By Julia MacPhee C.H.N.C., Pn1, FitNutrition Consulting, www.fitnutrition.ca

The word “collagen” is derived from Greek words meaning “gum producing”. Collagen is a hard, insoluble, fibrous protein found in muscles, bones, tendons, skin, nails, blood vessels, and the digestive tract. It has several roles in the body, including providing elasticity and strength to our skin, repairing and replacing skin cells, and maintaining the health of joints, bones, ligaments, tendons, hair, skin, and nails.

Collagen is the primary structural protein in the body, essentially acting like the “glue” that holds us together.

Types of Collagen

90% of collagen in our bodies comes from three types: Type 1, Type 2, and Type 3.

  • Type I collagen:  found in skin, bones, tendons, ligaments, teeth, and vascular ligature
  • Type II collagen:  found in cartilage, eyes (vitreous body), and vertebral discs
  • Type III collagen:  found in skin, muscles, blood vessels, and reticular fibers

What factors affect collagen levels in the body?

Several factors impacting collagen levels in the body have been identified. The following factors have been shown to impair collagen synthesis and/or accelerate its degradation.

  • Age
  • Excess stress
  • Autoimmune conditions
  • Smoking
  • Excess sun exposure
  • High sugar intake
  • Nutrient deficiencies (e.g., Vitamin C)

How can we increase collagen levels in the body?

Collagen and collagen-boosting nutrients are found naturally in many foods and supplements.

  • Bone broth

Rich in collagen and many other beneficial nutrients, bone broth may be one of the best ways to get more collagen through the diet. It can be made at home from bones of your choice, such as beef, chicken, turkey, and fish. Simmering bones over a long period of time extract collagen in the form of gelatin. If you’ve ever made homemade bone broth, you may have noticed that, as the broth cools, a layer of gelatin forms at the top.

Collagen-boosting nutrients

While dietary collagen can only be obtained from animal sources, there are plenty of foods in plant-based diets that help boost collagen formation in the body. This includes plant-based sources of amino acids glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline, Vitamin C, anthocyanins and copper.

Benefits of collagen supplementation?

Research has shown that supplemental collagen can be beneficial for several different health conditions, such as:

  • Skin aging
  • Cellulite
  • Brittle nail syndrome
  • Bone density and osteoporosis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Joint pain and exercise
  • Collagen peptides may also support weight loss and maintenance of a healthy weight.

Collagen supplements may be derived from a number of different animal sources. Look for “sustainable”, “grass-fed”, “pasture-raised”, and/or “free-range” to ensure supplements come from the best quality sources.

Marine-derived collagen has become increasingly popular for environmental, ethical, and health reasons. Marine-derived collagen is considered less allergenic, therefore less likely to trigger an inflammatory response.

Stop by Bownesian Grocer to speak to one of our wellness advisors and to check out our wide selection of collagen supplements and bone broth powders, including the convenient single packs of collagen to carry in your purse, briefcase or in your suitcase when travelling this summer.