Collagen, the new fountain of youth, is often taken as a supplement to keep the skin elastic, heal leaky gut and repair muscle tissue. About 35% of the body’s protein comes from collagen.

Benefits of collagen:

  • Boosts metabolism
  • Brain health
  • Eye health
  • Heart health
  • Heals Leaky gut
  • Improves skin elasticity
  • Improves hair health
  • Lessens musculoskeletal pain
  • Liver health 
  • Strengthens nails

There are different methods that can be used to increase your collagen.


The chart below explains a few methods.

method advantage disadvantage
Red laser light therapy • Can stimulate collagen production
• Has healing capacity
• Not painful
• Absorbed deep into skin tissue
• No known side effects
• Can be done at home
• Considered experimental
• Devices expensive
• Home devices weak
• Professional treatments costly
• Needs to be done consistently to see results


Injections
(done by injecting collagen substance into area to stimulate growth)
• Most commonly from bovine cows
• Vegan source available
• Useful for face wrinkles
• Instant results
• Need licensed professional
• Needs to be repeated every few months
• Errors are irreversible
• Can cause allergic reactions
Supplementation • Synergistic with body processes
• Results noticed after several weeks
• Non-allergic sources available
• Contain amino acids
• Taking regularly can increase collagen
• Need high amounts to trigger the body
• Need to be consistent
• Requires right type of collagen


Biologists have identified 28 different collagen types, each with its own benefit. Some of the more important types are discussed in the table below:

type benefit
type I Skin
typeII Arthritis, building cartilage and joint pain
type III Use for production of muscles, bones and skin
type IV Eye Health
type V Use to improve fiber formation and tissue quality
type VI Alzheimer’s or Dementia
type XVII Eye Health
type X Help healing fractured bones

When it comes to collagen supplementation there are different forms one can choose. 

form advantage disadvantage
Pills • Convenient
• Poor bioavailability
• Can’t control dosage
Gel • Found in skin care products to apply directly on skin
• Dissolves in hot water
• Might not taste good
• Allergenic for some people
• Rubbery texture
Powder • Added to liquids • Might not taste good

When supplementing there are different sources used to make the end product. The advantage and disadvantage of each are in the following table:

source form type/amino acid advantage disadvantage
Marine collagen Fish (piscine) Mainly type I Hydroxyproline • Highly absorbable
• Lower fat content than animal
• Can cause allergic reactions
• Costly
Animal Cow (bovine)


Pig (porcine)

Chicken (fowl)

Eggs (white and shells)
• types I & III
• glycine
• proline

• types I & III


• type II


• type I
• Glucosamine sulfate
• Chondroitin sulfate
• Hyaluronic acid
• Similar to human collagen
• Higher fat content than marine
• Low Cost
• Possible contamination if not raised cleanly




Plant • Good typically • Hard to ingest
• Contains nutrients to stimulate collagen not collagen itself
Hydrolyzed • Collagen broken into smaller particles
• Easier absorption

Having a diet that contains proper nutrition is essential for collagen production.

Nutrients essential for collagen formation:

  • Amino acids (need complete amino acids)
  • Vitamins 
  • Minerals 
  • Essential fatty acids

Food sources to help with collagen production

  • Avocados
  • Berries
    • Blueberries
    • Black berries
    • Raspberries
    • Strawberries
  • Beans
    • Black beans
    • Broad bean
    • Butter beans
    • Chickpeas
    • Fava beans
    • Green beans
    • Kidney beans
    • Lima beans
  • Bone broth
  • Chia seeds
  • Citrus
    • Lemons
    • Limes
    • Oranges
  • Chlorella
  • Dark leafy greens
    • Spinach
    • Kale
  • Eggs
  • Garlic
  • Fish with high omega-3 fatty acids
    • Wild salmon, tuna, mackerel
  • Organ meats
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Root vegetables
    • Jerusalem artichokes
    • Jicama
    • Sweet potatoes
  • Tomatoes

Factors that negatively impact the body’s collagen production

  • Smoking
  • Too much sugar
  • Nutrient deficiencies
  • Excess sun
  • Pollution
  • Aging
  • Genetics

Bone Broth is good source of Types I, II and III collagens. This is available in powders, packaged broths and can be made at home.

homemade bone broth recipe

Basic ingredients:

  • 4 lbs either beef, chicken or fish bones
  • Enough water to cover bones
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp high quality salt
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 3 cloves garlic

Optional ingredients:

  • 3 Onions
  • 4 Carrots
  • 3 Celery stalks
  • 3 Parsnips
  • 1 Turnip
  • 1/4 bunch Fresh Thyme
  • 4 Bay leaves
  • 1 Bunch parsley

Stove top: Place bones, water and vinegar in pot. Let sit in water for approximately an hour. Add other ingredients. Bring water to boil and cover and simmer on low flame for 24 hours.  Add water as needed if bones become uncovered.

Crockpot: Place ingredients in crockpot. Set to the lowest temperature and cook for 24 hours. Add water, if it becomes low. The crockpot is safer than stove for overnight cooking. 

Instant Pot:  Place ingredients in an instant pot. Select the soup button; set timer to 120 minutes; let the pressure decrease naturally.  

All cooking methods: Strain the vegetables and bones from the broth. The vegetables can be eaten separately.

The broth can be stored in the fridge for 5 days or frozen for 6 months. Using ice cube trays allows you to take out smaller portions. 

Drink 8-16 ounces daily.

At Metro we offer a variety of collagen products. Speak with one of our practitioners to find the best product for you.

Karen Wright, CNS, CDN
functional nutritionist
metro integrative pharmacy
kwright@metroinetgrative.com

References:  NCBI, ScienceDirect, Wikipedia, DocShop, VeytsmanDDS, AmaSkincare, Laboratory Evaluations for Integrative and Functional Medicine by Richard S Lord, Ed. Dec 3, 2012

 

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This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition. The information in this article is for educational purposes only.