For the past couple months, “collagen” has been the buzzword around our office. Partly because the nutrient is the newest super ingredient taking over our Instagrams, turmeric lattes, and skincare, and everyone from your favorite beauty blogger to your bff is using it one way or another, but mostly because I simply cannot stop talking about it (On record, I would like to apologize to my coworkers for not shutting up about it). I’ve been putting collagen peptides in my smoothies and ordering collagen moisturizers from Amazon for months, and I cannot get enough of it! Let me walk you through my obsession with collagen peptide powder (hint: it has a lot more to it than just a beauty benefit).
What is collagen?
Collagen may be buzz-worthy for keeping skin wrinkle-free and glowy, but it’s actually a lot more important than for cosmetic reasons (though those reasons are important, too!). Collagen is the most abundant building block in our bodies, and makes up about 30% of the proteins in our bodies. It is the protein that is in charge of the elasticity and rejuvenation of all the connective tissues–this includes bones, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, blood vessels, the digestive system, and, you guessed it, skin. Any time you move, whether it’s a sun salutation in yoga class or sprinting to catch the bus, that’s thanks to collagen. In simpler, less scientific words, it’s basically the glue that holds your body together. Humans and animals, alike, require collagen to function.
So why do you need to take collagen supplements?
Yes, collagen is something our body makes itself. But with age, our bodies naturally begin to produce less collagen (exhibit A: wrinkles). Starting at about the age of 30 and accelerating in our 40s and 50s, skin cells become less active, bone turnover is imbalanced, and joints experience discomfort and pain, all because of a lack of collagen production. Other lifestyle factors like smoking, sun exposure, and a diet high in sugar can also deplete collagen production, regardless of age.
If preventative health reasons aren’t enough, taking extra collagen will strengthen hair, skin, and nails (and trust me when I say that taking collagen peptides is what got me to get rid of my foundation once and for all). Collagen doesn’t only assist in anti-aging; it also helps with dryness, discoloring, and even acne. Taking collagen is also said to help heal leaky gut, repair joints, and boost metabolism by adding lean muscle mass and helping absorb nutrients. Basically, collagen is the Beyoncé of supplements.
How should you take a collagen supplement?
Collagen comes in the form of either a powder or bone broth. Bone broth is an amazing source of collagen, but it is not always convenient to carry around a jug of soup (after all, we do have busy lives–we need snacks on the go, not in a bowl!). A powder is the easiest, simplest source, and a form of collagen as collagen peptides can be easily absorbed through cold or hot water. This means you can add a scoop of collagen peptides to your morning coffee or your breakfast smoothie for an amazing health boost you won’t even notice is there (that is, of course, until your skin starts glowing–you won’t be able to help but notice!).
Our body needs Vitamin C in order to fully absorb the nutrients in collagen, which is why Vitamin C is so popular in skincare–it helps the skin cells to produce more collagen, which results in glowy, dewy, and wrinkle-free skin. The same goes for your body, so try to take your supplement with foods rich in Vitamin C like kale, kiwis, lemons, or oranges.
It can be hard to choose the right supplement, because collagen powders are not all made the same. When choosing the right product, look for as few ingredients as possible. Collagen protein powder should only include collagen peptides, collagen hydrolysate, or hydrolyzed collagen. You should also avoid flavored powders (since they typically have unnecessary sugars that could upset your digestive system) and check for certification. Because the FDA doesn’t regulate many supplements, check if a credible group (like NSF or USP) has tested the product before and as always, consult your physician.