I get asked a lot, what is collagen and why do I take it. So let’s dive deep into the collagen world and discover the great benefits that I’ve seen since adding collagen into my diet for the past 4 years.
The number one question I get asked all the time is, WHAT THE HECK IS COLLAGEN. So I thought it would be a great time to write a full blog post about collagen, why I take it, and the benefits that I’ve seen since regularly adding collagen into my diet for the past four years.
Let’s start from the beginning. When I first heard about collagen (about 4 years ago), I remember doing a quick google search and discovering what collagen actually was. Back then I was full vegan, so the thought of collagen was disgusting to me. I’m not even going to lie. I remember telling my boyfriend that I would never in my life take collagen because I couldn’t wrap my head around what it was made of and why people were adding it to their coffee.
Mind you, during this time I was just coming off of a super restricted diet and eating only vegan foods and hardly any carbs. I didn’t turn to veganism for any other reason than because it was the only thing that allowed me to lose weight, fast. The more I restricted the more weight I thought I could lose. You can read more about my journey here. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love animals and I truly believe veganism is great for our bodies and the environment. But through the years, I’ve learned it’s not the best thing for MY body.
However, during my recovery is when I started my blog over on Instagram. During this time, I struggled with horrible acne, most likely from the lack of nutrients that I wasn’t consuming. Vital Proteins reached out to me and offered me some collagen, the idea of it grossed me out. But after hearing about it all over social media and how it was great for your hair, skin and nails I decided to give it a try. I started adding it into my smoothies and my coffee and within a few months I started to notice a difference in my hair, skin and nails. Just as was advertised. My skin started to clear up for the first time in years, so I knew that it was working.
Now mind you, I always want to be 100% transparent and honest with you guys, during this time I also did change my diet as well. I was no longer restricting, anything at all. I was eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. So this also could have played a role in it as well. However, my nails were always so weak, and now they were strong and were able to grow longer naturally, without breaking.
So.. what exactly is collagen and what does it do?
Collagen is the most plentiful protein in your body, we are all born with it, and we all have it. Collagen in the skin provides resilience, firmness, and elasticity. It’s because we have collagen in the skin that the skin doesn’t wrinkle when we use our face muscles. You can think of it as the “glue” that holds everything in your body together.
However, around age 25 is when our bodies natural production of collagen starts to decrease. Hence why most people start taking a collagen supplement during their 20’s and even in their early teen years. There are 16 types of collagen in the body, but there are 4 main ones. I love this chart from Healthline, so I just copied and pasted below for your reference:
Here’s a closer look at the four main types of collagen and their roles in your body:
- Type I. This type accounts for 90% of your body’s collagen and is made of densely packed fibers. It provides structure to skin, bones, tendons, fibrous cartilage, connective tissue, and teeth.
- Type II. This type is made of more loosely packed fibers and found in elastic cartilage, which cushions your joints.
- Type III. This type supports the structure of muscles, organs, and arteries.
- Type IV. This type helps with filtration and is found in the layers of your skin.
As you age, your body produces less and lower quality collagen.
So this is when supplements come in
There are so many different ways that you can add collagen into your diet. You can do it naturally with the foods that you eat, or you can take a supplement (I do both). However, this is where the debate comes into play where some studies say that collagen supplements and collagen rich foods don’t actually equate to producing more collagen into your body. When you take collagen, it’s broken down into amino acids and then reassembled, so the collagen you take wouldn’t necessarily translate directly into producing higher levels of collagen in specific areas of your body. Your bodies direct it to where it needs it most. Which is why some studies say there is no way you can guarantee that you will increase the value in your hair, skin and nails.
However, there are also studies saying that they do! So, I recommend taking your best judgment here and always doing what you think is best for you! After all, we are all different and there is no one size fits all.
So let’s back up a little bit, all collagen starts off as procollagen, which your body naturally makes by combining two amino acids, glycine and proline.
You may be able to help your body produce procollagen by making sure you get plenty Vitamin C, Proline, Glycine and Copper.
- Vitamin C– citrus fruits, bell peppers, and strawberries.
- Proline– egg whites, wheat germ, dairy products, cabbage, asparagus, and mushrooms.
- Glycine -pork skin, chicken skin, and gelatin.
- Copper– organ meats, sesame seeds, cocoa powder, cashews, and lentils.
My favorite collagen powders
As I mentioned previously, I’ve been taking collagen daily for the past four years now. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to try a ton of different collagen products from many different brands. Here are my top favorites that have stuck with me through the years:
Vital Proteins is tried and true. This was the first collagen brand that I ever tried, and it was an easy choice too. They are extremely popular and can be found both online and in stores. All of VP collagen powders contain Type I & III collagen proteins (refer to chart above for reference). They also have a ton of different flavors and options to choose from, here are my top favorites!
Unflavored Collagen Peptides- This is my favorite collagen from VP. I add it to my coffee in the morning, my smoothies and even my baked goods. It’s unflavored so it doesn’t alter the taste or texture at all. I usually use this one if I’m using a sweeter creamer in my coffee.
Collagen Coconut Creamer- I use this most of the time in my coffee in the morning. It has a very subtle sweet vanilla flavor and is the perfect addition to my coffee if i’m looking for something light and easy. I usually mix it with almond milk and sometimes a splash of creamer.
Matcha Collagen- I LOVE this matcha collagen whenever I need an afternoon pick me up, or I just don’t want coffee that day. All you have to do is mix collagen with warm almond milk, I usually just throw it all together in my frother and that’s it. It’s so creamy and delicious. Feel free to add a bit of sweetener if you want.
Beef Gelatin- Now remember above, gelatin is a great source of glycine which is one of the two amino acids that make up procollagen. I love adding this gelatin to my hot coffee or mixing it in with my smoothies. You can also make jello or homemade gummies with it! It doesn’t alter the flavor or texture of whatever you’re adding it too!
Ancient Nutrition is another collagen brand that I love to use. Similar to VP, Ancient Nutrition has a ton of different flavors and options to chose from. I personally love their unflavored collagen and their vanilla collagen (which is my favorite)
Vanilla Collagen– I adore this flavor of collagen and use it in my coffee daily. It’s the perfect amount of sweetness but not over-powering. I usually mix 1-2 scoops with my almond milk in my frother. It froths nicely and has a great taste!
Now if you aren’t a powder type of person, you can also take collagen supplements. Vital Proteins has a ton of great options to choose from. I’ve tried them as well, but I personally love the powders. I simply add it to my coffee or smoothie daily and don’t feel the need to take additional supplements than that.
Consistency is Key
Now whether it’s a powder you are looking to take or a supplement, just remember consistency is key. That goes for everything in life. I’ve been taking my collagen powders every single day for the past four years and I’ve personally noticed a difference in my hair, skin and nails.
I have felt that my skin is more dewier, has more elasticity and just overall feels so much better. My hair as well, although I still struggle with my hair falling out from time to time, I do think the collagen helps with the overall growth. And lastly, my nails are so much stronger. I’ve never been able to grow my nails out, but since taking collagen and up keeping them, they are stronger, longer and all natural baby!
In the end, we all need to do what we think it’s best for ourselves and our own body. If you think collagen works for you, then great! Keep on taking it, there’s no reason to stop. If you have tried collagen and never noticed a difference, then that’s okay too. Maybe it’s just not for you!
I hope this helped! If you still have questions, shoot me a comment below, send me an email for write to me on Instagram. I’m always here to answer any questions you may have!
with love always,