If you’re searching for a protein supplement at your local pharmacy or vitamin store, you have no shortage of options. There’s a dizzying amount of products lining the shelves.
One protein product that’s gained fame over the last few years is collagen. Collagen is usually available in capsules or powder, and packaging claims support for any condition from wrinkles to arthritis.
What is collagen? Where does it come from? Is it worth your money? And how does it fit into the Betr method?
This article will answer these questions and more, including:
- What is collagen?
- How collagen can support your health
- Sources of collagen
- Selecting a suitable collagen supplement
- Betr and Collagen
Keep reading for more info about this potentially powerful protein product!
Collagen: Your Premier Protein
Over ⅓ of the protein in your body is collagen. It is an essential part of the structure of your skin, bones, tendons, teeth, and even your eyes and blood vessels.
There are several subtypes of collage, but the four main categories differ based on their roles in your body. Type I is the most common and makes about 90% of the collagen in your body.
Type 1 collagen is the sturdy fiber that supports the structure of your bones, skin, ligaments, and other connective tissue.
Picture your body as a house. Collagen is like the studs, beams, and framing, providing the support and structure necessary to keep your house standing.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body and makes up the essential structure of bones, skin, teeth, tendons, and connective tissue.
Collagen Crisis: What happens if you don’t have enough collagen
Unfortunately, as we age, our body gets less effective at producing enough quality collagen. We can see this most clearly in our skin.
Collagen is responsible for maintaining skin elasticity. When we don’t have enough, our skin forms wrinkles and other signs of aging.
Because collagen makes up the structure of our bones, ligaments, and joint tissue, collagen deficiency can also contribute to the development of arthritis or other bone and joint problems.
Reduced collagen production and repair aren’t just a factor of aging. UV radiation from excess sun exposure, too much sugar, and smoking interfere with collagen production and repair.
Reduced collagen production and repair occur naturally through aging, disease, and lifestyle factors. Lower levels of collagen can lead to skin damage and contribute to arthritis.
Collagen Creation: Dietary sources of collagen
Let’s start at the beginning: collagen is a protein, and, like all proteins, it’s made from amino acids. The primary amino acids necessary to make collagen are glycine and proline. They combine through a process that requires Vitamin C to form procollagen.
Most of us know where to get vitamin C: citrus fruit, bell peppers, and strawberries are a few vitamin C-packed foods. Eggs, dairy, cabbage, and asparagus can boost your proline, and glycine is in chicken skin, pork skin, and gelatin.
Collagen is just as crucial in making up animals’ skin, bones, and connective tissue. That’s why animal protein is an excellent source of collagen. Chicken and pork skin are full of it.
Bone broth is another incredibly healthy (and delicious!) source of collagen, made from boiling down the bones of meat-producing animals.
There is debate about whether eating collagen translates to higher levels of available collagen in the body. But dietary collagen breaks down into amino acids, which the body can use to produce collagen naturally.
Collagen is abundant in animal proteins. It may also help to supplement essential amino acids and vitamin C to support healthy collagen levels in your body.
Considerations on Collagen Supplements
Like many other nutrients, there’s an incredible variety of collagen supplements available- how do you choose?
First, it’s important to reiterate that collagen supplements alone might not effectively provide your body with more collagen.
Your body will break down the supplemental collagen into its amino acid ingredients. This may help produce more collagen, but it might not if your body determines it needs these building blocks for another protein.
Most collagen supplements contain a mixture of Type 1 and Type 2 collagen. Type 1 supports skin structure, while Type 2 is more directly related to joint and bone health.
For skin health, it may be helpful to select a product that contains Type 1 collagen. Find a Type 2 supplement if you want support for arthritis.
Another consideration when selecting a collagen supplement is the form you want to take. Powdered collagen can be mixed into food or drinks and is easily accessible to the body.
You could also consider collagen in capsule form. However, some people find that their body doesn’t break down capsules, and you may literally flush them down the toilet.
Because it’s known for supporting skin health, many creams, ointments, or serums advertise collagen as an active ingredient.
One primary consideration when selecting a collagen supplement is the added ingredients. Select a high-quality supplement without added chemicals, sugar, or other additives for flavor or appearance.
It’s also worth noting that collagen is sourced from animal proteins, so no vegan collagen products exist. And, because fish, eggs, or shellfish are often used as collagen sources, you should check for potential allergens in your supplement.
The good news about collagen supplements is that they are considered safe. Side effects are usually mild and limited to digestive issues like lingering bad taste, heartburn, nausea, or bloating.
Finally, research points toward the benefits of collagen supplementation in skin health, bone health, and arthritis pain. Most of these effects take about eight weeks or up to a year of supplementation for bone health.
Most research focuses on oral collagen formulations at doses of 8-10 grams daily.
There is evidence that collagen supplementation can help with skin health, arthritis pain, and bone health. When selecting a collagen supplement, choose a high-quality supplement with limited added ingredients, and check for allergens.
The Betr Verdict on Collagen
It’s hard to argue against a relatively safe supplement with evidence supporting its benefits for skin, arthritis, and bone health- so we won’t! There’s a catch, though.
We do not recommend collagen supplementation during the Healing Phase of the Level 1 protocol.
- There are a few reasons for this.
First, because animal products are necessary for obtaining collagen, it’s difficult to determine the source of this protein, and it may not be the highest-quality or healthiest protein. On this same note, added ingredients of supplements could potentially cause the same kind of inflammation Betr is trying to heal, especially during Level 1.
Second, one significant indicator Betr uses to identify food intolerances is digestive symptoms, which are the most likely side effect of collagen supplementation. These symptoms may “muddy the waters” and make it more difficult for our coaches to evaluate your response to the Betr protocol.
Finally, because the Betr focus is on Food as Medicine, you may find that you don’t need to supplement at all! Many of our members find that the Level 1 foods are so healing that they improve symptoms they would’ve taken collagen supplements for! Reduced pain and improved skin health are some of the most commonly reported benefits during Level 1.
If you think a collagen supplement is something you want to try, you can add it during the Level 2 reintroduction phase.
Pick a supplement without:
- artificial flavor
- Appearance additives
- Extra sugar
- Any unknown or synthetic ingredient
If you’re unsure if a collagen supplement is Betr-friendly, send a pic of the ingredient list to your coach or the “Ask Us” team chat.
And, as with anything you try during Level 2, watch for intolerance symptoms like headache, digestive symptoms, or fatigue.
Betr does not recommend collagen supplementation during Level 1. If you choose to add it during Level 2, be sure you pick a supplement with minimal added ingredients and listen carefully to your body for signs of intolerance.
To review what we’ve learned about collagen:
- It’s the most abundant protein in your body and is essential for your skin, teeth, ligaments, bones, and more.
- Aging, disease, smoking, UV exposure, and diet can interfere with your body’s healthy production and repair of collagen.
- Animal protein is a natural source of collagen and its building blocks- proline, glycine, and vitamin C.
- Collagen supplements benefit skin and bone health and improve arthritis pain. You should select a high-quality supplement that meets your specific needs and contains the minimum amount of added ingredients.
- If you’re a Betr member and want to try collagen, it’s best to wait until Level 2.
If you think high-quality nutrition supplements might fill in some of your nutritional gaps, you can also browse the internal health section of our Betr Marketplace. We offer our all-in-one Daily Essentials pack and other products that can help support a happier, healthier you!
Are you considering collagen because of skincare concerns? Betr offers a line of all-natural skincare products designed by OM Botanicals. You can also check out our article, The Gut-Skin Axis: Health From the Inside Out, which describes the relationship between inflammation, a healthy community of gut bacteria, and diet!
Finally, log on to our Private Online Community to see thousands of members enjoying stress-free healing and reaching their health goals! Or, if you’re ready, start your stress-free trial today! You don’t have to live with pain, fatigue, and stress- you deserve Betr!
After reading this article, you may be asking yourself if your own health hurdles could be related to an unhealthy gut.
Explore Betr's risk-free trial to see if you could benefit from using food as medicine to rebuild your microbiome and realize the healthy potential you never knew you were missing!