Collagen first became popular in North America in the 1980’s, as an injectable filler to plump skin and reduce wrinkles. In China, women have intentionally been consuming collagen-rich foods for centuries, for its youthful effects on skin and appearance.
It’s only been in the last 5-10 years that taking collagen as a supplement has gained in popularity though, with celebrity Instagram posts driving a lot of awareness. Chances are that if you aren’t taking it, you probably know someone in your circle or network who is.
In 2020, in the US alone, spending on collagen supplements was almost $300 million, up from $50 million in 2014 – that’s a lot of growth!
What is Collagen?
Collagen is a type of protein, and is the most abundant structural protein in humans (and all animals). It is found in our skin, hair, nails, connective tissue, bones, joints, and organs. While there are 28 types of collagen, 90% of the collagen in our bodies is Type 1. Collagen is composed primarily of three amino acids: glycine, proline and hydroxyproline.
Why do people take Collagen?
Collagen plays an important role in tissue repair, immune response, cellular communication and migration. When we are young, our bodies product more collagen than we breakdown. Starting in our 20’s, collagen production slows, and then decreases dramatically after 30. Over time, we start to see signs of aging in our skin, and feel them in our joints. Skin loses elasticity causing wrinkles, cartilage wears down causing joint pain, tendons stiffen, and muscle mass decreases.
To help offset collagen break down and reap the benefit of healthier skin, hair nails and joints, many health-conscious individuals are trying to eat more collagen-rich foods (bone broth from animal bones and ligaments, fish skin, jelly fish) and/or supplement with collagen capsules or powders (sourced from bovine, poultry or fish skins). In the case of collagen powders, these are often frothed into a morning coffee or hot beverage, or added to smoothies or oatmeal.
Where are Collagen supplements sourced from?
Collagen can only be sourced from animals. The most common sources for collagen supplements are:
- Bovine (cow hides, tendons, bones) – Type I & III – great for skin health
- Poultry (chicken cartilage, bones, eggshell membrane) – Type II – for joints and bone health
- Marine (fish skin, scales, bones) – Type I – benefits skin, gut. & bones
What about Plant Collagen?
There is no such thing as “plant collagen”. Collagen is only obtainable from animal and fish sources. If you are reducing your animal consumption or following a vegan or mostly plant-based diet, this may not be something that is compatible with your lifestyle.
The good news is, because our bodies can make their own collagen, you can encourage your system to make more by providing it with the right nutrients to efficiently build from. You can increase the protein in your diet (our Clean Plant Protein is a complete source of protein and will do that nicely), and you can also supplement with very specific collagen building amino acids and supporting nutrients. Niyama’s Glow & Flow Vegan Collagen Booster contains the amino acids Proline and Glycine, as well as skin-friendly Lysine, and provides buffered Vitamin C and Soluble Marine Trace Minerals to optimize the efficiency of collagen production. It also contains Biotin, a B Vitamin that supports healthy hair, skin and nails, and vegan sourced Hyaluronic Acid, which holds moisture in the skin to help reduce the dehydration that often accompanies collagen break-down as we age.
The following lifestyle factors can also help protect the collagen you build, and slow collagen loss:
- Using sunscreen consistently – The sun’s rays penetrate the dermis and break down collagen
- Avoiding smoking - Smoking causes skin damage and accelerates the aging process
- Staying hydrated – 6-8 glasses of water daily, getting your omegas/healthy fats
- Eating a diet low in sugar and processed foods
- Getting enough good quality sleep – they don’t call it beauty sleep for nothing!