The different types of collagen and the benefits of taking a collagen supplement
I don't know many people who would say 'no' if you asked them if they would like improve their hair, skin and nails, so I am really pleased to be able to write an article where I can recommend something that I think does all three!
My hair has always been quite fine, although I have a reasonable amount of it, but since chemotherapy (when I lost the lot!) I have been keen to do all I can to keep it strong and healthy.
The same with my skin because as I get older my skin gets drier and more wrinkles appear. A good natural skin care regime is obviously very important but I don't want to go down the route of botox and filler injections so what to do?
What causes wrinkles and sagging skin?
You can't stop your skin ageing, it is a natural process, but there are things that you can do to help slow the process down and improve the elasticity, plumpness and smoothness of the skin.
Environmental issues such as sun and UV light age skin fast so make sure you wear sunscreen on a daily basis or use a moisturiser or foundation with SPF in it.
If you smoke or vape, stop. Smoking causes premature ageing of the skin, causing wrinkles and a dull texture and complexion due to the inhibition of the circulation. You are literally starving your skin of oxygen. Smoking breaks down the elastin and collagen, basically the scaffolding structure that holds your skin up, and this causes sagging and wrinkles to appear.
Make sure there are plenty of healthy fats in your diet such as avocados, nuts, seeds and oily fish such as salmon.
Cook with olive oil or coconut oil
Drink plenty of water and don't binge on alcohol
Remove your makeup every night and have a good skincare regime
exfoliate on a regular basis - see Benefits of Exfoliating and Recommended Products.
What is collagen?
Collagen is our most abundant protein, it forms much of our body including our skin, muscles, tendons and bones. About 80% of our skin is collagen so you can see how important it is to the whole body! We start to lose collagen slowly from our twenties onwards, so that by the time we reach our fifties we can have lost up to a third of it. This leads to a loss of skin elasticity, wrinkles and sagging (sorry to anyone reading this under the age of fifty but there you have it).
Collagen also helps protect our joints too so when our collagen levels drop they can start to creak and ache so it makes sense to think about taking some form of collagen supplement. There are a lot of supplements out there and I know from years of experience that you get what you pay for.
What are the different types of collagen?
As yet there is no scientific agreement on how many collagens there are, some say 16 and others up to 28 apparently or even more. 80% of the collagen in the body is made up of types I, II and III. There are another two important collagens for the body, V and X however they appear in smaller quantities.
wound healing, skin elasticity, fine lines and wrinkles, hair and nails
eggs, bone broth, beef and fish
gut lining, joint cartilage and connective tissues
bone broth, chicken
gut healing, muscles, intestines, skin and blood vessels
beef, bone broth and fish
development of collagen and eye health
joints and bone health
chicken and egg shell membrane
What is the best form of collagen to take?
You can take collagen in drink, gel, tablet, capsule or powder form but whichever method you use just make sure that the product is a hydrolysed form of collagen.
Best collagen support for sagging skin
The best collagen support for sagging skin would be a hydrolysed marine collagen.
What is hydrolysed collagen?
Hydrolysed collagen means that the collagen itself has been broken down into micro-particles so that it can be more easily absorbed by the body.
Marine collagen vs bovine collagen
There are a lot of collagen supplements available and they are mostly made from either bovine or marine sources however it is the marine collagen that is supposed to be the most effective for improving skin tone and texture. It is said to give a youthful plumpness and a dewy complexion as well as nourishing the hair follicles and promoting joint flexibility and bone strength. There are also claims that it can boost metabolism, reduce inflammation and support weight management as well. If you are primarily looking for a boost for skin, hair and nails, then look for a hydrolyzed marine collagen.
Bovine collagen, such as those found in bone broth powder has different nutrients to marine collagen that are beneficial to the skin, as well as gut health and joints. It also contains the lipid alkylglycerol which has been said to have immune supporting properties.
How to boost collagen naturally
There is also strong evidence that combining collagen with vitamin C (which is also capable of increasing collagen production in the skin whilst helping to protect against sun damage and improving immunity) can enhance the potency of a collagen supplement. If you are going to take a vitamin C supplement I recommend that you take a high quality food state one such as Cherry C from Cytoplan. Eggs are also said to boost collagen production as they contain an amino acid called proline which the body requires to produce collagen.
Instead of taking lots of vitamins every day you could just look at taking a whey or vegan protein shake that was specifically designed for women with selected added vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C. Take a look at the BOXD whey and vegan protein shake review.
Starting collagen supplements
I decided to run an experiment to see how much I could improve my skin, hair, nails and muscle flexibility by using collagen and vitamin c supplements.
I first needed to create a supplement list. First up was my collagen supplement. I then added a natural vitamin C supplement to boost the potency of the collagen and I then added in a quality bone broth powder.
Finally, I also wanted to increase my intake of good fats, in particular MCT's or medium chain triglycerides which are a rich source of healthy fats and are rapidly digested and absorbed providing a feeling of fullness that can carry you through the day helping you avoid sugary snacks for energy. So with the MCT oil added, that was my complete supplement list for the experiment.
Your health is an investment not an expense
A decent supplement can be expensive. It is always tempting to reach for the cheapest product you can find but you have to weight up why it is cheaper. I have done extensive research to sort out a decent set of supplements and I'll explain below why I selected the products that I have. My priorities are staying strong and healthy and trying to ensure that my energy and health are at optimum levels so that I can live life at full blast.
After much research the brands I selected for my chosen four supplements were as follows:
*Correxiko marine collagen powder - £19.99 141.7g/£39.99 425.2g (*see update 2021 on newly tested collagen products below)
Clean & Pure ultra clean bone broth powder - approx £20 - £25 for 400g
Hunter & Gather MCT oil - £14.99 for 500ml
Cytoplan Cherry C (a wholefood supplement made from whole acerola cherries) from £16.70
Reasons for Supplement Brand Selection
Correxiko marine collagen powder - A lot of the marine collagen powders come from farmed fish (although they don't always say that on the label so look for a company that actually states that it is not from farmed fish).
Correxiko's marine collagen is sourced from wild-caught deep sea fish (cod, haddock and pollock) from clean Canadian waters and is therefore free from hormones, antibiotics and GMO feed. They also use the fish skin and not the fish scale. It smells of nothing and there is no fishy taste.
Clean & Pure Ultra Clean Bone Broth Powder - A high quality product from Swedish grass fed beef containing twenty amino acids including chondroitin sulfate (good for bones and cartilage) and hyaluronic acid (great for the synovial fluid which cushion your joints). It also supports gut health and skin and is proven to be free from pesticides, vet medicines and growth hormones. The bones are slow cooked for forty eight hours to release the nutrients in the bone and marrow before the liquid is dried to a concentrated powder form.
Hunter & Gather MCT Oil - A rich source of rapidly digested healthy fats (medium chain triglycerides) which help support brain health and energy. This is 100% coconut (sourced from hand picked and sustainably harvested coconuts) and contains no seed oils or palm oil, is hexane (a chemical often used to extract oils) and solvent free.
Cytoplan Cherry C - Cytoplan is a science based supplement company who believe that supplements are most beneficial when presented to the body in the same form as in food, so called 'food state and wholefood 'nutrients' and are designed for optimal absorption by the body.
I usually try and eat a berry compote as part of my breakfast to get a natural hit of vitamin C but if I'm having something else then I'll supplement with Cytoplan Cherry C.
Because I hate all the faff of having to take different powders and capsules, I make it really easy by blending the two collagen powders and the MCT oil into a coffee first thing in the morning and taking the Cytoplan vitamin C with it. Basically, my morning collagen coffee routine.
How to make a collagen coffee
Make a good quality coffee (I use a cafetiere ). Pour the coffee into a blending jug or liquidiser. Then add two tablespoons each of Correxiko marine collagen powder and Clean & Pure ultra clean bone broth powder and one tablespoon of MCT oil. (MCT oil can act as a laxative in some people so I suggest you start with a teaspoon for the first week, then increase by a teaspoon a week until you reach a tablespoon).
Blend the mixture on high for about 20 seconds and it will look nice and frothy!
Then drink! When cool enough take your Cytoplan vitamin C as well. Job done.
How long does it take for collagen supplements to work?
About 3 - 4 weeks to notice small changes in the skin. I have been having my collagen coffee every morning now for three months. I started to notice a difference in my skin after about a month. It was very subtle but there was definitely a difference. Slightly plumper, better tone and texture and somehow altogether more healthy looking.
Collagen benefits for skin
The improvements in my skin continued, slowly but noticeably and now, at the end of over three months, my skin is in a much better condition, both skin tone and elasticity. My wrinkles are much shallower, with most noticeable improvements in the naso-labial folds (the ones from the sides of your nose down to the side of the mouth) and the marionette lines (sides of mouth downwards). They are most definitely less deep.
If you suffer from cold sores you might be interested in the article on Home remedies for cold sores.
Collagen benefits for hair
My hair has been growing a lot faster. I have short hair but am having to have it cut 2 weeks earlier than normal to keep the shape because it seems to be growing so fast. The hair that is coming through also seems to be thicker and in better condition.
Collagen benefits for nails
My nails have been growing quickly. I do use a unique method for encouraging nails to grow fast but the supplements in the collagen coffee seem to have made them grow even faster. I like to keep my nails quite short (squoval shaped) but I am having to file them back every other week.
Collagen benefits for the body
I think I am getting less muscle stress from exercise and healing faster on any cuts and scratches I get too, although it's most likely the vitamin C that will be helping with the wound healing.
My whole body flexibility is good. I have actually been doing less stretching exercises recently but have managed to retain my flexibility so maybe it has helped. The MCT oil in the collagen coffee did fill me up nicely too so if I am in a rush and have to miss breakfast or want to do an intermittent fast then I'm fine until late morning. I have also found if I get hungry and don't have much time, then a collagen coffee fills me up nicely and is much healthier than reaching for a sugary snack.
I also feel that I have had a small energy boost and enhanced mental clarity and that could be down to the MCT oil.
Overall review of collagen supplements
I was quite careful not to change my normal diet during the experiment and although this was not a scientific experiment because I can't actually physically measure the improvements I think I am seeing, the benefits of collagen coffee and Cytoplan vitamin C substantial enough for me to carry on with my morning routine.
Are the benefits that I think I see from collagen coffee all in the mind? Well, if it is a placebo effect then I don't care, I think I look better and that makes me feel happy and more confident so that's all that matters!
If you've ever suffered from a retinol skin burn then check out the article How to Heal a Retinol Skin Burn.
* Update 2021 - New Collagen Products Tested
I have also been testing other collagen products for some months now:
Review - wild caught marine collage by Miracle Greens
This is an excellent quality collagen powder, sourced from the North Sea, hydrolysed for better absorption, does not use skin, scales or farmed fish and is lab tested in UK. I get the same results with this product as the Correxiko collagen but the Miracle Greens marine collagen is cheaper (£24.99 for 400g) than the Correxiko product.
Review - Revive Natural multi collagen protein (types I, II, III, V and X)
Although 80% of body collagen is made up of types I, II and II, I was interested in trying out a product with types V and X as well. I found a multi collagen powder from Revive Naturals that is 100% hydrolysed grass-fed bovine collagen peptides, hydrolysed wild fish collagen peptides, hydrolysed free range chicken avian sternum collagen and eggshell membrane collagen.
It comes with a 20g scoop and you use 1 - 2 scoops a day and I am trying it in place of the marine collagen and bone broth powder in my morning collagen coffee. I have mixed it in with yoghurt with no problem as well.
I am currently on my 2nd month with Revive Natural collagen and really like it. I can't say that it has made any huge difference to using the two different products (marine collagen and bone broth powder) but it's a lot easier just to use one lot of collagen. It will be interesting to see how I do on it as the weather starts to turn colder and the muscles and joints get prone to tightening when I am outside walking. Watch this space! Revive Natural multi collagen protein costs £24.99 for a 400g tub.
Do collagen supplements work?
Yes, if you take a good quality hydrolysed product you will start to see results in 1 - 3 months.
Supplementing collagen - 2021 update
I'm still going with the collagen coffee but have noticed a couple of extra benefits:
Does collagen help eyebrows grow?
Yes! It would appear that the collagen supplements that I have been taking (see above) have made my eyebrows thicker! Not massively thicker or anything, but definitely less sparse, which is something than can happen as you get older. I can't be 100% sure that I can attribute this to the collagen coffee but I have not been taking or using anything else and the timing is about right. Needless to say I'm delighted! This effect took a little longer to notice so either it needs a longer period of taking collagen to work, or it is the type V and X collagen that I am now taking in the Revive Natural collagen powder.
Does collagen help with flexibility?
Despite the damp weather and a lot of dog walking up hill and down dale my muscles are not tight and I feel quite flexible and I'm definitely a lot more 'flowing' in my movements. Again, I can't pin this directly on the collagen supplements and the only way to really test this would be to come off the collagen!
I'm really impressed with the collagen, MCT oil and vitamin C combo and will continue to take it as as far as I am concerned, there are a lot of benefits for me personally. If you are looking to improve your skin, hair, nails and possibly your eyebrows too then I thoroughly recommend a hydrolysed collagen supplement. I think it could also help some people with muscle flexibility and joint pain.
It has to be said that no matter what supplements you take, they are just that, supplements. You need to look at what you are eating on a daily basis if you have any serious health or skincare issues you need to address.
If you are interested in premium brand perfumes at a fraction of the price, then read my article on The Top UK Copy Perfume Companies!
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