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?
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
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.
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.
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.
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 £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.