by Dr. Tina Marcantel

I first became interested in learning more about collagen supplementation when I discovered its benefits for weight control. Collagen is a protein and consuming protein helps to curb appetite cravings. When you combine that knowledge with the important health benefits collagen provides, it seems only natural that we would want to boost the amount of collagen in our bodies as we get older.

Quick facts about collagen

Roughly 30% of the protein in our bodies is collagen and it’s essential for maintaining bone, joint, skin, hair, and nail health. The amino acids contained in collagen also help build muscle mass and support an active lifestyle. While it is produced naturally in our bodies, the older we get, the less collagen production there is, which can lead to less mobility and increased joint pain, muscle loss, brittle nails, increased wrinkles and sagging skin, and digestive issues.

You can help your body make collagen naturally by eating a well-balanced diet full of healthy foods. A well-balanced diet includes chicken, beef, fish, dairy, eggs, beans, leafy greens, other vegetables, whole grains, and citrus fruits. You can also boost your intake of this important protein with a high-quality collagen supplement.

Potential benefits of collagen supplementation

  • Provides essential amino acids and proteins
  • Supports muscle health
  • Supports skin elasticity and skin health
  • Helps minimize the appearance of fine lines
  • Supports joint health
  • Supports hair thickness
  • Supports strong nails

What to look for in a collagen supplement

When looking for a collagen supplement that’s right for you, you’ll want to consider a few things. You can choose tasteless and odorless products that make them easy to add to other foods and beverages without altering the flavor. You’ll want to find a brand that has been third party lab tested for purity and potency to assure that it is a high-quality product. If possible, choose grass-fed pasture-raised bovine or sustainably sourced food collagen, which usually indicates “hormone free.” You’ll also want a supplement that contains a combination of collagen types (i.e., I, II, and III) to target hair, skin, joints and nails and mixes well in hot or cold beverages and foods. If the product is labeled as “hydrolyzed collagen peptides,” it means that the amino acids have been broken down for easier digestion and absorption.

I prefer using collagen powder because it gives food and beverages a creamy texture. I add it to such foods as

  • Hummus
  • Oatmeal
  • Coffee and tea
  • Cooked vegetables (add it to the liquid of cooked vegetables)
  • Smoothies
  • Soups
  • Salad dressings

Most studies see skin and joint benefits after taking collagen supplements for 3-4 months. Studies looking at bone health don’t see the benefits until after 12 months of use. Adding a collagen supplement to your diet is an easy way to help promote long-term health benefits.