What is Collagen and Should You be Taking It?

Want to learn more about collagen and why it’s so popular among health enthusiasts? We’re breaking it down for you today by answering the following questions: What is collagen, what does collagen do and should you be taking it…

What is Collagen and Should You be Taking It?

Collagen seems to be everywhere in the health world. So what is it and what does it actually do? Great questions, let’s get to it!

What is Collagen and Should You be Taking It?

First things first, collagen is a protein. It is a major component of bones, skin, muscles, ligaments and tendons. It provides structure and support throughout your body. It’s known as the ‘glue’ that holds your body together. Your body makes it, but as you age it produces less and less quality collagen.

There are four key nutrients that help increase collagen production: vitamin C, proline, glycine, and copper. Let’s break these down:

  • You’re probably familiar with vitamin C. You can find this vitamin in a lot of bright, colorful foods: strawberries, pineapples, oranges, mangoes, brussels sprouts, kohlrabies, kiwis, papayas… the list could go on.
  • Proline is an amino acid that is found in meat (and shark cartilage, since, ya know… we all eat that).
  • Glycine is another amino acid, but it’s found in a lot of plant sources such as beans, spinach, kale, cauliflower and pumpkin. It can also be found in bone broth, meat, dairy products, poultry, eggs and fish.
  • Copper is a mineral found throughout the body. The top food sources of copper are beef liver, sunflower seeds, lentils and almonds.

Simply eating high-quality protein also helps with collagen production — it gives your body the amino acids it needs to make new proteins (like collagen!).

There are a few things that can hurt collagen production. Number one on this list is sugar. Is sugar good for anything? I’ll let you be the judge. Sugar interferes with collagen’s ability to repair itself. Red flag! The sun is second on the list of damaging factors. It can reduce collagen production within your body, so don’t forget your daily SPF! The last thing is smoking, which can also reduce collagen production.

So now you might be wondering how you can get more if your body is producing less. There are some natural food sources of collagen, however there is some speculation around whether consuming collagen-rich foods increases the collagen levels in your body. Basic science lesson for you: when you eat protein, it’s broken down into amino acids during the digestive process and then reassembled into the proteins your body needs. SO eating collagen doesn’t necessarily mean that your body is going to make collagen (and use it to help your beautiful skin). Just an FYI.

Sources of Collagen:

  • Natural food sources include bone broth and the connective tissues of animals.
  • Supplements! There are hydrolyzed collagen and gelatin (cooked collagen). You just want to make sure these supplements are coming from high-quality sources. I usually go for grass-fed bovine collagen.
  • Because collagen comes from animals, there are no plant-based sources. However, there are some plant-based supplements that are said to boost collagen production like these beauty chocolates and this blend of plant-based herbs.  I haven’t tried these products yet, but I’m intrigued.

Collagen Brands

I’m fond of the following brands: Bulletproof, Vital Proteins, Primal Kitchen and Further Food.

Container of Further Food Chocolate Collagen Peptides

I usually buy my Primal Kitchen products from Thrive Market. If you haven’t tried Thrive Market yet, it’s like Costco but for natural products, and it’s all online. I have a deal for 25% off your first order + a free 30 day trial.

What is Collagen and Should You be Taking It? Coffee with 2 Tablespoons of collagen.

Benefits of Adding Collagen into Your Diet:

There aren’t many studies on collagen supplements, but the ones that exist do show benefits! Collagen supplements are proteins broken down into smaller peptides, which are more easily absorbed. Here are some of the benefits that people have noticed:

  • Improved skin texture and hair
  • More muscle mass
  • Reduced joint pain
  • Improved leaky gut
  • Strengthened hair, teeth and nails
  • Improved liver health
  • Boosted immune system
  • Better sleep
  • More balanced blood sugar

Container of Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides

Can collagen help you lose weight?

If you change nothing else in your routine and just start taking collagen, no it will not help you lose weight. If you’re looking to support your joints and bones so you can be more active and healthy, incorporating collagen can help! In turn, if you’re more active and making healthier decisions all around, yes you’ll see weight loss. Does that make sense?

What are the side effects of collagen?

Some people experience upset stomach or feeling “full” after taking collagen supplements but there haven’t been many other reported negative side effects.

My Experience with Collagen Supplements

I’ve been hearing the buzz about collagen for quite some time now, and it seemed like everyone was slinging collagen at Expo East last year. I’ve made and enjoyed bone broth occasionally and added the hydrolyzed collagen in my coffee here and there, but this month I’m committed to having at least 2 Tablespoons of collagen powder every day — either in my coffee, water or a recipe. (I recently made some collagen protein balls, which I’ll be sharing the recipe for soon.) Overall, I’m excited about this little experiment because it’s an easy thing to add into my daily routine, and even if I don’t see any amazing skin/health benefits, at least I know I’m getting in a little extra protein each day. There’s really nothing to lose! Plus blending collagen protein powder into my morning coffee makes for such a frothy and delicious cup of joe. 

If you’re just getting started with using collagen adding it to your coffee, water or smoothie is a great place to start because it’s tasteless and blends easily into hot or cold beverages!

Want to learn more about collagen and why it's so popular among health enthusiasts? We're breaking it down for you today by answering the following questions: What is collagen, what does collagen do and should you be taking it...
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    1. Alicia
      June 10, 2020 AT 12:17 pm

      Is the Thrive deal expired? I clicked the link but it doesn’t look like anything special is being offered through it. Thank you.

      1. Brittany Mullins
        June 10, 2020 AT 3:22 pm

        I think that link was out of date! Just emailed you and updated the link.

    2. Lucy Williams
      July 15, 2019 AT 3:50 pm

      Hi, My husband is going vegan. I think he would benefit from added collagen, However, how do you convince vegans that it is ok? Thanks,

    3. viglobe
      September 17, 2018 AT 11:21 am

      I am having a question that is What happen if I drink collagen too much ?

    4. R Fox
      September 13, 2018 AT 1:47 am

      Got extreme leg/joint pain? I had shooting pain up til 2 years ago when a friend turned me onto collagen. Since then; no more pain killers, no more pain and have got the use of my leg back. Happy? You bet! If you’re over 50 with joint pain, give it a try. Takes 5-8 weeks to feel the effects but well worth it in my opinion. Half a scoop in warm water or juice first thing in the morning and you’re set. Cheers, R Fox 100 Mile House B C

    5. Janet
      February 1, 2018 AT 6:55 pm

      You mentioned there is copper in collagen. Too much copper can have bad effects on people who have thyroid issues. It can throw off the copper/zinc balance. If that is true for you, I would check further into it before taking them. Here is an article that addresses this issue.

    6. Jules
      January 22, 2018 AT 12:34 am

      I took collagen (2 scoops in powder form/day) for a few months last year and didn’t notice a difference. It’s kind of expensive so I’ve stopped taking it.

      xo Jules

    7. Jessica
      January 21, 2018 AT 9:47 pm

      My take on collagen is that while there isn’t much research to back up the health claims, it really can’t hurt. I’ve been mixing a flavorless kind into my coffee and breakfast shakes. I haven’t seen a big difference to anything, but again, it can’t hurt and it’s a nice protein boost. Thanks for the info!


    8. Amanda
      January 21, 2018 AT 5:10 pm

      Loved the info in this! I’ve been adding a tablespoon to my coffee for a while now. I do think my hair, nails and skin are healthier. H
      What’d you do to your coffee here? Looks delicious!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        January 21, 2018 AT 8:13 pm

        Hi Amanda! For my coffee I just add 2 Tablespoons of the collagen and blend it in my Vitamix until the mixture is creamy and frothy. This is how I like it best.

    9. Alice
      January 20, 2018 AT 1:42 am

      I’ve been adding 2T a day split between my oatmeal and latte for the past 9 months. Haven’t noticed anything in terms of my skin. What I have noticed is it’s much easier to get out of bed these days. I’m 69 so have just a bit of stiffness in my legs in the morning and now that’s completely gone. I stopped adding collagen for about 3 weeks and started noticing some stiffness again so got right back on it. The stiffness is once again gone. For that reason alone, it’s worth it to me.

    10. Roxanne
      January 19, 2018 AT 5:08 pm

      I’ve been doing this for about a year now, and I’m hooked! At first it makes your coffee taste a little “beefy” but now I really love the taste, haha! Love your post and I can’t wait to hear about your results!

    11. Alex Panas
      January 19, 2018 AT 3:09 pm

      I’ve been adding collagen a few times a week to my coffee. My primary goal in doing so it to up my protein intake. Although I’ve noticed that my nails have been less brittle (which is usually a huge issue for me every winter), my hair is shiny, and I haven’t had any major breakouts I can’t say with certainty that it’s solely because of the collagen. I’ve also been trying to load up on more fruits, veggies, and unprocessed foods as well as exercising more, so I think it’s a combination of everything. Regardless, I think collagen is a great way to get more out of my morning coffee. I sometimes make my own version of bulletproof coffee as a breakfast replacement on mornings where I go straight from the gym to work, it’s always filling and energizing. Looking forward to hearing your experience with collagen this month.

    12. Kim
      January 19, 2018 AT 2:14 pm

      Love your blog! Keep up the good work! I do have a question about Collagen… All the research I’ve done says it’s bunk. Collagen’s a protein, which when you digest breaks down into amino acids. Which means you just pass it and dont reap any rewards other than higher protein intake. Do you know of any research or information that would negate this? Truly interested! It can be pricey and I try to do my research first! Thanks ahead!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        January 19, 2018 AT 2:54 pm

        Hi Kim! As I mentioned in my post, there is little research to support some of the health claims, but people seem to report many of the benefits I outlined. That said, with a quick Google search I did find this study on humans and this study on mice that suggest collagen supplementation does help with aging skin. I’m excited to take the supplements for a month and see if I actually noticed a difference in my skin, nails, hair, joints, etc. I’ll be sure to report back. 🙂

    13. Michelle
      January 19, 2018 AT 1:16 pm

      I love how flavorless my Bulletproof protein is. Lately, I’ve been adding it to veggie soups. I thought two scoops would overwhelm the soup, but as long as the soup is hot enough it entirely disappears. Normally I add beans and grains to soups to get the protein up, but my husband is eating more low-carb so he doesn’t like to have soups with those in them. This way, we can eat all those veggies but get 22 grams of protein in too!

    14. Katie
      January 19, 2018 AT 1:03 pm

      I LOVE collagen! I add it to my smoothies almost every morning and love blending it in my coffee too! It’s so good!

    15. Hillary | Nutrition Nut on the Run
      January 19, 2018 AT 12:23 pm

      Just had a cup of black coffee with a scoop of Vital Proteins 🙂 I love that it’s flavorless!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        January 19, 2018 AT 2:55 pm

        We’re twinning! I had the same thing this morning, but with Bulletproof collagen.

    16. Juliette | Namastay Traveling
      January 19, 2018 AT 12:13 pm

      Thanks for sharing this! I’ve seen a lot of people start this habit up but I wasn’t totally sure what the benefits were (or how they worked!). Do you know of any vegetarian alternative for collagen? Thank you!

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