides sourced from?

Marine aka fish collagen

  • Sourced from fish skin and scales
  • Rich in Type I collagen
  • Rich in glycine, proline and hydroxyproline

Bovine aka cow collagen

  • Sourced from cow hides, bones and muscles
  • Rich in type I and type III collagen
  • Rich in glycine and proline
  • Helps produce creatine, which is beneficial for building muscle

Aviary aka chicken collagen

  • sourced from chicken bones, cartilage and tissues
  • contains type II collagen

Porcine aka pig collagen

  • Sourced from pig skin

Vegetarian collagen

  • Sourced from egg shells and egg whites
  • Rich in type I, but also includes type II, IV and X.

Marine collagen and bovine collagen both perform well in studies and get similar results, primarily because both are bioavailable and dissolve great in liquids.


For vegetarians who consume eggs, all of the above, and turn to eggs: egg whites are high in both lysine and proline, so adding more egg whites into your diet could help support your body's natural production of collagen. Collagen-like proteins have been found in the egg shell membranes of the hen, as well. Vegetarian collagen comes from chicken egg whites and eggshells, which offes Type I and Type V collagen (Type V is found in relatively minimal amounts, in hair and placenta mostly, so it’s not one you need to focus on, but doesn’t hurt to consume if you prefer vegetarian powders).


There is no direct source of consumable collagen for vegans, as collagen is an inherently animal product. While there are vegan collagen sold, it isn’t made from any animal sources or fish sources. Instead, it’s made from plants that are good for the skin. Many of the ones on the market will include extra vitamins and minerals. The downside is that they may also contain sugars, dextrose compounds, and even preservatives or fillers.

Vegans (and even those who are able to take collagen), there’s still various other ways to help ourbody’s collagen levels flourish: by eating foods that help stimulate the body’s production of the vital protein, in addition to turning to foods packed with hyaluronic acid, a naturally-occurring acid found in the human body that acts as a lubrication agent for our hair and skin. Hyaluronic acid boasts of similar properties as animal collagen, and plays a critical role in skin health, with its remarkable ability to bind to 1000 times its weight in moisture. My favorite source of hyaluronic acid is seaweed: Koreans have roasted seaweed at almost every meal and I believe it to be a powerful superfood. Other hyaluronic acid and collagen-production-stimulating foods include green vegetables for vitamin C, red vegetables for lycopene like tomatoes, mushrooms, and nuts.

I suggest trying each type available and seeing which one your body tells you it feels strongest on. Listen to your body and see which one is the easiest on your stomach.


Does it matter what types of collagen or which animal collagen source it comes from?

As I explained previously, there are different types of collagens in our bodies. And though some research suggests that consuming the different types will benefit the different, respective parts of the bodies, (for example, consuming Type 1 and 3 if we want better hair, skin and nails, or Type 2 for cartilage and joints), most collagen experts and doctors don’t see the necessity in consuming specific types. According to Dr. Bitz, consuming collagen helps us produce more collagen in our own bodies, more than supplying our body to be directly used: “When you ingest collagen, you are ingesting amino acids that help rebuild all of your own collagen in the body. Not just Type 1 or 3, but every type,” Dr. Bitz explains.”

 

Because we primarily arrive at our collagen benefits through the amino acids delivered by the collagen-- (again, collagen is way too big to be absorbed on its own; so when ingested, our body breaks it down into amino acids which are then absorbed, transported to cells, and used to make new collagen proteins suited for our bodies.

 

While many different types of collagen do exist—differentiated by where in the body it’s sourced and its amino acid structure, and there can be benefits that arise from ingesting heavier concentrations of certain amino acids in those different types of collagen, most collagen boast of a similar amino acid profile, and Dr. Bitz explains, they’re all still the same protein. “

 

I’m sold on the benefits. But is collagen safe? What about side effects?

Technically, collagen is really just like any other protein you are consuming on your plate-- something you’ve been eating here and there all your life (yet probably had no idea).

Many doctors even recommend collagen intake-- collagen is used widely by people with arthritis and bone diseases, and of course, dermatologists. Dr. Tess Mauricio, a celebrity dermatologist who has made multiple appearances on Dr. Oz, stated that she routinely recommends oral collagen to her patients as it is one of the few scientifically proven anti-aging breakthroughs that people can take to help fight wrinkles, sagging and skin deterioration and to reverse certain signs of the aging process of the skin.  

And even if the powder may seem like a foreign concept-- it’s been around for decades, and has been used in Asian and European countries for quite some time.

Still, like everything we put in to our bodies, we must know where exactly what we put into our bodies, has originated from, and how it was processed-- so if the collagen brand cannot trace back every step of the way back to when the collagen was in its original form-- then I’d stray far from that brand. Like many protein powders today on the market today, collagen powder can contain things that are toxic for the body-- metals, pollutants, contaminants, and more. Luckily, the standards for making collagen powder have been raised pretty significantly in the last few years, and with the help of internet, we could quickly find out what goes in the collagen we are ingesting. Properly processed collagen would have been first sourced from non-gmo fish, cow, chicken, or pork, then purified, then hydrolyzed in an enzymatic solution, then filtered, then milled into powder, which is then again sterilized and then spray-dryed.

People should know where their collagen comes from (just as you should know where your salmon or steak came from). For example, if it’s marine collagen, is it from fish from clean waters or waters contaminated with heavy metals or radiation? Is it from fish that are generally higher in mercury? If it’s bovine or aviary, then is the source from grass-fed beef, naturally-raised chickens, or other farm animals sustainably raised in every possible good manner? Or is it from commercially-raised cattle, poultry, etc.?

High quality collagen, in essence, is the king of all protein powders-- because hydrolyzed collagen is only treated with only water, unlike many protein powders on the market, it contains no fillers, hormones, acids and is not produced with any forms of harsh processing that may affect the normal functioning of your body (really, there should be nothing else in the powder; high quality marine collagen powder makeup, to get even more specific, is about 95% fish skin, 3% water, and 2% minerals).

And in addition to being the most premium and clean, it is the most bioavailable, which means your body is able to absorb the nutrients from the hydrolyzed collagen without reacting to it negatively, and therefore is anti-inflammatory. So ultimately, hydrolyzed collagen should cause virtually zero side effects.

I can only speak for it personally, but I have been taking and recommending collagen to my friends and family for years, and none have ever reported any side effects-- even my vegan friends who haven’t consumed animal product for years don’t react to the collagen because the protein peptides are so bioavailable.

Having said that, collagen in bigger forms, such as gelatin or in their natural states, could be too big for our bodies cannot break down, which then could cause digestive problems such as gas and bloating-- which is why I’d recommend always turning to collagen peptides over anything else.

 

How do I know that my collagen is of high quality?

To test out the quality of your collagen powder, simply pour a little bit of lukewarm water into a glass or a cup, put a scoop of collagen into it, and mix it until the powder begins to dissolve perfectly.


With high quality, pure collagen, you will see that the color of the water will stay translucent. In an interview with Well and Good, Naomi Whittel, a supplements entrepreneur who has been studying collagen for the past 20 years, advises “to steer clear of anything yellow, brown, or another tinted color—that’s one way to spot less-than-premium quality. If you’re buying a collagen in powder form, Whittel says it should be colorless (when mixed with water) and tasteless. This shows how pure it is.”


And of course, we must always pay attention to the label, and check the origin of the collagen-- according to Dr. Bitz, country origins matters: “collagen sourced from China is really cheap and just not up to the standards of higher quality stuff,” he says. And because supplements are actually unable to be regulated by the FDA, brands should make sure to turn to quality manufacturers and suppliers that sourced only the most premium, high quality ingredients (and they should be able to trace every step of the way back to where their collagen comes from).

Tip: Read reviews, and make sure you test a few before really ritualizing one brand.


How about for pregnant women?

And if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, always ask your doctor first; though collagen is often recommended for pregnant women, it is always better to be safe, and to make sure that it will not interfere with any other medication (although it really is just protein powder and it shouldn’t).

It's especially beneficial for women after giving birth!

 

How much is the right amount?

This will always be up for a debate.


According to Dr. Buchanan, MD, consuming a minimum of 8 grams of hydrolyzed collagen per day to increase the levels of glycine and proline circulating in your bloodstream. However, she suggests increasing dosage to 15 to 30 grams per day if:

  • Your skin, hair, and nails could use a boost
  • You’re an athlete or exercise regularly
  • You have joint pain
  • You’re having trouble losing weight
  • You have digestive symptoms or disease

If you are a man who is over six foot tall and working out everyday, twenty grams should be sufficient. If you are like me, at 5’7,’’ 110 pounds, ten grams will do the trick.


Most powders come with a scoop that’s about 10 grams, some recommend one scoop, some two scoops. Then there are the powders that come pre-measured, in handy packets (perhaps beautifully-designed, like Crushed Tonic!). These are typically 10 grams.


When should you take collagen?


The best time to take collagen is in the morning, when there’s nothing in your stomach. This could be in the morning when you first wake up, before bed, or a few hours after eating a meal. It’s important to bypass the digestive process when taking collagen supplements. You want the collagen to be in your bloodstream in its present form, not digested by stomach acid and mixed in with your food for breakdown during digestion.

 

What other ingredients should I take with collagen?
Vitamin C

According to the Linus Pauling Institute researchers at Oregon State University, vitamin C has a distinct role in collagen synthesis: without vitamin C, our body is slower in healing wounds and producing collagen. Thus, it makes sense to have some vitamin C added to your collagen supplement. I also like to have a clementine or an orange in the morning to spike up my collagen production.

 

Probiotics

Probiotics are one of the latest ingredients to collagen supplements. Probiotics are known to do a lot – and improving your skin is one of them. Scientists at the University of Lyon in France reported in 2009 that probiotics can alleviate allergic and inflammatory skin disorders by increasing our immune health.


Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid is a known substance that improves skin hydration. HA is shown to have a durable effect to retain moisture in the skin from inside the body. In a month-long study, surveyed individuals who added hyaluronic acid to their diet showed significant reductions in skin dryness, wrinkles, and improvements in skin moisture and fullness.

 

Superfoods

There are often superfoods that are added to collagen powders to add flavoring and other health benefits. I’ve selected matcha, turmeric and lucuma as the superfood flavorings to my formula-- because matcha induces a sense of calm while simultaneously boosting your energy, concentration, memory and metabolism, it can keep you full and awake for hours. According to Dr. Bitz, “one thing everyone can do is consume more green tea,” he says. “It’s known to help stimulate production and prevent its breakdown. There is already collagen in your body doing amazing work. The key is to keep it stimulated so it can continue doing its job.”

 

What should I not take with collagen?

The main rule of what not to take with collagen is foods that are eaten in a meal.

Anything that requires digestion is a no-no because it will interfere with the absorption of collagen into the bloodstream (also see charcoal).

I also recommend foregoing blends with added sugars as well as other preservatives and chemical additives-- a lot of brands, in order to mask the taste, have formulated with artificial flavors-- which indeed defeat the whole purpose!

 

I get that the powder is easier but wouldn’t it be better for me to get the collagen from whole foods?

We already covered the basics of why collagen from whole foods is too big for our body to absorb, so I’ll answer this question from another angle.

Often, when we prepare some of these collagen-rich foods (of course, every meal prep is different), we usually cook them with a lot of things that aren’t quite so great for you, such as salt, and then packed with preservatives that are often carcinogenic (i.e. fried fish, chicken wings). And when one consumes fish skin, which is where we source collagen from primarily, it is usually deep fried, or again, drenched in sodium.

Hence, we can’t advise you to eat ten whole grams of fish skin too often, let alone every day (and the daily aspect can’t be emphasized more, as our bodies cannot store protein for longer than 24 hours).

 

Are some powders for hot, some for cold?

Collagen is able to withstand hot temperatures, so you are able to put it into hot drinks, as well as bake with it. I recommend checking which ingredients the collagen is mixed with, however (i.e. only certain probiotic strands can last despite hot environments), to ensure that you don’t kill off the benefits of the other supplements and vitamins the collagen peptides are accompanied by.



 

While founding Crushed Tonic, I made a conscious choice to use only marine collagen, despite bovine collagen being much cheaper and more prevalent— and so should you. Not only is fish collagen free of slaughter-house diseases, more sustainably sourced (as marine collagen comes from "unwanted" parts of the fish that would have been thrown away otherwise), and best tasting, it is also the most effective. Because marine collagen is the smallest type and the most bioavailable type of collagen, therefore the best absorbed by our body. This means that our body is able to actually break down and circulate the necessary amino acids used in collagen fibril synthesis and other connective tissues (aka for best skin ever) effectively, and quickly.

In one study in Japan that compared the various collagen peptides (bovine versus porcine versus marine) to each other and measured how the subjects’ bodies responded to it, marine collagen came out as the winner.

There is also some debate between farm fished and wild. Many breeds of wild fish now contain high levels of mercury and other toxic metals, while Crushed Tonic’s collagen was tested to be less than 0.01 PPM. And all of our tilapia collagen goes through a validated and safe process (sterilization and pasteurization, filtration, UF, and demineralization), something that many collagen companies cannot stand behind. Crushed Tonic’s collagen is also irradiated and is contaminants free, carbohydrate free, cholesterol free, and preservative free.



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