You’ve seen everyone in your Insta feed sprinkling collagen peptides into their coffee and sipping on bone broth, preaching about the healing powers of this wonder protein. And with good reason: it’s been known to promote glowing skin, shiny hair, and strong nails, and to heal specific gut issues. We talked to nutritionist and strength trainer Sylvie Tetrault to learn more about why this wellness trend is becoming a perma wellness practice.
First off, let’s talk about some building blocks. What is (ingestible) collagen exactly?
Collagen itself is the most abundant protein in our bodies and can be found in bones, skin, hair, nails, digestive tissue, tendons, ligaments etc. Think of collagen as the glue that makes our skin firm and our joints sturdy. The ingestible form is a processed powder or capsule extracted from bovine, poultry, marine, or egg shell membrane sources. Collagen naturally decreases with age, so boosting our collagen intake as we age becomes very important for our health. Collagen lives up the hype by improving the health of our skin, hair and nails, keeping our joints strong, boosting our gut health, and improving our metabolism.
Can you tell us a bit more about the internal and external benefits of collagen?
Collagen has been associated with a lot of beauty products, but in fact what is does internally is where the magic really lies. The collagen molecules themselves can be quite large for our skin to absorb so ingesting collagen is actually more beneficial. Collagen helps to soothe our gut lining in order to protect our systems from absorbing unwanted particles which could lead to a host of health issues. Collagen helps to seal and protect our intestinal tract boosting the absorption and assimilation of the nutrients we are taking in from our healthy diets. The key to our health lies in our gut health.
Is there such thing as too much collagen? How much should we be ingesting a day?
Taking in one to two servings daily of food sources that contain collagen, like bone broth, is perfectly safe and healthy. When it comes to supplementation there can be such a thing as too much. I recommended sticking to the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) amount of powder or capsules to reap the benefits of including collagen in your diet. Make sure to include quality protein sources to get a variety of amino acids.
What are some natural sources of collagen? How about supplements? Is one better than the other?
Bone broth is one of the best sources and can be made from chicken, beef, or fish bones. You can also get some collagen in the membranes of eggs and certain type of algae including spirulina. Collagen is also showing up in supplement form usually as hydrolyzed collagen peptides in powder or capsule form. This form is processed in a way which makes it easier for our systems to absorb and assimilate our nutrients.
They both have unique nutrient profiles, my suggestion is to mix it up so you can get the variety of amino acids as well as type of collagen. My suggestion is to start with bone broth and then add extra if you want an extra boost in benefits. There is one important consideration when taking a collagen supplement: it is best absorbed with Vitamin C either from a food source or in supplement form.
What is your favourite way to take in collagen? Why?
Well I have two. I am obsessed with bone broth and have noticed a huge difference in my gut health as well as my skin since I started incorporating bone broth into my diet. The other is to put my favourite collagen peptides powder into a coffee shake where I add almond milk, cinnamon and sometimes MCT oil. This coffee shake gives keep me full to get through a morning workout or gives me a boost cognitively to get through a busy morning of creative work.