Celebrity trainer and co-founder of Beauty Food, Libby Babet, gives us the rundown on what collagen ~really~ is and what type of collagen you should be taking for different health benefits – from minimising wrinkles to treating joint pain.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. It’s found in your hair, your skin, your nails; and is the main protein in your connective tissue – which basically connects your whole body.
Once you get to 25 years old your collagen production starts to reduce, which is why young people have bouncy, full skin; and as you get older, your skin seems less elastic. This is the same with the collagen that helps your hair and nails stay healthy, and the collagen that keeps your joints and tendons strong and supple.
So, the more you can boost your collagen levels, the younger you will look and feel. While the research is still in its infancy, there are plenty of studies that suggest consuming collagen supplements can help you increase your body’s collagen levels.
In fact, I was so impressed with the research, I launched my own collagen snack product Beauty Food!
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What types of collagen are there?
Drinking bone broth is one way to increase your collagen intake. But more recently, we’ve also seen a lot of collagen powders and snack bars become available – making consuming collagen more convenient. There are twenty-eight known types of collagen, but as far as supplementation goes, let’s look at the four important ones:
Type I Collagen
Best known for: Anti-aging properties including minimising wrinkles and improving the skin’s health and hydration. One study also suggested it reduced the prevalence of cellulite.
- Marine collagen (ideally sustainably-sourced; and be wary of crustacean and shellfish ingredients – as they are common allergens). This is what we use in our Bioactive Marine Collagen Powder.
- Bovine collagen (ideally grass-fed; as while there is no evidence that grass-fed animals produce a superior collagen product to grain-fed, grass-fed is significantly better for the animal and the planet). This is what we use in our collagen cookies and nut butter.
- Protein-rich foods, like fish and beef
- Bone broth (considered to not be as easily absorbed as other collagen sources)
Type II Collagen
Best known for: Treating joint pain and promoting joint health.
- Bone broth
- Chicken collagen
- Protein-rich foods, like chicken
Type III Collagen
Best known for: Some say it aids intestinal health, but the studies don’t yet agree. There is evidence it can enhance exercise performance and building muscle.
- Bovine collagen
- Protein-rich foods, like beef and fish
- Bone broth
Type IV Collagen
Best known for: Improving wound healing and assisting the forming of embryos. (This type type of collagen is difficult to find in supplement form.)
- Egg whites
- Other protein-rich foods
Is there any such thing as vegan collagen?
For those following a vegan diet, please note that collagen comes from animals. There are plenty of vegan ‘collagen’ products out there that claim to support collagen production; but they don’t actually contain collagen, and the science just isn’t there to support the claimed health benefits.
For those who aren’t strict vegans, I do have many plant-based friends who consume collagen for its health benefits instead of meat.
What else should I know about collagen?
When you’re consuming collagen the number one rule is to avoid combining it with sugar. Sugar competes with Vitamin C, which is important for collagen absorption. That’s why the whole Beauty Food range is low sugar and infused with Vitamin C.
Other supplements and nutrients that have been shown to aid collagen synthesis:
- Glycine (found in pork and chicken skin)
- Proline (found in dairy, cabbage, asparagus and mushrooms)
- Copper (found in sesame seeds, cocoa, cashews and lentils)
- Zinc (found in shellfish, chickpeas, lentils, dairy and eggs)
How much collagen should I take?
Most of the research is based on 2.5g to 5g of collagen per day, with slightly better results at 5g (and no significant increase for higher levels than that). Many companies have only a small amount of collagen in their ‘collagen’ products (because hey, it’s the most expensive ingredient) and try to hide this by quoting in milligrams. For example, 1500mg of collagen is 1.5g – and is not considered a adequate serve based on the research.
Libby Babet is a celebrity fitness trainer, who founded Agoga gym, BUF Girls, Eat Like A Chief and The Upbeat dance studio and was a trainer for Ten’s The Biggest Loser. She is also the co-founder of Beauty Food with nutritionist Veronika Larisova.