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Everything You Need to Know About Collagen: 4 Collagen Benefits That’ll Improve Your Health

You might’ve heard varying opinions about collagen. 

It can be quite the seesaw of information. 

However...after spending years creating and drinking bone broth that has an exceptional taste and collagen profile, I’m a big believer of collagen (but more specifically, bone broth). Not just because of my own story of how I noticed the difference in my gut, mood, and especially my energy after drinking it, but because of the stories of so many of our customers who can’t go a day without it.

So if you’ve heard about collagen, want to know more about it, and want to understand whether you need more of it in your diet, then this article is for you.

What is collagen?

Did you know that there are eight types of protein? One of those types of protein is structural, otherwise known as “fibrous” protein. Collagen is one of the three fibrous proteins. It’s incredibly important for holding your body up and making sure everything’s in place — not only does it give strength to so many functions in the body but it also protects them. 

Collagen is so strong that it holds up your muscles, bones, tendons, skin, blood vessels, cartilage, teeth, ligaments, and parenchymal organs (e.g. heart, lungs, etc.) using a structural framework. Just imagine a giant scaffolding throughout your body and you’ve understood the gist of collagen!

There are 28 different types of collagen (1). It’s the most abundant protein in mammals (2) but most collagen in the human body is made up of types I, II, and III.

You can find type I in:

  • Bones
  • Ligaments
  • Tendons
  • Skin

You can find type II in:

  • Cartilage

You can find type III in:

  • Blood vessels
  • Internal organs
  • Skin

What is collagen good for?

Now here’s the million dollar question...is collagen good for you?

And the answer is: not only is it good for you, but you actually need it! Since it literally holds your body up and makes up about 30% of the body’s protein content, it’s essential to include it in your diet (3).

But exactly what is collagen good for?

Benefits of collagen 

  1. Skin Health
The skin is the largest organ of the human body. It makes up 8% of an adult’s body weight while its protein content is ~22% (4). So we have to do our best to take care of it. How can collagen help with that?
When you consume collagen orally, for example, in collagen supplements or in bone broth, the amino acids reach the deeper layers of the skin and give it structure. In turn, it supports healthier, more supple looking skin.
In a randomized, placebo-controlled, blind study of 72 healthy women aged 35 years or older, they found out that oral collagen peptides together with other dermonutrients significantly improve skin hydration, elasticity, roughness, and density after three months of intake (5). They even found that there were no collagen side effects during the trial period or afterwards.
So if you want to have healthier and firmer skin, taking collagen supplements or consuming something with a lot of collagen in it would be a great place to start.
  1. Digestion
Collagen benefits also include digestive health and relieving gut-related issues. This is because it can help to regulate gastric juices that can cause heartburn, bloating, and other related digestive problems.
But the key here is making sure you take collagen that’s broken down into smaller molecules, like in bone broth or collagen supplements. That’s when it becomes a lot easier to digest because as it moves through the gastrointestinal tract, it assists with breaking down proteins and carbohydrates, helping other food to move through your system more easily too.
  1. Joint Health
There have been lots of studies done to show the efficacy of consuming collagen peptides to support inflammation in the joints. So if you experience pain, stiffness, and tenderness in your joints, a great place to start is by having collagen supplements or organic, non-GMO bone broth. 
In a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study done at Penn State University with 147 people who competed on a varsity team or club sport, they tested the efficacy of a collagen hydrolysate (6). The athletes had joint pain, mobility issues, and inflammation and they were tested to see if the collagen supplement would help with reducing those issues. After a 24-week study phase, it was concluded that collagen hydrolysate, otherwise known as collagen peptides, reduces pain by boosting the synthesis of cartilage tissue. 
In another study, wherein subjects were studied on the effectiveness of vitamin C-enriched gelatin, it was found that adding gelatin (which has a lot of collagen) to an intermittent exercise program can promote collagen synthesis and aid in injury prevention and tissue repair (7).
Finally, according to a study done on articles from 1994 to 2014, they concluded that “hydrolyzed collagen has a positive therapeutic effect on osteoporosis and osteoarthritis with a potential increase in bone mineral density, a protective effect on articular cartilage, and especially in the symptomatic relief of pain.(8)” 
  1. Better sleep
The best time to drink collagen if you’re looking to improve your sleep is a few hours before bedtime. That’s because glycine, one of the primary amino acids in collagen, helps to calm your nervous system and lower your core body temperature (a lower body temperature allows for more quality sleep) (9).
According to this study, about 3 g of glycine or 10 g of collagen before bed can help with sleep improvement. The study was done over the course of three days and subjects took glycine about 30 minutes before going to bed.

How much collagen should you take?

According to a 2019 study done on collagen peptides, an effective amount to take would range from 2.5 to 15 grams daily.

But how much collagen per day makes sense for you? Well, it all depends on how much collagen you lack and where it’s going in the body. Even if you try to target one specific benefit, your body will prioritize and put the collagen towards where it’s needed most. For example, if you’re taking collagen peptides to improve the appearance of your skin, your body might redirect it to your joints instead.

What are collagen peptides?

Collagen peptides are what’s known as hydrolyzed collagen. It’s collagen that’s broken down into smaller, easier-to-process amino acids so that you can absorb the contents more easily through the gastrointestinal tract.

In other words, collagen peptides serve as the building blocks for production of collagen. The peptides also work as antioxidants, helping existing collagen that you yourself have synthesized naturally to stay intact.

Is collagen vegan?

Vegan sources

While there are many non-vegan sources of collagen, it doesn’t mean that collagen itself isn’t vegan. It’s a form of protein so yes, it is vegan and you can find it in plenty of vegan sources like beans, quinoa, pumpkin seeds, almonds, spirulina, and more.

But consuming collagen isn’t the only way to get its benefits. For example, vitamin C is incredibly important for the production of collagen and it also helps to protect the collagen that’s already present in your body (10). So definitely add thyme, parsley, kale, citrus fruits, broccoli, and strawberries to your diet if you haven’t already (and even if you’re not vegan because maintaining a well-balanced diet is important to keep your body functioning optimally!)

Fish sources

According to an article produced by the Nofima The Norwegian Institute of Food, Fisheries, and Aquaculture Research, fish like cod, coalfish, herring and mackerel are great sources of collagen. Fish skin in particular is a rich source of collagen (11).

Great news for people who don’t eat meat but don’t want to rely only on vegan sources for collagen benefits.

Meat sources 

One of the richest sources of collagen is bone broth that’s simmered for 24 hours or longer, especially with the use of some kind of vinegar — the acidity in it helps to break down the collagen into smaller amino acids and help you digest it more easily. That’s exactly how we make bone broth at Broya and get the maximum amount of collagen benefits.

If you want collagen from whole meat sources, the best place to look would be from a chicken. If you’ve ever cut up a raw chicken, you’ll see that they have a lot of connective tissue and that’s where collagen is concentrated.

Collagen supplements vs bone broth: which one is better?

I’ve given a lot of information about collagen itself - but what about supplements in comparison to bone broth?

Well, we can’t speak for all bone broths so we’ll compare Broya bone broth with what we’ve heard about collagen supplements. 

 

Which one’s better?

Broya bone broth

Collagen supplements

SOURCING

Organic

Non-GMO

Ethically raised

Antibiotic-free

Factory-made

Heavily processed

NUTRITION

15+ different amino acids & minerals like calcium, magnesium, and iron

15+ different amino acids & lower amount of minerals like calcium, magnesium, and iron

HOW IT’S PROCESSED

24+ hours simmering in a pot of water

Deodorizing & decolourizing

 

The biggest factor you want to look at is: do you want all the electrolytes that come with bone broth and do you care how it’s sourced? If your answer is yes, then bone broth is a great option.

Wondering when to take collagen?

The best time to take collagen all depends on what you want to achieve. If you’re taking it to relax and improve your sleep, then the best time to drink collagen would be before you go to sleep. 

A lot of Broya customers like to have bone broth as their natural nightcap because it feels like a warm hug in a mug. So not only will glycine help you relax, but the temperature of the liquid will too.

But when is the best time to take collagen if you want its other benefits? Any time during the day is a great time to have it, as long as you’re taking collagen consistently. And remember, it’s not a cure-all. You can’t just consume loads and loads of collagen but at the same time have plenty of processed foods.

No amount of collagen will help with digestive or joint inflammation if you’re not making sure to keep up a balanced diet.

What are collagen powder benefits? 

While liquid bone broth can be great for electrolytes, hydration, and giving you all the benefits that collagen itself has to offer, collagen powder can be pretty handy when it comes to shelf space.

But if you’re looking for collagen powder, make sure that the company you buy from is transparent about sourcing, their manufacturing process, and any additives that could unnecessarily be included.

How long does it take for collagen supplements to work?

The best way to answer this is: it depends.

Everyone’s body is different but according to the studies cited above, it can take as little as 3 days to as long as a few months to see the effects.

That’s why you always want to be consistent when taking collagen supplements, as well as including more bioavailable options like bone broth so that your body can absorb the collagen right away.

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