Collagen is an important part of your skin health. It’s in the lower layers of skin and helps to sustain the flexibility. When you have good levels of collagen, your skin remains as an elastic band. It returns to its normal shape easily. As your collagen production decreases, the skin will start to tear. You’re more likely to scar or see stretch marks forming.
There are all types of reasons for collagen production to decrease. Lack of nutrition and age are two of the most common reasons. The good news is you can help boost that collagen production through natural and over the counter supplements. If your collagen production is extremely low, you can also get prescribed supplements for your skin.
Before you even consider collagen supplements, you need to know all about them. This is your all-in-one guide to collagen supplements and buying them.
Know the Type of Collagen You Need
While collagen is a common word used, many people overlook the fact that there are three types of dietary collagen through supplements and natural remedies. You’ll need to know the type of collagen you need. This can require some tests or a talk with your doctor/dermatologist.
Don’t overlook this important part of getting the right supplements for your need. Improving the collagen in one part of your body isn’t going to help the collagen production in another part. You may not get over all your ailments and conditions because you have the wrong type of supplements.
We’ve already talked about the collagen in your skin. This is just the first of three types and the collagen that makes up 90% of your bones, ligaments, hair, skin, nails, and organs. It’s the one that you most likely think about, especially when it comes to stretch marks, scarring, and other blemishes on the skin.
However, the other 10% of the bones, ligaments, and other connective tissues is made up of the third type of collagen. This is important as it helps to build the fibrous tissue within the body, needed for strength and support.
That second type that we’ve jumped over is the collagen within your cartilage. This is often the most overlooked and assumed to be part of the third type. Your cartilage is on your joints and can lead to issues such as arthritis and joint pain when the production drops.
When it comes to anti-aging and beauty, you’ll want to focus more on the first type of collagen. Studies show that when you increase the amount of this type of collagen in your body, you will naturally see an increase in the other types of collagen. You’ll find the majority of supplements will focus on this type the most. If you need something for the other types, talk to your doctor about the best options available.
Know the Best Sources of Collagen
You don’t necessarily need to take collagen supplements. Before you take anything pharmaceutical, look at the natural options to boost the levels of collagen in your body. There are four main natural sources of collagen: pig, cow, chicken, and fish. Think about all the animal products that have large amounts of protein in them.
Fish is one of the best sources for collagen. It’s the healthiest, safest, and lowest in calories. Our bodies also find it very easy to absorb and use the collagen that it gains. There’s no need to look for oily fish, either. You can get collagen from all types of marine foods you eat, including shellfish and white fish. Of course, oily fish is good for the Omega 3 fatty acids. When opting for fish, limit your portions to two a week.
After that, you’ll want to look chicken sources for your natural collagen. Chicken, especially without the skin, has the least amount of unhealthy fat out of the three cheaper sources. It’s full of lean protein, which helps to support the muscles and the whole body (not just the collagen production. The type of collagen is mostly the second type to help support the cartilage. It’s not as good for hair, skin, and nails.
If you need to keep the costs down, then pig and cow are options. Look out for where the animals come from. Unfortunately, a lot of slaughterhouses will use inhumane methods of killing and antibiotics in their animals. Antibiotics and other chemicals taint the quality of the collagen and are passed to you when you eat them.
Most over the counter collagen supplements will include one or more of these natural sources. Supplements from China will usually include extra unnatural ingredients as there are looser controls over manufacturing and standards. Japanese supplements are among the best for their sources, especially when it comes to environmentally-friendly caught fish.
The majority of over the counter collagen supplements will use either cow or pig. If you need to consider one or the other for your religious beliefs, you will want to find out based on the ingredients and the brand.
Don’t Forget About the Supporting Nutrients
Getting collagen through supplements isn’t enough. Your body needs to be able to absorb and synthesis the collagen for effective use. This means you need to consider the supporting nutrients for this.
Vitamin C is often considered the nutrient for boosting the immune system. While it does do that, it is also important for synthesizing collagen—natural and unnatural. Your body can’t create this naturally or store it, so you will need to take vitamin C supplements or get it naturally when you use it. Another option is to apply vitamin C to your skin to help with the collagen production within your skin, hair, and nails.
You can get vitamin C from many fruits and vegetables. Orange, yellow, and red fruits and vegetables are the best, but cruciferous and dark leafy greens are also excellent sources. Watch out for juices, as they are also high in sugar causing problems for your overall health.
Another supplement to consider is hyaluronic acid. This is something you want to get through your cleansers, toners, and facial masks. Not only does the acid help to boost collagen production, but it helps to brighten and smooth the face. The acid helps with balancing the production of natural oils, creating a more hydrated and fuller complexion.
There is no definite need to include any other ingredients. While some dermatologists will suggest glucosamine, arginine, and other similar ingredients, there are no studies suggest that they help the body absorb more of the collagen from supplements or natural sources. Don’t worry if you can’t fit them into your daily routine.
Avoid Damaging Ingredients
Look out for any collagen supplements that include sugars, artificial ingredients, oils, and unnecessary additions. Some of the ingredients are used to prevent bacteria growing in the supplements and to extend shelf life. Other ingredients are used to help grow more crops and make them larger, increasing profit. However, they are all damaging to the skin.
When collagen supplements include unnatural products, they can lead to sugar spikes, hormone imbalances, and affects the organs. The body doesn’t absorb all the collagen effectively, meaning that the production doesn’t increase in the way that it should. You run the risk of more signs of aging showing through, outweighing some of the good that the collagen supplements should be doing.
Make your judgement by looking at the actual ingredients. If you can’t pronounce anything or you see “fragrance” anywhere on topical treatments, avoid them. Chances are they’re full of toxic ingredients that hinder the body’s ability to use them properly.
It’s also worth watching out for branched-chain amino acids. They can be good for muscle recovery after trauma, but they don’t help to boost overall collagen to aid the skin, hair, and nails. However, you may need to include some of the amino acids for your muscular health. This is something to discuss with your doctor, rather than avoiding them completely.
The Best Way to Ingest Collagen Supplements
Should you get a powder form of supplements or will a pill be better? What about getting your supplements naturally?
The truth is each of the methods of taking supplements has its pros and cons. Some methods will help you absorb more collagen in a shorter amount of time, but others are far easier to take.
Let’s look at the supplement pills. They are certainly easy to take. You just pop a couple on a daily basis, as if you’re taking painkillers or other medication. Chances are nobody will ask you about them. You don’t even need to allow others to see you take them if you’re worried about questions about your supplements. All you need is some water to help swallow them quickly.
The downside of the pills is they’re not always as effective. Gel coated options are better for breaking down and absorbing all the benefits, but they tend to be more expensive.Most pills have less collagen then other forms of supplements, meaning you need to take more to get the same effect.
If you want a highly effective method, you want your supplements in liquid form. This can be as a drink or as a powder that you add to drinks. Liquid forms of any supplements and medications highly increase the absorption rate, as the liquids can easily get through linings of the stomach and intestines. They have already been pre-digested, so it’s easier on the body.
Powders aren’t as effective as pure liquids. While they are more effective than pills, there is still some element of digestion needed to absorb them fully.
You may worry about what people think. The good news is collagen powders can be added to your normal smoothies and shakes. Think of it as a protein supplement. Your colleagues and family won’t think anything of the addition, usually if you’re adding protein powder to your drinks instead.
Cow collagen supplements in drink form will taste strong. You will likely need to add some sweetener (naturally is best for your health) to help take some of the taste away.
The drinks are the most expensive forms of collagen supplements around. This is due to the highly effective nature but higher costs in production. If you want something effective but affordable, powders are the best options.
Remember that sugar can reduce the effectiveness of your collagen. If you are going to add something sweet to your drink, avoid refined sugars. Natural sugars in fruit smoothies (rather than juices) are good as they don’t metabolize in the bloodstream as quickly. Do watch out for some of the artificial sweeteners, especially aspartame. Many of the artificial sweeteners have been proven to cause health problems.
Finding the Right Collagen Supplement for You
We’re all different. We like different tastes and have different lifestyles, which will all affect the method of taking and using collagen supplements.
If you can’t use cow or pig due to religious needs, you’ll want to consider fish sources for your hair, skin, and nail health. Chicken is mostly beneficial for cartilage collagen production. Fish is widely one of the best, but it is also the most expensive of the lot. If it’s out of your budget, then you will be best considering pig or cow over chicken for overall collagen increase.
As for pills and powders, this will depend on financial constraints. Ready-made liquids are among the best options but are understandably more expensive and out of price ranges for many people. Powders are usually the best for lower budgets but high effective rates.
Whatever type of collagen supplement you buy, make sure you look at additional nutrients. Avoid artificial ingredients as much as possible. They prevent the body from fully absorbing all the collagen supplement, meaning the products aren’t as effective as they could be. Natural ingredients, especially vitamin C and hyaluronic acid, are worth considering.
You may not need collagen supplements. Talk to your doctor or dermatologist to find out what you need for your health.