Collagen Supplementation - What You Must Know
IF Insider No. 53
In our last issue (IF Insider No. 52) we examined the long-term effects of intermittent fasting, which we had been getting a lot of questions about from members of our Fast Factor Circle group. So if that’s a concern for you, then please take a look at that prior issue.
In this issue, we are going to take a look at collagen…what it is, what role it plays in your body, and most importantly, should you consider collagen supplementation.
For our premium subscribers, in this week’s Research Spotlight, we are going to look at an intriguing new study that reveals the reason meditation could eventually be prescribed as a treatment for Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
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Collagen Supplementation - Yes or No?
The most plentiful protein in your body is collagen. You can think of collagen as a sort of “glue” holding everything together through your connective tissues. Collagen proteins are also vital building blocks for healthy teeth, bones, muscles, joints, and skin.
Since collagen is a protein, it’s made up of the building blocks of protein which are amino acids. There are 20 different amino acids found in protein but collagen is especially rich in the amino acids proline, hydroxyproline, and glycine.
So far there have been twenty-eight types of collagen that have been identified, but in spite of all these different types, research shows that Types I, II, and III form the majority of the collagen found in your body and make up between 80 and 90% of the total. The structural support for your skin, ligaments, and muscles are provided by Types I and III. Type II is also important in the eyes as well as in cartilage.
As you age, your body starts making less collagen, and because it’s critical in helping to maintain the structure of the skin, this decline leads to fine lines as well as that dreaded sagging skin that is especially distressing for women when it appears on your upper arms and neck. And don’t think it’s just us old folks who are affected by declining collagen because a decline in collagen production starts when a woman is in her 20s!
There are ways to increase your collagen intake through diet, by eating pork, salmon, and chicken skin as well as increasing your consumption of non-muscle meats such as oxtail, knuckle, tendons, and tripe (which is, if you didn’t know, the lining from the stomachs of various farm animals, mostly from cattle, pig, and sheep) as well as consuming egg yolks and eggshell membranes and bone broth.
Most folks don’t eat too much (if any!) of most of these foods so it’s not surprising that you are likely not getting enough collagen in your diet. If that’s you, then you’ll want to consider a collagen supplement.
Studies have shown that the reduction in collagen synthesis due to aging can be reversed by oral administration of specific bioactive collagen peptides found in collagen supplements.
Keep in mind that if you are vegan or mostly plant-based, you may have seen so-called vegan collagen products. But collagen itself is an animal-derived product so these vegan products are not really collagen but are composed of precursors to help your body produce it.
There are foods that act as nutrient support for the body’s production of collagen, particularly foods high in nutrients like vitamin C, zinc, and copper to boost production, so foods such as beans, oranges, red and green peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, whole grains, and nuts. Some vegan collagen supplements are just mixtures of these nutrient helpers.
Other products are so-called vegan collagen that is actually made from genetically modified yeast and bacteria, specifically the bacteria P. pastoris. The four human genes that code for collagen are added, along with the digestive enzyme pepsin, and the yeast and bacteria produce actual collagen, not just the precursors but because it’s the yeast and bacteria that are producing the collagen, then it’s considered vegan.
Let’s get a closer look at bone broth, which is all the rage right now. According to bone broth proponents, bone broth is supposed to boost your immune system, build your bones, help your arthritis, and most importantly, it is supposed to be loaded with collagen that will help smooth your skin and help you look younger. Turns out that while bone broth can be a good source of protein, scientific research does not support most of those other claims.
Ok, but what about collagen content? Yes, it’s true that bone broth does contain collagen, but it’s not very absorbable. If you can’t digest it, then it won’t do you any good, no matter how much it contains. And there’s the taste. Whether made from beef or chicken bones, most of these broths have a distinct taste and smell. Definitely not something most people want to add to their morning coffee or smoothies!
Plus, there is always the risk of contamination. Many of these bone broth products are made from animal byproducts such as hoofs, tendons, and of course bones, which may harbor viruses. Some products have even been found to contain high concentrations of heavy metals which are toxic. Plus, many people do not like the idea of consuming cattle or chicken-derived products, as they have heard about the cruel and inhumane conditions under which these animals are raised.
A lot of people like collagen supplements as a way to strengthen their joints. Scientific studies show that people who took hydrolyzed collagen had a reduction in joint pain after they exercised and also experienced an increase in the actual density of their cartilage. Together, these effects served to make their joints more flexible. Other studies support collagen’s use in relieving sore knees and backs and point to the idea that collagen is important for bone strength.
And research also shows that it can make a real difference in the condition of your nails, helping them to grow faster and strengthen them, as well as your hair and the elasticity of your skin.
If you have been thinking about supplementing with collagen, you may have seen the terms collagen powder, hydrolyzed collagen, or collagen hydrolysate. These terms mean basically the same thing because they refer to hydrolysis. This is a process that the collagen is subjected to so as to break down the amino acids in the collagen. This process makes the collagen easier for your body to absorb.
Taking a collagen supplement enhances the body’s ability to produce collagen of the correct type. So your body will take what it needs from the collagen supplement and make Type I collagen for your skin, Type II for your cartilage, and Type III for use in the body’s organs.
That means your body will automatically produce Type 1 in your skin, Type 2 in your cartilage, and Type 3 in your organs. In other words, one collagen peptide supplement is the food for all of your cells that produce all the different collagens you need.
When I decided to add a collagen supplement to my diet, I went with marine collagen, specifically, the Deep Marine collagen company located in Canada. Deep Marine Collagen is sustainably made from wild-caught fish, harvested off the coast of Canada, not animal knuckles and tendons. They use only the skin and scales from North Atlanta cod, haddock, and pollock.
These fish “by-products” would normally be discarded by the fish processors, so they are upcycling what would normally go to waste. To see a further discussion of collagen sources, specifically bone broth vs. supplements, please see IF Insider No. 34.
Let’s look at marine collagen in terms of contamination concerns. Since marine collagen is derived from the skin and scales of fish, some people would immediately be concerned that this type of collagen might contain mercury, as many fish are contaminated with it. But mercury collects in the fat of fish, not the skin or scales, so marine collagen products are mercury-free.
Another benefit of using a collagen supplement derived from fish and scales is that marine sources of collagen provide a much smaller peptide size than collagen made from beef and pork sources. This much smaller molecular size makes the Deep Marine Collagen much more bioavailable, meaning you absorb it better so much more gets into your bloodstream, rather than being excreted.
Plus each batch of Deep Marine Collagen is tested by an independent third-party lab, and not only meets but exceeds all prescribed standards for heavy metals. It has no fillers and is 100% pure, hydrolyzed marine collagen.
I have used Deep Marine Collagen for a few months now, and the first thing that I have noticed is that my fingernails are definitely growing faster and they are stronger. I also think my skin seems less dry and a bit more elastic.
Of course, you can get whatever collagen supplement you like but if you are looking for a marine collagen product from a great company and one with which I have personal experience, then I would recommend you order from Deep Marine.
I reached out to them and got a 20% discount on a one-time order of their product if you want to try it out. They already give a substantial discount when you get on their subscription plan so our Fast Factor discount does not apply to that.
They have two different links to use, one if you are in the US and one if you are in Canada. The discount code FASTFACTOR20 is already embedded in the link when you click it so it should be automatically applied to your order.
Bolke L, Schlippe G, Gerß J, Voss W. A Collagen Supplement Improves Skin Hydration, Elasticity, Roughness, and Density: Results of a Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Blind Study. Nutrients. 2019;11(10):2494. Published 2019 Oct 17. doi:10.3390/nu11102494
de Miranda RB, Weimer P, Rossi RC. Effects of hydrolyzed collagen supplementation on skin aging: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Int J Dermatol. 2021;60(12):1449-1461. doi:10.1111/ijd.15518
Why It Matters
“I remember when I was starting out as a young actress, thinking, 'Oh my God, I have the fattest face.' Now I look at those pictures and I think, 'So much collagen!'
~ Anne Hathaway (b. 1982) - Anne Jacqueline Hathaway is an American actress and recipient of various awards, including an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, and a Primetime Emmy Award.
What We Are Reading 📚
With each issue, we bring you a short blurb on what we are currently reading or watching, including books, articles, podcasts, videos, movies, and research papers of value.
Denise - It’s a podcast episode for me this time. Ellen reminded me about an episode on Dr. Peter Attia’s The Drive podcast when he interviewed Dan Harris, author of 10% Happier, which I had recommended in an earlier IF Insider edition.
I’ve heard many interviews with Harris, but I hadn’t listened to this one. At 2 1/2 hours, it’s a commitment. And, worth every minute. The 2019 interview is a conversation between two high-achieving men about their demons and how meditation has served to help them manage the voices in their heads. It’s a raw and fascinating interview.
Ellen - I have always been intrigued with the idea of sacred landscapes, special places on the land where the veil between our waking reality and the unknown seems thin and even permeable. Recently, I was listening to a podcast called The Sheldrake Vernon Dialogues, which is, as the title suggests, a platform for deep conversations between Dr. Rupert Sheldrake and Mark Vernon. Rupert Sheldrake is a biologist and is best known for his hypothesis of morphic resonance. Mark Vernon is a psychotherapist and author.
In this particular episode, which first aired on May 10, 2019, they discussed the topic of Celtic Christianity and Nature, in particular, a book by Nick Mayhew-Smith called The Naked Hermit: A Journey To The Heart Of Celtic Britain. The book talks of Mayhew-Smith’s immersion into various sacred natural places scattered throughout Britain and Ireland and as we journey with him, the power and luminosity of earth’s sacred spaces begin to be revealed. You can listen to the entire dialogue between Rupert Sheldrake and Mark Vernon here:
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