It will make your skin look dewy and fresh, your bones and nails strong, and your joints pain-free. These are the claims made by the countless manufacturers of collagen supplements that come in the form of powders, pills and creams. For that reason, it’s no surprise that collagen has become a widely sought-after ingredient in the wellness and beauty communities. But collagen’s efficacy is still pretty up in the air. Frustrated? Here’s what we know.

Contents

What is collagen?

Collagen is one of the most abundant proteins in the body. In fact, collagen is “the main structural protein that forms the connective tissue throughout our body, from skin to bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments,” said Dr. Shari Marchbein, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York. It’s no wonder that the bottled up version of this protein (usually made of animal collagen) is in high demand.

Collagen makes up a whopping 80 percent of our skin, and works with another protein called elastin that — yes, you guessed it — keeps our skin elastic. But as we age, our bodies naturally start reducing collagen production. The board-certified dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe described our body’s collagen as “ropes of protein in the skin.” When we’re young, the rope remains tight, but as we age, the ends begin to fray. Essentially, our bodies are not able to replace the collagen we are losing as quickly as it is breaking down. Starting in our 20s, we begin losing about 1 percent of our collagen each year, said Dr. Bowe. This, unfortunately, means drier skin. Sun exposure, cigarette smoke and pollution can also accelerate collagen breakdown. “The concept of supplementing our collagen, especially as we age and as our body’s natural collagen production declines, is incredibly appealing from a dermatologic standpoint,” she said.

Collagen refers to a family of proteins that are the primary structural component of connective tissues, such as skin and cartilage, according to Yale University.

The substance makes up about a third of all the protein in the human body, more than any other type of protein in the body by mass. There are 28 different types of collagen, each type categorized based on its amino acid composition. About 90% of the collagen in the body is type 1, which is found in the skin, tendons, internal organs and organic parts of bone, according to Healthline. The vast majority of the remaining collagen in the body is made up of the following types:

  • Type 2: Found in the cartilage.
  • Type 3: Found in the bone marrow and lymphoid tissues.
  • Type 4: Found in the basement membrane (thin sheets of collagen that surround most types of tissues).
  • Type 5: Found in the hair and the surfaces of cells.

Where does collagen come from?

The body naturally makes its own collagen by breaking down dietary protein into amino acids. The amino acids are what build the various types of protein in the body, including collagen, according to Shannon Weston, a registered dietitian at the University of Texas Health School of Public Health in Houston.

You get the specific building blocks for collagen by eating a balanced diet of protein-rich foods (chicken, beef, eggs, dairy, legumes, nuts and whole grains, for example) and a variety of fresh produce, according to the Cleveland Clinic. A diet high in fresh vegetables and fruit has the added benefit of providing antioxidants, which protect the body from oxidative stress that can degrade collagen, Weston said. The body’s ability to produce collagen naturally decreases as we age, she said, but excess sun exposure, smoking and poor diet can also inhibit collagen production.

A healthy diet gives your body all the materials it needs to make collagen. (Image credit: )

Collagen for medical treatment

Arthritis causes the collagen in joints to break down faster than it can be replenished, which results in joint pain and decreased mobility. Scientists have been experimenting with administering collagen for treating arthritis since the 1980s, said Brooke Russell, a microbiologist and professor at the Texas A&M Institute of Biosciences and Technology in Houston. But this method hasn’t always proven effective, she said.

Collagen supplements have been shown to help patients with osteoarthritis in a small number of clinical trials, but collagen doesn’t appear to be more effective than the leading drug for treating rheumatoid arthritis. (Image credit: )

A 2017 study published in the Journal of Arthritis found that oral collagen supplements helped relieve pain for patients with osteoarthritis, but collagen wasn’t more effective than the existing leading drug treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. A 2016 study published in Nutrition Journal also found that collagen supplements helped relieve pain in patients with osteoarthritis.

However, collagen is not likely to begin regrowing itself to completely reverse arthritis, even after a person takes oral supplements, according to the Arthritis Foundation. On the other hand, surgically inserting collagen into arthritic joints may prove to be a promising treatment for arthritis, according to a 2018 study published in the journal PLOS One.

Collagen has been more successful for treating wounds and has been used to do so for more than 2,000 years, according to a study published in the journal BioMedical Engineering OnLine. The collagen is applied topically, often with other structural proteins and antibiotics, to promote healing and prevent infection.

For example, a 2014 review published in the journal Biopolymers describes how a collagen sponge or gel may be placed over a severe burn. The sponge allows the skin to maintain a moist environment while protecting it from infections, and the collagen acts as a scaffold for the regeneration of cells and production of new collagen.

Experts recommend eating a healthy diet and using sunscreen and moisturizers daily, rather than taking a collagen supplement. (Image credit: )

Should you take a collagen supplement?

Collagen is a popular ingredient in oral supplements and topical creams, but there is little science to support the effectiveness of such treatments. Some collagen supplements claim that they can improve skin health, provide relief from joint pain, prevent bone loss, boost muscle mass, promote heart health, increase hair and nail strength, improve gut and brain health and aid weight loss, according to Healthline.

Although topical collagen has been shown to be beneficial for treating wounds, “there is little, if any, proven evidence that taking these supplements has any real medical benefit for hair, nails or skin,” said Dr. Adelaide Hebert, a professor of dermatology and director of pediatric dermatology at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. Daily use of sunscreen and moisturizer with retinoids, retinol, ceramides or salicylic acid (depending on a person’s needs) is a more effective way to keep skin healthy, Hebert said.

“Be skeptical of the health claims surrounding supplemental collagen,” Weston echoed. “Science has not fully studied all of these supposed benefits.” Additionally, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate collagen supplements with the same stringency as it does drugs, she said. This means that manufacturers of collagen supplements don’t have to prove that the supplements are effective or safe before putting them on the market.

Related: Vitamins from food — not supplements – linked with longer life

The collagen in many supplements (which generally comes from an animal source, such as cow bones or fish skin) has been highly processed, Russell said. This destroys the structure of collagen by breaking it down into peptides, which are short chains of amino acids. The resulting product is called hydrolyzed collagen, which is water-soluble and therefore easier to incorporate into a lotion or easier to dry and put into a tablet.

When considering whether to take a collagen supplement, it is important to first factor in how your diet and lifestyle are affecting collagen production in your body. “Adding a supplement to a poor diet and lifestyle will not have any health benefits,” Weston said. “Focus on lifestyle factors and a well-balanced diet, and skip the supplements.”

Additional resources:

  • Learn more about how the FDA regulates dietary supplements.
  • Read more about how collagen could be helpful for arthritis, from the Arthritis Foundation.
  • Read why this scientist says collagen in your coffee is a silly idea, from The Conversation.

By now, you’ve likely heard about the health benefits of collagen. But what scientific evidence is there to back up the claims?

There are seven main health benefits of collagen supported by research. You’ll learn how collagen can help your brain, heart, gut, joints, and more. You’ll also discover the best sources and types of collagen and how to easily include it in your keto diet plan.

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What Is Collagen and Why Is It Important?

To understand why collagen is vital to your health, you should know four things:

  1. It’s the most abundant protein in your body. It’s also one of the most vital proteins for your body to function.
  2. Collagen is a structural protein. It acts as the glue that holds your body together. Since it’s a major part of your connective tissue, collagen maintains the structure and integrity of your skin, muscle tissue, bones, and tendons.
  3. It sends out important signals to your cells. These signals can combat inflammation and repair damaged cells.
  4. Your collagen production declines naturally as you get older. As such, you may need to take supplements.

For more on collagen and how it works, check out this guide to collagen.

7 Health Benefits of Collagen

You might be familiar with collagen as a popular ingredient in beauty products and treatments. Collagen has long been touted for its ability to hydrate your skin, minimize fine lines, reduce the appearance of stretch marks, and promote hair growth.

But before you start slathering on the cream to replenish your collagen levels, you should know that topically applying collagen won’t give you the benefits on this list.

Why? Because you need to consume collagen to capture its health benefits. When ingested, collagen can impact your brain, heart, and digestive system, but the proteins are too big to penetrate your skin cells. Those topical collagen and elastin creams are really just marketing hype.

Pro tip: When taking a collagen dietary supplement, take vitamin C with it to better absorb its nutrients.

#1: Supports Healthy Brain Function

One type of collagen (known as collagen IV) may prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. In one study, collagen IV protected the brain against amyloid-beta proteins — believed to be one of the causes of Alzheimer’s.

Amyloid-beta refers to the type of amino acid that clumps together, forming a plaque which is commonly found in Alzheimer’s patients’ brains.

By increasing your collagen intake, you can create a form of protection for your brain that combats the same amyloid-beta proteins that attack neurons and cause Alzheimer’s disease. Before this study, scientists knew how collagen, cartilage, and muscle were intertwined, but they didn’t know neurons in the brain were also rich in collagen IV .

#2: Promotes Heart Health

Collagen may help lower your cholesterol and prevent heart disease. During one study, participants took collagen twice a day for six months to see if it helped prevent plaque buildup in their arteries.

Here’s what happened to the participants as a result:

  • Their LDL to HDL cholesterol ratio reduced significantly, which is good news since a higher ratio increases your risk for heart disease
  • Collagen prevented and treated the buildup of plaque in their arteries

Plaque buildup is what clogs your arteries, preventing blood from flowing to other organs. Collagen may help prevent this buildup in your blood vessels, protecting against heart attack and stroke.

#3: Supports Healthy Gut Function

Irritable bowel syndrome (or IBS) and leaky gut syndrome are two painful conditions in which the digestive tract and stomach lining become inflamed and irritated. Nutrients and toxic substances “leak” back into the bloodstream instead of being processed out. Stress, poor diet, prescription medications, too much alcohol, and a sedentary lifestyle may contribute to these gastrointestinal disorders.

This negatively impacts your digestive health, causing uncomfortable side effects like bloating, fatigue, upset stomach, diarrhea, constipation, and malnutrition. Rather than being absorbed, vitamins and minerals pass right through your system.

Bone broth, which is an incredible source of collagen, is one of the best natural ways to alleviate leaky gut symptoms. Studies show IBS patients tested low for collagen IV. Broth contains bioavailable collagen, which means your body can quickly use this protein and the other vitamins, minerals, and important amino acids (the building blocks of protein) that come with it. Even if you don’t suffer from IBS symptoms, collagen is an excellent supplement to take for gut health.

#4: Eases Joint and Knee Pain

You don’t need to be an athlete to experience joint pain. Whether your job keeps you chained to your desk or you’re on your feet all day, joint pain is something that may come up from time to time. Some people are so sensitive that a sharp change in weather is enough to stiffen up their joints.

Collagen may be able to provide natural relief. In a 24-week study, researchers gave collagen supplements to athletes without any joint diseases to see how it would affect both their cartilage and pain levels.

The results showed that collagen reduced pain while standing, lifting heavy objects, and even at rest. While more research is still needed, this study supports the possibility that collagen may help slow down joint deterioration in individuals, such as those with arthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.

In another study, scientists experimented to see how a collagen supplement would affect knee pain (specifically, osteoarthritis pain). After 180 days, participants had less pain and lowered scores on the osteoarthritis index as well as reduced stiffness and physical limitations.

#5: Supports Your Back

If you suffer from back pain you may find relief with collagen. In one study, 200 participants (over the age of 50) with upper or lower back pain took 1,200 milligrams of collagen a day (or a placebo).

By the six-month mark, over 20% of the collagen group saw a significant improvement in their back pain after taking collagen every day.

#6: Supports Healthy Skin

Along with drinking lots of water and limiting your sun exposure, you probably know the claims about collagen’s anti-aging properties. In one recent study, scientists wanted to see how collagen would affect collagen peptides in the skin. The study observed 69 women between the ages of 35 and 55 for eight weeks. Women who took a collagen supplement showed noticeable improvement in skin elasticity compared to women who took a placebo.

What’s even more interesting is the older women in the collagen group had more noticeable improvements, possibly because collagen production decreases with age, leaving greater room for improvement. Scientists also noticed positive changes in the participant’s skin’s moisture and dryness levels, however, it was not statistically significant enough to report. Another study found that oral supplementation with collagen improved skin hydration levels in just eight weeks .

Here’s an important finding to note: Researchers discovered the changes in the participants’ skin only when hydrolyzed collagen was consumed . Why? When you ingest this form of collagen, your gut immediately absorbs it and sends it straight to your joints and skin through your bloodstream.

#7: Helps Brittle, Broken Nails

Collagen may help fortify your nails so they don’t become brittle and prone to breaking. In one study, 25 participants were given one 2.5 gram dose of collagen peptide each day for 24 weeks. Here’s what they found:

  • 12% increase in nail growth
  • 42% drop in broken nails
  • 64% overall improvement in formerly brittle nails

What’s more, 88% of the participants also reported these positive changes were visible in as little as four weeks.

Best Sources of Collagen

Should you buy a collagen supplement? Or can you simply get it from the foods you eat?

The truth is you don’t need to fork over hundreds of dollars for collagen supplementation — you can find it in healthy foods like bone broth. Broth is one of the richest sources of collagen and it’s easy to make your own healthy keto version too.

Here are some other foods that may help your body create more collagen:

  • Wild salmon
  • Cod
  • Tuna
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Avocados
  • Leafy greens like kale and spinach
  • Berries
  • Garlic
  • Chia seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds

For a complete list, check out this guide on the top food sources of collagen.

Keep in mind, your body is not getting collagen directly from the foods. Rather, these foods may help your body produce more of it on its own. Collagen supplementation is the only way to absorb collagen directly.

Perfect Keto Collagen

This Keto Collagen powder is packed with 10 grams of collagen peptides and contains 10 grams of protein per scoop. Each scoop is equivalent to the amount of collagen you’d find in two cups of bone broth. Plus, there’s MCT oil to boost your energy levels as well.

Thanks to this and the low carb count (just 1 gram), this protein powder won’t spike your blood sugar levels like some others on the market. And while other collagen powder may be made from random animal parts, Perfect Keto Collagen contains 100% grass-fed collagen from U.S. cattle. You also won’t find any artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.

To get started, add a scoop to your morning or mid-day drink –it’s especially good in coffee — for an extra boost of amino acids. You can also consume it before, during, or after your workout for help with muscle synthesis and recovery.

Get Started With Collagen Today

Consuming collagen benefits your body in more ways than one. It can help:

  • Protect your brain
  • Keep your heart healthy
  • Improve symptoms of IBS and leaky gut syndrome
  • Increase joint health and lessen back pain

Now that you understand the benefits of adding collagen to your diet, it’s time to monitor how much you’re taking.

For the most efficient solution, consider adding keto-friendly collagen protein powder to your daily routine and you’ll cross yet another healthy to-do item off your list.

The Vital Proteins Collagen FAQ

You’ve probably heard the Whole30 team talking about Vital Proteins collagen on social media, in Melissa’s Facebook Live discussion and in this Facebook Live with Shanna and Shannon from Vital Proteins. Today, Whole30 headmistress Melissa Hartwig Urban is going to answer your most pressing questions about collagen as it pertains to the Whole30 and your food freedom.

A Collagen Primer

  • Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body. It’s found in muscles, bone, skin, and connective tissue like tendons, and basically holds the whole body together, providing strength and structure. It’s important for healthy skin, hair, nails, and teeth; maintaining healthy joints and reducing the risk of joint degeneration, and helps to heal a leaky gut.
  • Collagen is full of non-essential amino acids, most notably glycine and proline. The proline and glycine found in collagen are also building blocks of creatine, a compound formed during protein metabolism. Creatine is involved in the supply of energy for muscular contraction, and promotes healthy muscle growth and boosts energy production during a workout.
  • Under normal circumstances, your body will produce these non-essential amino acids, but when you’re sick or under stress, your body may not be able to produce enough on its own. Other factors (like sun exposure, sugar consumption, and smoking) will hasten the decline of collagen in the body. Finally, collagen production naturally declines as we age.
  • This reduces the structural integrity of the skin and leading to sagging skin, the formation of lines and wrinkles, and the weakening of cartilage in joints, making you less flexible and making bones weaker.
  • We used to get collagen and these aminos in our diets in the form of bones and broth (eating the whole animal), but in today’s modern world, we’re highly unlikely to consume foods like bone marrow, or boil pasture-raised bones down for broth. The aminos found in collagen aren’t found in significant amounts in the muscle meat we eat or the protein supplements (like whey or BCAAs) we take post-workout. This means that today, we’re not getting a steady or adequate supply of collagen, glycine, or proline in our diets.
  • Taking a collagen supplement can help keep our skin smooth and supple, our nails and hair strong and healthy, our joints strong and flexible, and our guts healthy. As a fitness supplement, it complements the protein and BCAAs we’re taking to ensure creatine production is high, muscles are strong, and we are able to maintain energy during training sessions. It’s also highly bioavailable, easy to be absorbed and utilized in the body.

Why Vital Proteins (versus other brands)?

  • Product innovation: their Beauty Greens are specifically targeted to women looking for a natural way to improve skin, hair, and nails; Marine Collagen is a good fit for pescetarians or those with bovine allergies. Blends like their Beauty Greens (made with their Non-GMO Marine Collagen), Dark Chocolate & Blackberry Collagen Peptides, Mixed Berry Collagen Peptides and Vanilla Collagen Peptides offer more than just collagen, incorporating skin, hair, and nail improving ingredients like hyaluronic acid and probiotics. Their assortment of Collagen Beauty Waters are specifically targeted to women looking for natural beauty-boosting benefits that work from the inside out. Collagen Bone Broth is a Whole30 pantry item, especially helpful as a broth base for Whole30 soups and other dishes.
  • Truly flavorless: VP collagen peptides are (compared to other brands I’ve tried) truly flavorless. This makes them ideal to add to water, coffee or tea, or as added protein in scrambled eggs, mashed sweet potato, or other foods.
  • Sourcing: It used to be collagen was made from “leftover” parts, but today we understand so much more about how the health of the animal plays into the quality of the products made from their meat, organs, bones, and hides. Vital Proteins collagen is all pasture-raised cows or wild-caught fish.
  • Ethically-sourced, simple ingredients are the foundation of every Vital Proteins product.
  • Social community: Vital Proteins has a vibrant social media presence with tons of value-added, including recipes, testimonials, and lifestyle, health, and fitness tips, which means our community has a ton of great resources straight from the source. They’re also very generous with giveaways… stay tuned later this week!

Are all Vital Proteins products Whole30 approved?

All but their Collagen Whey Proteins line. (Because, you know, whey.) However, if you tolerate whey well during your Whole30 reintroduction and decide to reincorporate it back into your fitness routine, the combination of BCAAs, proline, and glycine in this particular blend make it the ideal post-workout supplement.

So you’re saying there IS a Whole30 Approved protein powder?

Kind of… but not the way you think. Vital Proteins collagen is a whole food supplement, much like bone broth, providing you with valuable-but-missing nutrients in your modern diet. But you’re not going to want to use Collagen Peptides post-workout as a substitute for the whey or soy protein you used to use. That’s because the amino acid profile is totally different; collagen doesn’t contain the same branch-chain amino acids (BCAAs) that are so important for muscle recovery post-workout. Don’t think of these products as adding extra protein to your day (although they will, to a small degree)… think of them as adding a valuable source of scarce amino acids and skin/hair/nail/joint/gut-building compounds to your already healthy diet.

What about the wheat grass or barley grass in the Beauty Greens? I thought grains were out.

The Beauty Greens uses wheat and barley grasses, but these shouldn’t be confused with grains themselves. As I explained in It Starts With Food, the problematic components of grains are found in the seed, but the grasses from these plants don’t contain any of the components the Whole30 is concerned with (like gluten). As such, they’re fine to consume during the Whole30, and this product is Whole30 Approved.

Collagen vs. gelatin: what’s the diff?

Gelatin is the by-product of boiling down the collagen in bones, connective tissue, and hides. It contains the same amino acids and protein, but it needs to be dissolved in boiling water, then cooled to “set.” (Think Jell-O.) While this form is awesome for making protein-rich no-sugar-added gummy supplements, it’s not so convenient to blend into just about anything on the go. That’s where collagen peptides come in; they mix into absolutely anything (liquid or solid) and are flavorless and odorless.

Bovine collagen vs. marine collagen: what’s the diff?

Just the source—collagen from cows vs. collagen from fish. Their Marine Collagen is a good choice for pescetarians or those with a bovine (beef) allergy or sensitivity.

If I’m only going to order one product, which would you recommend?

That depends on your primary reason for using their collagen. If you’re specifically looking for glowing skin, thicker hair and stronger nails, the Beauty Greens have additional nutrients designed to maximally support those systems. However, the “green” part means it’s not as easy to add to coffee, tea, or scrambled eggs, so there is less versatility. If you want something you can effortlessly add into your everyday routine in a variety of formats, try the Collagen Peptides. (You can also order both and rotate, which is what I do.)

Is it REALLY tasteless? Like, really?

Here’s how I describe it: it tastes like something, but it doesn’t taste like anything. (You’re welcome.) Seriously, you’ll maybe know something is in there, but I promise you won’t have any funky flavors, aftertastes, or weirdness.

What’s my recommended “dose?”

As with any supplement, more doesn’t equal better. Too much collagen all at once can promote bloating or constipation, so start off easy. Try one serving (generally a scoop) per day, either all at once or split into two “doses.” If that feels great, you can always try a scoop in the AM and one PM, or one scoop of the Collagen Peptides or Mixed Berry Peptides in the morning and a scoop of the Lavender Lemon Water in the afternoon.

How can I work these products into my Whole30?

Here’s what I do; either take inspiration from my routine, or just flat-out steal it. First, I wake up and fill a one-liter water bottle with cold water, then mix in half a scoop of either the Collagen Peptides or Beauty Greens. I drink from that all morning, until it’s gone. Then, after my workout, I put half a scoop in my hot decaf coffee, mixed with my Whole30 Approved nutpods. (Sounds weird, but I swear, Collagen Peptides + coffee or tea is magically creamy and delicious.) That’s it! Extra collagen, mixed effortlessly into stuff I’m already drinking.

Vital Proteins recently added Collagen Peptides and Marine Collagen capsules to their collection of products. Are these Whole30 Approved and would you recommend I take them during my Whole30? These single-ingredient capsules are an easy way to get the micronutrient into you when you’re on the go, or for those who just want to consolidate their healthy supplement routine into one big gulp and a swig of water. It’s no different than drinking bone broth versus adding a scoop of collagen peptides to your water, or eating liver versus taking liver capsules. Same micronutrients, different delivery mechanism–whatever works for you.

Are there recipes?

Oh yes, all created by bloggers far more creative than me. The Vital Proteins Instagram feed features recipes using their products, as does their blog. (Note, not all recipes are Whole30 compliant, so read your ingredients carefully.) You can use their Gelatin to make Stupid Easy Paleo’s fruit juice-based gummies or Kombucha gummies (both Whole30 compliant), and stay tuned, because we’ll be bringing you some great Whole30 recipes right here on the blog later this week.

Where can I buy Vital Proteins?

You can buy Vital Proteins products on their website (free shipping!) and at a number of retailers in the US – Whole Foods and Vitamin Shoppe being some of the larger, but check out their store locater for retailers in your area. You can also purchase Vital Proteins as part of our Whole30 kits through Barefoot Provisions.

Continue the discussion…

If you have more questions about Vital Proteins products or want to share your favorite way to incorporate them into your #SeptemberWhole30, connect with Vital Proteins on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or Snapchat (@vitalproteins)!

This post was sponsored by Vital Proteins, a Whole30 affiliate partner

I Added Collagen to My Diet for 6 Weeks and Noticed Some Major Changes. Here’s What Happened

Adding beauty-boosting supplements into our diets is a great way to care for the skin without beauty products. That being said, some of us — i.e., me — don’t have the stomach to swallow pills first thing in the morning (or ever). That’s how I found myself adding collagen powder to my morning smoothies.

Best known for its anti-aging abilities, collagen is a natural fiber that gives the skin its strength and flexibility. However, as we age, our bodies’ natural collagen production begins to slow down, resulting in fine lines, wrinkles, loss of density, and more. I like to think of collagen powder as beauty fairy dust, as it can actually reverse some of those visible signs of aging, improve the look of the complexion, and even promote hair growth.

By adding a scoop of collagen powder to my morning smoothie every day for six weeks, I saw visible changes in the clarity of my skin, strength of my nails, and — get this — my hair grew like a weed. Curious to know more? Read on to discover my go-to collagen powder, plus all the major changes in my hair, skin, and nails.

Vital Proteins

My go-to collagen powder

Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides ($25-$43)

First thing’s first, the powder. After scouring the internet and Whole Foods, I decided to go with Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides. The grass-fed, pasture-raised powder comes highly recommended by fitness and wellness experts, is Whole30-approved, kosher, and is completely flavorless and odorless for more versatility. Another reason to love it? If you’re always on-the-go (like me), you can purchase to-go packs and pour the powder into your fresh pressed juices or smoothies, add it to your oatmeal, and so on.

Now, on to the results.

1. My dry skin vanished

Say goodbye to flaky skin. | ThomFoto/Getty Images

As far as “skin types” go, my skin almost always falls on the drier side of the spectrum. As a result, I often douse my face and body in coconut oil for added nourishment. However, after adding the Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides in my diet, I noticed a drastic change in the suppleness of my skin. Without coconut oil, my skin typically feels very dry. But, after just a few weeks of adding the powder to my diet, I noticed that my skin appeared ultra supple and soft — a sign of hydrated skin — without coconut oil.

2. My hair grew like a weed

Make every day a good hair day.| iStock.com/Julenochek

I’ve always had really long hair, but I impulsively chopped it off about a year and a half ago and have been desperately trying to grow it out ever since. As it turns out, collagen powder is what my hair has been waiting for.

Before diving into this experiment, I had no idea that the supplement could actually aid in hair growth. But, after about three weeks of taking the powdered supplement every day, I began to notice a substantial difference in my hair growth. When supercharged with collagen powder, it appeared as though my hair was growing faster than ever before.

And that’s not all. In addition to hair growth, I also noticed a difference in my hair’s texture and shine. Thanks to its ability to naturally nourish, my hair appeared ultra shiny and smooth, with a silky soft texture.

3. My nails are stronger than ever

Keep your nails looking healthy and strong. | @beautyaddictedd via Instagram

I’ve always considered myself someone with stronger nails. However, once they grow out to a certain point, they become ultra brittle. That all changed after incorporating collagen peptides in my diet. Around the same time that I noticed my hair growth (three weeks) I also began to notice that, when my nails grew out, they weren’t breaking or peeling for once.

4. My skin looked brighter

Get a lit-from-within complexion. | iStock.com

Another way collagen upped my beauty game? It gave me a brighter, more toned-looking complexion. Thanks to its ability to naturally hydrate the skin, my dry skin, and the drab-looking tone that came with it, was no longer an issue. After about a month of use, I noticed that my complexion not only looked brighter, but it had a natural-looking glow from within.

5. My beauty sleep improved

Wake up refreshed and ready to start the day. | iStock.com/Zdenkam

I didn’t realize this until after the fact — while researching all the ways collagen benefits beauty and health — but since I started adding collagen to my diet, I have noticed a significant change in my sleep patterns. I normally have a hard time waking up in the morning, but after six weeks of taking the supplement, I noticed that I have been waking up feeling more rested and energized than before.

The anti-aging benefits of collagen peptides

Prevention is key. | PavelKriuchkov/Getty Images

As I mentioned previously, the anti-aging benefits of collagen peptides are huge. However, I did not notice any drastic changes in my own skin, because I’m not quite there yet.

That being said, after seeing how quickly the peptides nourished my complexion and left my skin feeling ultra supple, soft, and smooth, I can certainly see how the power of collagen peptides can be used as a natural anti-ager. In fact, according to a recent study, if you take a daily supplement that contains collagen — whether it’s from collagen powder or a pill — you may actually see a significant reduction in the depth of eye wrinkles, as well as improvement in the skin’s collagen and elastin.

DR AXE MULTI COLLAGEN BEAUTY WITHIN PROTEIN 1LB

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We all know it’s important to take care of our skin as we age – to remove makeup every night; to always (ALWAYS) apply broad spectrum sunscreen with a rating of at least SPF30 regardless of the season or time of year; and to use other topical skin-beneficial ingredients like antioxidant serums, retinoid creams, and the like. But when it comes to skin health, what we put into our bodies is just as important as the lotions and potions we apply to the skin. For healthy youthful skin, experts recommend drinking lots of pure water, staying away from too much sugar, avoiding cigarette smoke, eating foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, and reducing/eliminating alcohol consumption.

But what if I told you there’s a nutritional drink scientifically proven to significantly decrease wrinkles (especially your deepest wrinkles); to improve your skin’s elasticity; and to increase your skin’s overall hydration levels? Would you be interested? Turns out such a miraculous concoction does exist.

The foundation for this anti-aging cocktail is collagen. In humans collagen is a key component of the skin, hair and nails and makes up nearly 30% of our bodies’ protein composition (Borumand & Sevilla). Sadly, collagen production decreases as we age, causing a number of common aging complaints – wrinkles, sagging skin and loss of skin tone and elasticity. Recent technical advances have produced a supplemental form of collagen that, when consumed in conjunction with certain other key nutrients, effectively combats age-related collagen loss and associated skin concerns.

A Bevy of Beautifying Collagens

What Is Collagen?
Supplemental collagen is closely related to gelatin, but it’s chemically different from the gelatin (this ain’t your grandmother’s JELL-O) you’ve eaten in the past. The differences between gelatin and collagen can get pretty technical, so I’d encourage you to check out this article from Dr. O’Shea at The Doctor Within, as well as this excellent summary from Paleo Leap for more detail. The basic idea is that the protein components (amino acids) and peptides in gelatin must undergo additional processing to break down those components into forms more readily absorbed by humans’ digestive tracts, i.e. to break down the proteins into forms our bodies can actually digest and use to strengthen skin, hair and nails. The specific additional processing is known as hydrolysis and results in “hydrolyzed collagen,” also known as “collagen hydrolysate.”

But Haven’t Gelatin Supplements Been around Forever?
You may have seen gelatin tabs or powder gelatin supplements in stores. They’ve been around for a while. But researchers say those old-school gelatin capsules and supplements are all but worthless. That’s because the body isn’t able to break down those gelatin proteins to create the necessary building blocks for stronger hair and nail structures. N.B. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors often consumed the skin, bones and connective tissues of wild or free-range meats and fish. These sources do provide collagen more readily digested and assimilated by the human body. However, most modern diets do not include sufficient amounts of these food sources of usable collagen. Therefore supplementation is recommended. So #paleo diet folks and #whole30 fans alike can rest assured that hydrolyzed collagen supplementation is completely compliant with their chosen food regimens.

According to Borumand & Sibilla (2015), previous “oral (collagen/gelatin) treatments for skin aging have been unsuccessful due to their constituents being broken down by acid and enzymes in the gut; however several studies have shown that hydrolyzed collagen is absorbed in the gut and then delivered to skin and joints through the blood stream (see reference 1 below).” Researchers have also found that consuming hydrolyzed collagen along with oral hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C produces the best results and efficacy. Several recent studies have reported impressive wrinkle-reduction and skin hydrating results using a cocktail of supplemental hydrolyzed collagen, hyaluronic acid (HA) and Vitamin C. Borumand & Sibilla found that this combination resulted in 25-50% skin hydration levels among study participants. They also noted significant decrease in wrinkle depth among those receiving the hydrolyzed collagen+hyaluronic acid+Vitamin C cocktail. An earlier study by Ohara et al. (2009) using a combination collagen+HA+Vitamin C supplement produced similar results in terms of improved skin hydration and increased elasticity. But in this study, participants over age 30 displayed the most significant wrinkle-reduction results (see reference 2 below).

So the evidence definitely supports this combo of supplements for improving skin-related aging complaints. Perhaps you’re eager to try out these supplements for yourself. You’ll first need to decide which hydrolyzed collagen, HA and Vitamin C option or options are best for you. I have listed some options for each below. Where possible, I’ve included comments based on my own experimentation with these products. I should note that no evidence has been found indicating any negative side effects from collagen supplementation. I personally have a pretty delicate system. There’s lots of things I cannot take, but I’ve never had any problems or side effects from the collagen, HA and superfood C products I’ve tried. Nevertheless, we are all different. You may respond more favorably to one brand of hydrolyzed collagen (or HA or C) over others. It may take some experimentation to discover the best combo for you. Here are some options to consider.

Hydrolyzed Collagen Supplements

• Reserveage Organics Collagen Replenish (for $15.79 for just 2.75 oz.) provides 2,500 mg. of hydrolyzed collagen + 20 mg. of hyaluronic acid and 60 mg. of Vitamin C (ascorbic acid). This one is pretty pricey compared to other hydrolyzed collagen options below but earns points for convenience by combining all 3 necessary supplements into one powder form.

• California Gold Nutrition CollagenUp ($12.95) contains 60 mg. each of hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C along with 5,000 mg. of hydrolyzed collagen (from fish). This product is odorless and tasteless in every beverage I’ve tried. It does require a bit more stirring to dissolve (compared to the NeoCell Super Collagen below).

California Gold Nutrition CollagenUp 5000

• NeoCell’s Super Powder Collagen ($10.84 for 7 oz.) provides a whopping 6,600 mg. of hydrolyzed collagen. But it doesn’t include added Vitamin C or hyaluronic acid, so you’ll need to find those from other sources. N.B. NeoCell produces and recommends their own hyaluronic acid, but I suspect any well-made HA will work in conjunction with the NeoCell Super Powder Collagen.

• Last but definitely not least, Great Lakes Gelatin Co., Collagen Hydrolysate, Collagen Joint Care, is available from Amazon and iHerb along with other online sources. Price varies from $21-25 (generally around $23) / 16 oz. This amazing collagen product is odorless and tasteless (some reviewers report it has a slightly “meaty” flavor), dissolves quickly in hot, warm or cold liquids and offers pure hydrolyzed beef collagen – 6,000 mg. (6 grams) per Tablespoon. It’s worth noting that one (male) iHerb reviewer actually described this collagen as “better than Botox.” See that review here. Now that’s my kinda supplement!!!

Great Lakes Gelatin Brand Collagen Hydrolysate

Hyaluronic Acid Supplements

• Vitamin Shoppe brand makes a terrific hyaluronic acid product, Injuv Hyaluronic Acid 140 mg. I’ve used and enjoyed this product without any negative side effects. It has a very high level of hyaluronic acid per (2 gel-tab) dose, providing 140mg. relative to most other HA supplements, most of which provide no more than 100mg. of HA per dose. And because it’s Vitamin Shoppe brand, you’re sometimes able to get discounted prices for this product, especially if you’re a loyal Shoppe buyer.

• Neocell’s Hyaluronic Acid, Nature’s Moisturizer product provides 100mg. of HA per 2 capsule dose ($19 for 60 capsules). This one is reasonably priced and is another great HA option.

Superfood Vitamin C Sources

My Current Fav Superfood Vitamin C Source

Back in the day, the options available for Vitamin C supplementation were all lab-generated (often synthetically created) pills and sugary Vitamin C chewables. One problem with these options was the “GI distress” many people suffered when taking more than 1,000 mg. (1 gram) of Vitamin C per day. Next came Vitamin C Ester, highly touted by such skin/beauty gurus as Dr. Nicholas Perricone (of PBS and Perricone Prescription fame) who has been a big proponent of Vitamin C Ester, a different version lab-created C option. Some people claim Vitamin C Ester results in less digestive upset than traditional Vitamin C. However, several exerts (references here and here) state that Vitamin C Ester is chemically so different from the form readily recognized by the human body that it is less effective (than say Ascorbic Acid).

In the past few years another, more natural Vitamin C options have become widely available – C supplementation through consumption of concentrated essences of so-called “superfoods,” such as pomegranate, Camu Camu, acerola and others. These sources of Vitamin C are reportedly the most readily used by the human body and are the least likely to cause digestive side effectives (reference here). Hooray! Finally an answer to the C debate. There are some excellent “superfood” supplement options available to help you meet your Vitamin C needs. Here are a few to consider.

• Navitas Naturals, Organic, Pomegranate Powder (pictured above) – Tart and sweet this bright orange powder dissolves quickly in liquids and imparts a nice pomegranate flavor. Just 1 Tbsp. of this powder provides 130% of your (adult) RDA for Vitamin C. And it’s certified organic, raw, kosher, gluten-free and non-GMO. Navitas claims this product provides a, “potent source of naturally occurring phytonutrients and superior antioxidants like polyphenols, ellagic acid, tannins and anthocyanins. When consumed, these compounds are strong free-radical fighters, providing added protection against cellular damage.” I like this supplement a lot. This is what I used in the Get Glowing Green Tea recipe which will be posted separately along with a few other collagen+HA+C beverage recipes.

• Sunfood, Raw Organic Camu Camu Powder – This powdered concentrated raw powdered essence of the Amazonian super fruit, Camu Camu provides more than 250% of an adult’s RDA for Vitamin C in just 1 tiny teaspoon. Sunfood claims this product is manufactured in a special way that “preserves the abundance of Vitamin C in the Camu fruit.”

• Navitas Naturals also makes an organic, raw Camu Camu powder supplement that boasts an almost too-good-to-be-true 1180% RDA for Vitamin C in just 1 teaspoon! The reviews for this product and the Sunfood version state pretty consistently that both companies’ Camu powdered supplements taste pretty bitter; though the Sunfood version seems to be less bitter (it also provides less Vitamin C).

• You may prefer to take your super fruit supplement in capsule form. If so, this product, Pure Radiance C Veggie Caps from The Synergy Company ($22.34 for 90 caps) is a great option. Based on The Synergy Company’s “proprietary blend of all whole food extracts,” including Camu Camu berry extract, manioc root, acerola berry extract, among others, just 1 of these capsules provides 200% of the RDA for Vitamin C as well as several naturally occurring co-factors and other antioxidants.

As stated above, I will soon be posting several beautifying and anti-aging “cocktail” recipes using this combination of nutrients. So be on the lookout for that! In the meantime, do some shopping. Find the right hydrolyzed collagen, hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C supplements for you! I encourage you to check out the referenced articles below if you’d like to some more research on this anti-aging combo for yourself. And if you’re interested in reading about my preferred form of topical hyaluronic acid, be sure to check out this post.

Beauty Resource for the Day:
Time to identify and correct some possible beauty mistakes you may be (unknowingly) making.
Check out this list of 20 frequently-violated beauty rules from Listotic.
P.S. I’m totally guilty of #3! Guess it’s time to change my sleeping habits too…☹

Wisdom for the Day:
“If you faithfully obey the commands that I’m giving you today, love the Lord your God, and serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, 14 I will send rain on your land at the right time, both in the fall and in the spring. Then you will gather your own grain, new wine, and olive oil. 15 I will provide grass in the fields for your animals, and you will be able to eat all you want.” ~Deuteronomy 11:13-15 (God’s Word Translation)
Read more here.

Referenced Article and Links for Further Reading:
If you’re interested in checking out the scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of hydrolyzed collagen ingestion for wrinkle reduction and increased skin hydration, below are some citations for studies (referenced above) Hydrolyzed Collagen Consumption for Skin:
1. Effects of a nutritional supplement containing collagen peptides on skin elasticity, hydration and wrinkles (2015). Borumand & Sibilla S. Journal of Medical Nutrition and Nutraceuticals; 4(1), 47-53. .
2. Ohara H, Ito K, Iida H, Matsumoto H. Improvement in the moisture content of the stratum corneum following 4 weeks of collagen hydrolysate ingestion. Nippon Shokuhin Kogaku Kaishi 2009; 56: 137-45. .
3. Matsumoto H, Ohara H, Ito K, Nakamura Y, Takahashi S. Clinical effect of fish type I collagen hydrolysate on
skin properties. ITE Lett Batteries New Technol Med 2006; 7:386-390. Full text unavailable. See other cited article links (above and below) for summary of this study.
4. Sibilla S, Godfrey M, Brewer S, Budh-Raja A, Genovese L. An Overview of the Beneficial Effects of Hydrolysed Collagen as a Nutraceutical on Skin Properties: Scientific Background and Clinical Studies. The Open Nutraceuticals Journal 2015; 8: 29-42. Online full text article available here.
5. Dr. Tim O’Shea of The Doctor Within on Hydrolyzed Collagen Supplementation. .
6. All About Gelatin & Collagen from Paleo Leap.
7. And you’ll want to check out this list of Studies on Collagen Supplementation from Collagen Complete.

It’s not just for wrinkles anymore. The collagen trend has spread from cosmetic injections to products you see every day on grocery and drugstore shelves. Food, skin cream, pills and powders all tout collagen as the way to a healthy, vibrant body. Are they worth your money?

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“Your body has been making collagen your whole life,” says Elizabeth Bradley, MD, Medical Director of Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine. “Products to boost your collagen levels may be helpful, but first consider if your body needs more.”

When collagen levels drop

Collagen is a protein — the most plentiful protein in your body. It’s in your muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, organs, blood vessels, skin, intestinal lining and other connective tissues.

While you can’t measure your collagen level, you can tell when it’s falling. Collagen decreases as you get older, contributing to:

  • Wrinkles and crepey skin
  • Stiffer, less flexible tendons and ligaments
  • Shrinking, weakening muscles
  • Joint pain or osteoarthritis due to worn cartilage
  • Gastrointestinal problems due to thinning of the lining in your digestive tract

“Aside from aging, the top reason people don’t have enough collagen is poor diet,” Dr. Bradley says. “Your body can’t make collagen if it doesn’t have the necessary elements.”

Making collagen naturally

When your body makes collagen, it combines amino acids — nutrients you get from eating protein-rich foods, like beef, chicken, fish, beans, eggs and dairy products.

The process also requires vitamin C, zinc and copper. You can get vitamin C by eating citrus fruits, red and green peppers, tomatoes, broccoli and greens. You can get the minerals by eating meats, shellfish, nuts, whole grains and beans.

“As you age, however, your body may no longer absorb nutrients as well or synthesize them as efficiently,” Dr. Bradley says. “To make sure your body has enough ingredients to make collagen, you may need to change what you eat or take dietary supplements.”

The best collagen-boosting food

In addition to healthy servings of foods packed with protein, vitamins and minerals, Dr. Bradley recommends her favorite collagen-boosting brew: bone broth. You can buy it in grocery stores or make it yourself.

Bone broth draws collagen out of beef, chicken or fish bones, leaving a flavorful liquid that you can drink straight up or use in other dishes. Most bone broth recipes require slowly simmering bones in water — on the stove or in a crockpot — for one or two days.

“I recommend buying only organic bone broth, or cooking broth from the bones of only organically raised animals,” Dr. Bradley says. “You don’t want the residue of pesticides, antibiotics and other contaminants in your broth.”

Second best: collagen supplements

If you’re eating a healthy diet and feeding your body all the nutrients it needs to make collagen, you probably don’t need a supplement, Dr. Bradley says. But there’s nothing wrong with taking one.

Hydrolyzed collagen (or “collagen peptide”) powder usually has no flavor and dissolves easily in beverages, smoothies, soups and sauces.

As for skin cream with synthetic collagen, it may work. It will add a film-like layer to your skin to reduce water loss and act as a barrier from environmental elements. But using skin cream is probably not as effective as healthy eating — and protecting your skin from excessive sun exposure and sunburns, especially early in life, Dr. Bradley says.

“Your skin is your body’s largest organ,” she says. “The same way you nourish collagen stores throughout your body will nourish your skin too.”

But First, How Do I Take Collagen?

Deciding to take collagen as a supplement is an easy choice. Who doesn’t want shiny hair, glowing skin, strong nails and supple joints?** The not so easy part is knowing the best way to take collagen. Below are some of the most common ways people prefer to take their collagen.

The beauty of our products – most specifically, our hydrolyzed Collagen Peptides – is that they can be added to all kinds of foods and beverages. Add our Collagen Peptides to your coffee, water, slow-cooker pot roast or Keto Fat Bombs. It’s soluble in both hot and cold liquids (and foods!). Our Beef Gelatin is partially hydrolyzed, meaning it’s only soluble in hot liquids and solidifies in cold or lukewarm liquids. This makes it the optimal collagen option to add to your diet if you’re looking to thicken stews or make homemade gummies. It’s also helpful for users who follow diets for sensitive gut health.**

Taking Collagen on an Empty Stomach

There are many people who claim taking collagen on an empty stomach provides them with the best results. Many people abide by this method because you need stomach acid to digest proteins, so in theory, taking collagen on an empty stomach ensures you will be able to better break down the collagen. However, you do not need to take collagen on an empty stomach to obtain the benefits. Whether you decide to take it this way is up to you!

Taking Collagen with Vitamin C

You’ll often hear it’s necessary to take vitamin C with collagen in order to see real benefits. This is partially true, given vitamin C is a nutrient that can help boost your body’s natural production of collagen.** However, consuming vitamin C at the same time you take your supplement is not necessary to get the full benefits of collagen.

When Is the Best Time to Take Collagen?

Some swear by taking collagen in the morning while your stomach is empty to maximize absorption. Others swear by taking it at night so your body has ample time to process the collagen while you sleep. To date, there has been no conclusive evidence that taking collagen at a certain time of day provides the best results, so take it when you like!

RELATED: How to Use Collagen (Plus, 15 Recipes to Get You Started)

Is It Better to Take in Hot or Cold Water?

Don’t worry coffee lovers, mixing your Collagen Peptides in hot water will not damage the collagen or weaken the benefits in any way. In fact, one of the best features of collagen peptides is that they can dissolve in hot or cold liquids. Try it out in your favorite beverage to see what will work the best for you.

In the end, the best way to take collagen to maximize the benefits is the way you enjoy it most. This will help ensure you are taking collagen consistently, which is one of the simplest ways to see the most benefits and get the results you want. Find the way that works best for you, whether that’s in your morning coffee, with a smoothie at lunch or in tea before bed, and get ready to see results!

Can I Increase My Collagen Intake?

Like with any supplement, we recommend consulting with your doctor first before increasing your collagen intake. Our suggested serving size, which is listed on each of our canisters, is 1-2 scoops.

**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Are Collagen Supplements Worth It? Here’s Everything You Need to Know

Guido Mieth/Getty Images

Collagen supplements are taking the wellness world by storm. Once seen strictly as a skin plumper and smoother, it may have a whole range of health and fitness benefits, new research shows.

For one, collagen supplements seem to improve joint health. Athletes with exercise-related joint pain who took 10 grams of collagen daily had a reduction of their symptoms, a Penn State University study found.

The protein, which is naturally in your skin, tendons, cartilage, and connective tissue, may also help make you stronger and calmer. “Collagen contains the amino acids glycine and arginine, which help the production of creatine, a substance that enhances muscle strength,” says Mark Moyad, M.D., the author of The Supplement Handbook. Glycine seems to have a calming effect on the nervous system, which can improve sleep, Dr. Moyad says. And it blunts the body’s inflammatory response to stress, protecting the stomach lining from anxiety-induced damage. (Related: Why It’s Never Too Early to Start Protecting the Collagen In Your Skin.)

Since production of collagen slows in your 30s, bumping up your levels via collagen supplements could be a smart move. But where you get it and how much you take are important. Use this four-point plan to determine the best sources and amounts for you.

Add These Collagen Foods to Your Menu

“The best source of collagen is from whole foods,” says McKel Hill, R.D.N., the founder of Nutrition Stripped. If you’re eating a high-protein diet, you’re likely getting collagen, she says. All meat and fish contain it, but the things we rarely eat, like the tendons, offer the most. So if you’re trying to boost your levels, Dr. Moyad suggests bone broth, made by boiling those collagen-rich parts. Egg whites and gelatin (as Jell-O or mixed with milk and stirred into coffee) are good options too.

If you don’t eat meat, “opt for plant sources of proline and glycine, two of the main amino acids in collagen,” Dr. Moyad says. You can get them in legumes like soybeans; spirulina, an edible blue-green algae that can be added to smoothies; and agar, a substance derived from marine red algae that can replace gelatin in vegan desserts, he says. (Read more: What Is Powdered Collagen and How Do You Use It?)

Boost Your Collagen Absorption

Certain nutrients can kick-start the body’s production of natural collagen and maximize the effects of the collagen you get from foods or supplements. Dr. Moyad calls out three vital factors: vitamin C and iron, which are both essential for collagen production, and omega-3 fatty acids, which protect the body’s collagen stores from damage. You can easily get them from foods like bell peppers, broccoli, and citrus (for vitamin C); shellfish, red meat, and dark leafy greens (iron); and salmon, mackerel, and other oily fish (omega-3s).

Turn to Collagen Supplements

If you don’t eat much (or any) meat, you may want to consider collagen powder, protein, or-if you’re aiming for a higher dosage-pills, Dr. Moyad says. Look for a supplement that’s certified by a third-party quality-testing company, like NSF International or United States Pharmacopeia (USP). Start adding it to your diet slowly: First, take 1,000 milligrams for two to three weeks. If you notice perks-your joints feel better or you fall asleep faster-stick to that dosage. But if you don’t see any effects, go ahead and increase your intake in increments of 1,000 milligrams until you get results or hit 15,000 milligrams, whichever comes first, says Dr. Moyad says. (Use collagen powder like NeoCell Super Collagen powder in this kiwi coconut smoothie bowl.)

Time Your Collagen Consumption Right

If you’re using collagen to step up your workout performance, consume collagen protein within an hour after exercise, just as you would with any other protein. People who did so improved their muscle strength and mass, according to research published in the British Journal of Nutrition. That timing appears to be critical because your muscles may be able to use collagen better to grow immediately after a workout, study author Denise Zdzieblik says. On the other hand, if busting hunger is your goal, take satiating collagen in the morning or afternoon, depending on when you tend to get hungriest, Dr. Moyad says. Supplementing your breakfast or lunch with a dose of collagen powder (stir it into a smoothie or even water-it’s tasteless) will help take the edge off cravings.

3 Easy Ways to Get More Collagen

  • Collagen protein bars: With flavors like coconut cashew and macadamia sea salt, plus 15 grams of protein, Primal Kitchen collagen protein bars are a smart between-meal choice. ($18; primalkitchen.com)
  • Collagen water: Dirty Lemon + collagen (infused with lemon juice and cayenne) delivers 4,000 milligrams of the protein-enough to give your levels a little bump anytime. ($65 for 6; dirtylemon.com)
  • Collagen creamer: Stir a spoonful of coconut, vanilla, or gingerbread Vital Proteins collagen creamer-which contains 10 grams of collagen-into your morning coffee. ($29; vitalproteins.com)

Benefits of taking collagen

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