Are you thinking about taking collagen? It seems everybody’s doing it. From making bone broth to making natural gut-friendly gummies to stirring the supplement form of hydrolyzed collagen into tea and smoothies…collagen has a prime spot on the natural health trend train as of now, and for good reason. We need it, and when convenience cooking had a stronghold, the collagen sources from our food supply went out with it.
Thankfully, our uses for collagen make a little more sense now than they did a few short decades ago.
Ma’am, are you okay? Do you need an antihistamine?
Collagen supplementation is commonly used to support the structure of the skin and as part of a regimen to rebuild the intestinal membranes to decrease permeability. The folks who advise on leaky gut all seem to recommend collagen. Turns out, collagen serves a crucial structural role in the human body. It hangs out between cells and is found pretty much everywhere – in skin, bones, membranes, tendons, ligaments and more.
Dietary collagen shows promise as a bone loss prevention therapy – so far, it has successfully decreased bone loss in menopause-induced rodents. Additionally, it has improved osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease) in humans. Collagen intake has been shown to increase the density of collagen fibrils in the dermal layer of pig skin, and similar results were shown with an increase in collagen in the skin of rats after a dietary collagen regimen.
Human tissues are structurally similar enough to that of rats and pigs that I’m paying attention.
So for healthy tissues and forever young skin, we want to to ingest as much collagen as possible, right?
No, not even close.
So, how much to take? I stir 2 tbsp into my morning tea and my afternoon tea. That gives me 22g of collagen protein, 11g each time. (I don’t know what your protein needs are – you may need to adjust.) In addition, I get collagen from bone broth and from slow-cooking bone-in meats.
I could stop there, but why not make sure my body can use it?
Now, it’s true that if we’re supplementing collagen, we’re ingesting the whole form, but we still digest it, which breaks it down into building blocks. So, our cells need to use those building blocks to put it back together into the collagen that strengthens our tissues. With a little research, I found something to help it along.
Enter Vitamin C
Vitamin C is required for your body to synthesize collagen using available amino acids, and studies have shown increased collagen density with the addition of vitamin C. With collagen intake through a powder supplement, bone broth or gelatin, we should have everything our cells are looking for to build it, but vitamin C is essential to this process.
Here’s another source of information on the collagen and vitamin C connection, just for fun.
So, how to get enough Vitamin C for collagen production?
There are plenty of food sources of vitamin C, but I supplement to make sure I get it every day. Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist, dove into the food-derived vitamin C vs. ascorbic acid issue in this article. That was enough for me switch to a whole food source. For now, I get these ones but they’re pricey. Once I get my hands on a capsule filler and mg scale, I plan to make my own using rosehips and acerola herb powders.
How long until we notice results?
There are so many factors that go into skin appearance and collagen production – diet, environment, age, genetics, etc. I noticed a big difference in about a month, especially around my eyes. Your mileage may vary.