health & beauty

What is Collagen? A Beginner’s Guide

Collagen rich filets of salmon and cod

What is collagen, and what are its health and beauty benefits? First of all, it’s important to know as early as our mid-20’s, collagen production begins to decrease. And, if your system is lacking this essential protein, you can say hello to premature skin damage and achy joints. Fortunately, there are collagen supplements and numerous foods that can help slow down the inevitable.

So, what is collagen?

Collagen is a type of fibrous protein that is essential to the development, formation and repair of our connective tissue. It’s second only to water as the most abundant substance in our bodies and contains high amounts of the amino acids arginine, glycine, proline and hydroxyproline. All of those are imperative in keeping our skin supple, hair shiny, and our nails, bones and joints strong.

Marine collagen supplements on a shelfWhere does supplemental collagen come from?

The two main sources of the substance are marine collagen, extracted from the scales and skin of cold water fish such as salmon and cod, and animal collagen; mostly extracted from cowhide and sometimes chicken and pig. According to studies, though somewhat pricier than the animal variety, marine collagen can be absorbed into the body up to 1.5 times more efficiently. It is said that for adequate absorption of collagen, both vitamin C and hyaluronic acid need to be present. Vitamin C converts the amino acids in the collagen to protein, while hyaluronic acid regulates and repairs cell growth and dead collagen fibers.

 Types I, II, & III:

 Type I collagen makes up about 90% of the collagen in our bodies. It supports our skin, tendons, ligaments, bones, joints and muscle health.

Type II is the rarest type of collagen produced by the body and is found mainly in cartilage and eyes.

Type III is very similar to Type I and is the second most abundant type of collagen created by our bodies. It’s shown to help restore skin’s elasticity and support the lymphatic system, liver, uterus and intestines.

Although collagen supplements are widely available and may even be effective, we have to remember that in this world of quick fixes and “miracle” products we can’t rely solely on supplements to fuel our body’s need for proper nutrition. Foods rich in vitamin C, anti-oxidants and omega-3’s are shown to greatly support our production of collagen, as well as guard our body against the substance’s inevitable loss.

Swiss chard, tomato, carrots and eggs, essential foods for collagen

Grocery guide: Healthy fats & stated natural collagen boosters

  • avocado
  • berries
  • garlic
  • spinach, kale & Swiss chard
  • tomatoes
  • beets
  • carrots
  • red peppers
  • sweet potatoes
  • eggs
  • ghee
  • bone broth
  • salmon & tuna



Diet, supplements, or both . . .

Whether you’re vegan, vegetarian or none of the above, it’s important to maintain a healthy amount of collagen in your system. Incorporating more nutrient-rich fruits and veggies into your daily routine is a great way to keep harmful free radicals and oxidative stress damage from affecting your body too soon. If you have no objection to adding a collagen supplement to your diet, I suggest you do so. Just make sure it’s a high-quality, non-GMO, hydrolyzed liquid or powder for best absorption.

Are you considering a change in diet or a supplement to add collagen to your daily regimen? If so, or if you’re already on the road to collagen supplementation, we would love to hear from you.  If you’re just starting, however, be patient. Studies show that effects take about 4-8 weeks.