If you spend time with athletes or follow health and wellness enthusiasts on social media, you’ve likely heard about collagen and its many benefits. You know that bone broth is an excellent collagen source, and drinking it from a pouch is a growing fad, but it certainly isn’t for everyone. Even if you use bone broth for cooking, there are only so many ways you can use it, especially during the summer when you don’t feel like hot soup.
If that’s the case, the simplest way to increase your collagen intake and boost natural collagen synthesis may be by taking supplements; and there’s no shortage of vendors claiming to offer the best collagen powder or capsules. The supplement market is tricky to navigate, with many vendors promising more than they deliver. But many people find high-quality collagen supplements effective and well worth the price. If you’re curious and want to know what collagen can do for you, you’ll want to do a little research before trying any products.
What is Collagen?
What is collagen and why is it so popular? Collagen is a type of protein that gives structure to connective tissues around the body, including skin, ligaments, tendons, and muscles. It constitutes about one-third of the human body’s protein, making it essential to many bodily functions.
While the body makes collagen on its own by breaking down dietary protein, you can boost your intake by eating protein-dense foods. The body also produces less collagen as you age, so eating with collagen in mind or taking collagen supplements can help make up the benefit.
Increasing collagen intake has many potential benefits, including reducing inflammation and pain associated with arthritis, speeding up the healing process, aiding in digestion, and providing benefits for your skin, hair, and nails.
Taking collagen supplements is a popular route because it’s a way to get a concentrated collagen dose without changing your diet. To get the maximum benefit from taking collagen supplements, you should look at a few key factors before selecting a specific brand or product.
Before picking a collagen supplement, it’s important to look into how it’s produced. Many collagen supplements, especially the lower-cost options made by lesser-known brands, are heavily processed. Overprocessing supplements often means reducing the nutrient’s natural impact or the addition of fillers.
That doesn’t mean all processing is bad. If you see the term “hydrolyzed” or “collagen peptides” on the label, that means the protein has been broken down with water to make it easier for the body to absorb. This process gives the supplement greater bioavailability.
You’ll also want to check the ingredients before purchasing a collagen supplement. The first thing to look for is how much of the product is pure collagen. But beyond that, the more transparent the company is about the product, the better the odds are that you’ll get a quality supplement.
When buying traditional collagen supplements, look out for producers that administer hormones to the animal source or use chemicals to break down the protein. If you prefer a vegan option, know that many of these products are made with genetically-modified yeast.
Even if you’re not looking for vegan collagen, you may still have concern about how the animal source is raised and treated. Collagen is a by-product of animal agriculture. Many of the best supplements get their supply from ethical farming sources that practice principles like open-pasture raising and grass feeding.
Color and Smell
Powdered collagen should be white without any additional color. If your collagen is off-color, that means it either has fillers or other active ingredients. Also, it shouldn’t have taste or smell, making it easy to add to any liquid without affecting the taste or consistency.
Entering the supplement market can be overwhelming at first. For every high-quality collagen producer, there’s another company cutting corners. If you have an interest in other collagen products besides pills and powders, tread carefully. Many makeup and beauty brands sell topical collagen products like serums, creams, and lotions. However, little scientific research supports the idea that the protein in these products can cross through the dermis and significantly impact your skin health.