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Collagen: What Happens When You Take It?

Hype, Hurt, Or Help?

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With collagen supplement sales in the United States reaching almost $300 million, many people are buying into the idea that collagen will benefit them, but is it all just hype? And, are there potential negative health effects from consuming collagen that you should know about?

What Is Collagen

So, what is collagen anyway? Well, Collagen is a type of protein found in meat, poultry, fish, egg whites, gelatin, stock and bone broth…and it helps hold the body’s tissues together. The more we have, the healthier, and thicker our tissues are—we look younger and our joints are more flexible. The less collagen we have, the more wrinkles and sagging and joint pain we have. As we age, we make less collagen but we do continue to still make some.

The key then, is to keep collagen stimulated so it can continue to do its job. And the promise of looking and feeling younger is why people are taking collagen…..the powders and pills are meant to bring collagen back into our bodies and stimulate the production of more collagen.

But if you take collagen will it produce more collagen in your body?

Most scientific authorities suggest that collagen is simply collagen, no matter the source. So here is the way I explain it:  collagen is like other kinds of protein in the diet. The chicken breast you eat doesn’t have a preassigned destination in the body. When the body breaks it down to its simplest forms of a collection of amino acids, those amino acids go where they’re needed at the moment. When you consume collagen, you are giving your body amino acids and your body decides what to do with those amino acids.

Those who believe in collagen supplementation suggest that to build collagen, you need to make sure you are consuming enough of the specific amino acids that support collagen production and that these amino acids can be found in collagen peptides (this is collagen that has undergone processing to create the breakdown of its strands making it more digestible). You certainly don’t need special collagen powders or supplements to get those amino acids, even if you eat primarily a plant-based diet.

To be thorough, a few research studies suggest that collagen holds some promise as a joint rebuilding supplement and is shown to support healthier, younger-looking skin.

Rheumatol Ther, Dec 2020 Exp Ther Med, Jul 2020

But here is the interesting thing: Without adequate protein and vitamin C and other plant-based nutrients, collagen levels won’t be optimized. In fact, the Collagen studies that included additional antioxidants were the most promising, indicating a key to anti-aging involves adequate antioxidants, which can only be found in fruits and vegetables.

Collagen Concerns

In a world of unregulated dietary supplements, some risk of contamination exists. The FDA has had to recall several leading collagen supplements on the market. For example,

Gelatin-based collagen supplements, sourced from animal hooves and hides, may carry a virus leading to aserious disease., Mar 2016

The heavy metal mercury has been found in collagen derived from marine animals, and can provoke autoimmune and inflammatory disorders.

Front Med, Jul 2019

Remember that heavy metals accumulate over time and Since collagen is something that you need to take on an ongoing basis if you desire to see benefits, the risk of cumulative heavy metals is very possible., May 2020

Collagen supplementation is not a good idea if you have a history of certain illnesses like kidney stones, anxiety, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis as examples. There are many other illnesses or conditions that are negatively impacted by collagen, including links to certain kinds of cancer….and so if you want to dive deep into this subject, when you order your own personalized nutrition plan, you’ll gain access to a special bonus report on collagen.

So then, how can we set our bodies up to maximize collagen formation if we don’t want to take a collagen supplement? Well, you can do that by eating enough protein and antioxidants and discouraging inflammatory foods that are high in saturated fat and refined sugars. For example, green tea has been shown to increase collagen levels in the skin, providing anti-wrinkle and whitening benefits.

Food Funct, Issue 7, 2021

The best way to keep collagen intact is to eat tons of plant-based antioxidants. The dietitians at CNIQ know that it can be challenging to consume enough plants every day, so we have selected the most science-based plant powders that contribute a ton of plant-based antioxidants. It’s just an easy, no brainer way to give your body what it needs to keep that collagen intact!

Watch the video if you prefer.

In this video, learn why people are so enamored by collagen these days, understand what collagen is and isn’t, and hear the science behind how collagen works in the body, and why it might not be the best choice for you. Natural, plant-based alternatives to collagen are offered by a registered dietitian.

0:00 Popularity Of Collagen Supplements

0:50 What Is Collagen?

2:35 How Does Collagen Work In The Body?

3:00 If You Consume Collagen, Will You Make Collagen?

4:14 Warnings For Collagen Supplements

5:45 Natural Support For Collagen Stores

7:04 About Our Personalized Nutrition Plans

Links to plant-based options discussed in this video:

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