Is Collagen worth it?

Is anyone happy to get older? I personally don't enjoy seeing new wrinkles, cellulite or sagging skin and the answer to the fountain of youth is still unknown. I know I myself have been tempted by the claims of potions, serums and anti-ageing supplements. You question whether it’s worth it and how good they are for you anyway? Believe me, it's a multi-billion dollar industry!

I've been a Clinical Nutritionist now for almost 9 years and I know that we become what we eat - literally, the food you put in your mouth creates cells and tissue. Did you know the skin cells renew themselves approximately every 27 days? As your skin is your largest organ and the main protection against environmental pollutants it’s important it stays healthy. The most obvious things we should watch out for are: sugar, alcohol, refined carbs, vegetables oils, fried foods, processed meats and pretty much packaged and processed foods. A whole food nutrient dense diet is imperative.

In this blog however I specifically want to discuss collagen. I write this with personal experience and testimony using collagen off and on for the last five plus or so years.

So what is it?....Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body and is found in muscles, tendons, bones and skin. It is what holds the body together to provide strength and structure. We lose it as we age and it is essential to maintaining good overall health and preserving youth and slowing down the signs of ageing skin. I have read over and over again and heard personal testimony how collagen has helped increase skin elasticity and improve skin moisture, (very beneficial if you’re in peri-menopause, menopause or post menopause). My uncle in fact testifies to it helping with joint pain as he likes to speed walk daily. Others have claimed it has helped their arthritis when caused by wear and tear on the joints, (osteo).

What else can collagen do? Some potential benefits internally can be: reduced joint pain, stronger bones, decreased muscle loss, increased energy levels, optimized exercise performance, increased skin elasticity/smoother skin and improved immune function. Sounds pretty fantastic, doesn't it?

Not all collagens are going to give you optimal results however. The first thing I look for is whether it is hydrolyzed as this means it is already broken down into smaller peptides which makes for easier absorption. I look at what other ingredients are in the supplement and always want one with Vitamin C, and if not I take Vitamin C with the collagen as it aids collagen absorption. I also really don't like any odour or taste accompanied with my collagen powders, (another reason to look at capsules and my favourite capsule they recently stopped making ;-(). However, many powders come without much of an odour or taste. You also want to look out for any artificial ingredients/sweeteners/fillers or additives of any kind, (if you can't pronounce or recognise it as an ingredient then best to avoid it). Lastly, if a reputable source recommends it, like a dermatologist, then I usually have found it's a quality supplement - you don't want to skimp on this one.

So, how do you take it? Well, I take it in a powder in my smoothies, or you can just add it to some juice or water, (beware if using water some collagen powders are aboslutely ghastly to the taste)! I like 'Great Lakes Collagen Hydrolysate." It's grass fed and pasture raised beef collagen, and won't break the bank at around $65 for 500 grams. It also contains amino acids, (proteins) to help build and repair muscles and tissue. Hydrolyzed means it will quickly assimilate into the body and not congeal like some collagen powders. I find all this an added bonus teaching fitness classes as after 15 years my knees have played up on me, but taking collagen truly helps support the cartilage and I don't get knee niggles when on it - bonus! I also really like Garden of Life collagen peptides as it contains Type 1 and 3 collagen (20 grams - what you want in a serving) in addition to some probiotics. Warning, this one doesn't taste too great, so you want to disguise the flavour somehow. Vital Proteins is another fav and they do this one unflavoured, (all found on iherb).

I recognise when I haven't taken collagen in a while, and sometimes I do stop taking it for no real reason. Once I start again, I notice a bit of glow to my skin, (better hydration) and just a smoother complexion. It's definitely worth investing in one and trying to take it daily, not just for its anti-ageing benefits but also for muscular and bone health. So, bottoms up for a fabulous anti-ageing supplement!