Supplemental collagen has been growing in popularity over the last couple of years with recipes adding it hither, thither & with great abandon. So of course I often get questions as to whether we really need the extra influx or not.
To start with the science bit.
Collagen is a structural protein made of amino acids (the beads that make the protein necklace) that comprise our connective tissues, anything from the corneas in your eyes to your nails, your intestinal wall, cell membranes, skin, muscles, bones & more. Gelatine is actually the same amino acids bonded together in a slightly different way which is why the 2 behave in different ways when we use them in food & drinks.
There are actually 30 different types of collagen of which 5 are the most common & 90% of the stuff we find in the body is Type I (skin, tendons, blood vessels, organs, bone). Type II is in cartilage, Type III your organs, Type IV the basement membrane (this separates internal from external structures) & Type V your cell surfaces, hair & placenta. The others are more specialised & present in smaller quantities.
So why would we add extra into our diets?
Well as you can see you need a lot for quite a number of things, & yes you will divert amino acids when you include protein into your meals to make collagen (all proteins are digested into those amino acid building blocks then re-jigged into new combinations to repair & regenerate parts of the body). However often we may not have enough in our diet to cover all of our bases, our uptake could be less than 100% due to digestive inefficacy, & as a result our body will prioritise the more vital structures such as organs & muscles over our skin & hair so these become lacklustre or lose elasticity. We also naturally become less efficient at making collagen as we age & so an additional influx bypasses the potential to fall short, it’s as simple as that!
I would also say that for those who exercise frequently, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, those with digestive or joint inflammation, are recovering from surgery & as previously mentioned those slightly more advanced in years, collagen offers a really nice easy to digest protein to support the fact your requirements during those times are higher. I personally incorporate collagen powder into my routine regularly for that exact purpose - I exercise regularly, know my joints & supportive structures take a bit of a battering & thus ensure my dietary influx meets my needs. My recommendation being 1 tablespoon per day of either the Bare Biology Skinful collagen (use the code NATNOURISH at the checkout on their website for 20% off your first order) or the Hunter & Gather products. Dissolve in a hot drink, blend into a smoothie, stir into yoghurt or cooked fruit.
As always please do be in touch with any questions.
With healthy wishes,