What the heck is collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body and is arguably the most important protein for athletic performance. This protein plays a structural role in building healthy joints, skin, bones, hair, and nails. It also promotes a healthy gut by providing the building blocks of the high-sensitive digestive organs. So, you really need to take your collagen supplement seriously.
Even though collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, the production declines as humans age. Therefore it’s important to support an aging body with dietary sources of collagen. Unfortunately, these dietary sources are not present in the Standard American Diet. issue. Collagen is typically found in the bones, connective tissue, skin and organs of animals and fish.
Also Read: Organ Meats: Benefits and How to Eat Them
Primitive humans believed in a “whole animal” approach so consuming enough collagen to support a healthy body wasn’t an issue. In modern days, these important elements of animals are removed before they are sold in stores and are not that easy to find at most conventional supermarkets. You might, however, have some luck finding beef bones at the meat counter and would be able to use them to make a nutrient-dense bone broth. Other collagen-containing foods can be found at a high-end stores like Whole Foods or other specialty grocery store, or obtained directly from a butcher.
Not all collagen is the same.
Science has found that collagen contributes to skin elasticity, strong hair and nails, healthy ligaments and tendons, improved flexibility and joint mobility, a healthy GI tract, and weight management.
The personal care product and supplement industries have caught wind of these scientific conclusions and have saturated the market with expensive pills, creams and powders. The problem with most of these products contain man-mad collagen which isn’t extracted from connective tissue of animals. These synthetic forms of collagen are not effectively or optimally absorbed and utilized by the body to serve as building blocks.
Also Read: 3 Must-have Protein Supplements and Why?
The way in which the animal was raised is also important in determining effectiveness. Conventionally-raised and grain-fed animals do provide collagen in a form that the body can utilize but the nutritional profile (i.e. composition of fatty acids and amino acids) of the collagen that these animals yield is not as good as grass-fed animals.
So, what should I look for in a collagen supplement?
I understand that not everyone finds organ meats or animal skin appealing, so there are other options on the market that are flavorless and still contain high amounts of collagen. One major thing that you want to look for when choosing a collagen supplement is that it’s sourced straight from animals or fish. The good ones will actually tell you which part of the animal the collagen is extracted from (bones, skin, hide, or connective tissue).
For optimum collagen quality, look for animal sources to be grass-fed and pasture-raised, and for fish to be non-GMO and wild-caught. Here are some examples of high-quality collagen supplements:
- MY FAVORITE: Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides uses collagen from the hide of bovine animals (cow, bison, buffalo, etc.) and fish (red snapper).
- Great Lakes Gelatin uses hides from grass-fed cattle from South America and hormone-free pigs.
- Dr. Axe’s Collagen Protein is derived from a combination of grass-fed beef, chicken bone broth, wild-fish and eggshell membranes.
- Bulletproof’s Collagen Protein is from grass-fed, pasture-raised cows
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