Have you noticed that nearly everyone is taking collagen supplements these days? You hear about it from your friends, your hairdresser and even your gym buddies who are all taking collagen drinks, powders or daily sachets. Perhaps that’s made you wonder whether you should be taking collagen supplements too?
Why do you need collagen?
Put simply, collagen equals strength. It’s a large molecule that clumps together in strings or sheets to form the scaffolding and glue that hold up our bones, tendons, muscles, ligaments and of course, skin, hair and nails. Ok, that does sound important.
In fact, it’s so important to our body’s health that we usually make it ourselves internally by breaking down proteins we eat or drink and reforming them to produce our own collagen.
Collagen for skin health
It’s well known that collagen supports the structure of your skin, and topping it up with collagen supplements reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, improves elasticity, radiance and overall skin health.
But it can also be used for skin conditions that are seemingly tricky to treat like eczema, acne and even cellulite! Mostly this is to do with its healing actions on the gut lining which in turn benefit the skin. Did we mention the skin and the gut are intrinsically linked?
Collagen for gut health
Less is known about collagen’s connection to the gut. While probiotics are essential for repopulating the microbiome with friendly bacteria, they won’t do much to heal a damaged gut lining. A damaged gut lining is known as leaky gut and refers to when your gut lining starts to allow unwanted particles through, stimulating an immune response. This can lead to inflammatory skin conditions like eczema and acne and many other unpleasant symptoms.
Collagen for joints and bones
Collagen, particularly type 1 collagen, is found in most connective tissue throughout your body, making up 70-80% of your ligaments, tendons, joints, muscles and 90% of your bones, skin and hair.
Connective tissue is what makes us flexible, so without enough collagen movement becomes restricted! Our collagen levels decrease with age, which explains why it's common to lose mobility as you get older.
Replenishing your collagen levels will support your flexibility and mobility by strengthening your connective tissue.
Collagen for athletes
The amino acids that make up collagen, called glycine and proline, are essential for muscle growth and maintenance. Not only do they build muscle cell structure, but they also support the connective tissue between the muscles and bones in the joints.
Those who are susceptible to sports injuries like cruciate ligament ruptures, shoulder dislocation and ACL ruptures often have variations in their type 1 collagen genes, producing a weaker type 1 collagen.
Collagen, as well as other protein types, is essential for any healing programme. Especially if you tend to suffer from the injuries listed above!
What age should you take collagen?
Here’s the problem. From about the age of 20, that production line starts to slow. Not by much at the beginning: we probably lose only 1% of collagen production every year initially; but that loss starts to speed up as we age.
By the end of menopause, or our late 50s, women will have lost over two thirds of the ability to produce collagen that they had at 20 years old. Which is one of the main reasons why skin wrinkles and sag, tendons and ligaments become less elastic, bones weaken and the joints stiffen up.
Tendon injury is one issue that women often aren’t warned about during menopause. Tendons contain high levels of oestrogen and as this naturally falls, women can suffer more strains and tears in their rotator cuffs, joints or Achilles tendons. Supporting your collagen levels from a younger age is one way to keep the cartilage stronger.
Which is the best collagen supplement?
Firstly, all collagen comes from animal sources, so if you’re vegan, there isn’t currently a collagen supplement that is going to suit you. If you’re vegetarian, you might find one from eggshell membranes, but the vast majority of collagen supplements come from either bovine (cow), porcine (pigs) or marine sources. As most collagen is found in the animal’s bones, skin and joints, consuming it from foods is not always easy or preferable, even when you include my beloved ‘bone broth’ in your diet, which again brings us back to taking a collagen supplement.
There are several different types of collagen. Over 90% of collagen in the human body is type 1, which is the main type found supporting the skin, tendons, artery walls and bones. It’s also the most important collagen type for healing any wounds as scar tissue is always made from type 1 collagen.
Marine collagen is made entirely of type 1 collagen so is often the preferred option for skin and anti-ageing.
Another issue is size. Collagen is usually a large chain or sheet of protein molecules which are difficult for us to absorb unless they have been made smaller. The best way to do this is to hydrolyse them, which means using enzymes to break down the proteins until they become small fragments that can pass easily through the gut wall. As an example, protein powders often contain collagen with a molecular size of about 70 kD. This is too big to pass through the digestive lining. The best supplements will have hydrolysed collagen with a molecular size below 10kD. This increases the absorption to around 95%.
What strength collagen should I take?
Zooki marine collagen comes from organically sourced, North Atlantic cod and each sachet contains a whopping 5,000 mg of hydrolysed, highly absorbable (and great tasting) collagen along with vitamins C and E. These are antioxidants that support the body’s own natural production of collagen as well as fighting off the free radicals that can speed up its’ destruction.
How long does it take to see results with collagen supplements?
Like most good things, the effects of taking collagen supplements are worth waiting for. You should start to see or feel a difference in your skin once you’ve been taking it consistently for 6 weeks, or perhaps earlier, as that’s the length of an entire skin cycle from the inside out.
As an easy rule of thumb though, to truly see lasting results, you should plan to take collagen 1 month for every decade of life. A 30 year old should have results in 3 months; whereas a 60 year old might need up to 6 months.
Zooki collagen is suitable for everyone, except vegans and anyone allergic to fish. Although it’s not possible to overdose in theory, we recommend that everyone sticks to either 1 or maximum 2 of the handy, portable sachets every day.
In conclusion, if you’re over 25 and concerned about ageing and strength, then adding a good collagen supplement like Collagen Zooki could definitely be a good idea.
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