Collagen fad or fabulous?

by LukeAdmin

by Diana Arundell – University qualified Naturopath and Nutritionist

The health and wellness industry often seems to have a ‘miracle’ or ‘fad’ type food or supplement of the moment. We’ve lived through trends of kale, coconut oil, cacao, celery juice (which pumped up the prices of celery bunches from $3 to $9!!) just to name a few. Many of the ‘superfoods’ that gain attention are actually super healthy foods, however none of them are the one magic thing that will fix all health issues as they’re sometimes marketed.

Collagen has recently gained some attention and the right form of collagen can indeed be beneficial in supporting the strength of the musculoskeletal system including bone, tendons, cartilage, muscles and improve skin tone. Collagen production naturally reduces with age so a good quality collagen supplement can be beneficial to a number of health issues associated with the ageing process. Collagen is a protein and like all proteins it is made up of amino acids which are considered the building blocks of protein.

Collagen can be likened to a piece of rope made up of tiny fibre strands intertwined and is an important structural protein found in our connective tissue such as hair, skin, nails, muscles, joints and tendons. The role of connective tissue includes structural connection, hydration, cushioning and support. Collagen peptides are tiny protein building blocks concentrating the amino acids glycine, hydroxy-glycine and proline which all contribute to the body’s essential amino acid requirements. There are several clinically proven collagen peptides that have been studied and shown to improve cartilage health, skin elasticity and stimulate the synthesis of bone matrix. These are Fortigel, Verisol and Fortibone respectively. Other collagen peptides have been studied and proven to support muscle mass maintenance and healthy body composition.  

Some of the main areas that can be supported by collagen is that of joints and cartilage. Joints that are affected by osteoarthritis caused by age or wear and tear, respond well to collagen peptides such as Fortigel. This form of collagen peptide has been proven to stimulate the growth of cartilage and ease joint discomfort. Almost 70% of cartilage mass is made up of collagen protein and supplementing with Fortigel collagen peptides for three months has shown significant improvement in joint cartilage tissue metabolism. 

Our skin structure is primarily made up of collagen and Verisol collagen peptides have been shown to improve the texture of skin by nourishing and hydrating from the inside out. This may result in smoother skin texture, plumping up wrinkles and improved growth of hair and nails. Results may be noticed after 4 weeks of continued dosing.  

Fortibone collagen peptides improves the synthesis of collagenous bone matrix. This anabolic effect on the bone matrix has shown signs of improving bone mineral density scores in menopausal women with osteopaenia and osteoporosis after 12 months of supplementation. 

Collagen is found more abundantly in animal products such as bone broth, fish, beef, chicken and pork skin. These are broken down via our digestive tract to the collagen peptides however may not be absorbed as effectively as the hydrolysed collagen peptides. Collagen production in the body is enhanced by vitamin C so eating an abundance of vitamin C rich foods such as red and orange coloured fruit and vegetables and broccoli can assist natural collagen production. It’s harder to find good quality collagen sources in a vegetarian or vegan diet although the following vegetables contain reasonable levels of proline and hydroxyproline which are the main amino acids that form collagen: beans, cheese, eggs, soybean, wheatgerm.

Collagen powder is easy to take as it’s tasteless, it’s well absorbed and has minimal potential side effects so may be well tolerated by sensitive individuals. Good quality collagen powder can be added to cooking as it remains therapeutically stable. As with all supplements, it’s important to choose an evidence based, practitioner quality formula as these products have been proven to be effective. If you are unsure speak to your naturopath or nutritionist for advice.

Diana Arundell is a university qualified naturopath and consults from her Avoca Naturopath clinic. She has a special interest in fertility and pregnancy health, digestive health, immune function and family wellness programs. She is a lecturer of Nutrition at Macquarie University, and an accredited Journey Practitioner. For further information or to make an appointment please contact Diana Arundell at Avoca Naturopath on 0410 465 900.

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