Collagen: Why We Need It For Healthy Joints + Skin

By now you’ve probably heard about the buzz on collagen: it’s been trending in the wellness community for some time now with claims that it can help with everything from gut health, to skin health, to joint health. So far the research has been promising.

When it comes to collagen, there’s a lot of questions. What exactly is it? Are certain forms better than others? And how can we help with the production of our own collagen?

What Is Collagen?

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, making up one third of the protein. It acts as the glue that binds everything together, and makes up our skin, teeth, muscles, bones and ligaments. 

It’s made of long chains of linked amino acids and provides the body with structural support. It also gives skin its elasticity—which helps to prevent wrinkles from forming. 

Different Types of Collagen

There are at least sixteen different kinds of collagen, but about 80-90% of collagen in the human body comes from types I, II and III. (1) Here are the four main ones: 

Type I: this is 90% of the body’s collagen. It’s made up of densely packed fibres, and gram for gram, type 1 collagen is stronger than steel. (2) This is the building block that makes up our skin, bones, connective tissue and tendons.

Type II: less dense than type I, this type of collagen is found in the elastic cartilage that cushions joints. 

Type III: this type of collagen supports the structure of muscles, organs and arteries.

Type IV:  this type is found in layers of our skin.

Why Production of Natural Collagen Starts to Decline

We naturally produce collagen in the body, with peak production happening in our early 20s. As we age, collagen production begins to decline at a rate of about 1.5% per year. Not only do we produce less, but we also produce it at a lower quality. By the time we enter our 50s, collagen production is estimated to have dropped by about 50%. 

While the decline of collagen production is completely normal, there are some things that can accelerate this process:

  • Smoking. (As if you needed another reason to quit.) Nicotine impairs blood flow to the skin, which affects the ability of certain nutrients, like vitamin A, to effectively reach the skin. Not only that, but there are more than 4000 chemicals in cigarettes that can damage collagen and elastin, which in turn can cause your skin to age faster and cause wrinkles. In fact, one study found that synthesis rates of type I and type III collagens were lower by up to 22% in smokers compared to non-smokers. (3)
  • Sun Exposure. While it’s important to get outside and get some sun, too much sun exposure can lead to ultraviolet radiation—which can lead to free radical damage—causing a reduction in collagen and elastin production. (4)
  • Sugar + Refined Foods. A diet high in sugar increases the production of AGEs: advanced glycation end products. These AGEs—which form when protein binds to glucose in the bloodstream—can damage collagen, and affect its ability to repair itself. This can lead to wrinkles and less hydrated skin. (5)
  • Stress. When you’re under stress, your body goes into a fight-or-flight response. The result is a decrease of blood flow to the skin, and an increase of adrenaline, both of which inhibit the production of collagen. (6)

Health Benefits of Collagen

While there are a lot of claims to the health benefits of collagen, the research is still pretty new surrounding it. So while collagen may have benefits for things like diabetes, gut health and sleep, the research has been minimal and tends to focus on compounds in collagen, like glycine, and not collagen itself. 

However, here are some known researched benefits below that are specifically related to collagen supplementation (in the form of collagen peptides)—meaning that you can feel good about these claims!

  • Reduces Joint Pain
    When it comes to joint pain, there’s actually quite a bit of research to back up the health benefits of collagen. Research suggests that supplementing with hydrolysed collagen can help prevent the onset of osteoarthritis. (7) This might be because supplemented collagen can collect in cartilage, which leads to more cushion around the joints, reduced pain and lowered inflammation. (8

    In fact, one study found that adults who supplemented with collagen daily had less pain and a better tolerance for physical activity than those who didn’t. (9) Another study found similar results in athletes who supplemented with collagen over the course of 24 weeks. (10)

  • Improves Muscle Mass
    Collagen has also been shown to be helpful in increasing muscle growth and strength in age-related muscle mass loss. Collagen can help to support the production of creatine in the body, which in turn can help build body mass. (11)  In one study, men who took collagen while undergoing an exercise program had an increase in both muscle mass and strength, compared to those who were only working out. (12)

  • Improves Skin Elasticity
    Probably one of the most talked about health benefits, collagen has been shown to be beneficial for its anti-aging properties, and its ability to improve skin elasticity. One study looking at women aged 35-55 found that those who took a daily collagen supplement over the course of 8 weeks saw an improvement in their skin, both in its elasticity and hydration, in comparison to those who didn’t. (13)

    Other studies, including an 8-week and a 12-week study, found similar results, with the women who took collagen experiencing reduced wrinkles and better skin hydration. (14, 15) This is likely due to the fact that supplementing with collagen helps to stimulate the body’s own production of collagen, as well as other skin-healthy proteins like elastin and fibrillin, which decreases with age. (16)

Sources of Collagen

So hopefully by now you are fully on the collagen bandwagon and are ready to start adding more to your diet. Where do you begin? And what are the best sources? 

Collagen actually comes from the connective tissues of animals, meaning that you can get collagen in your diet by eating certain foods.

Food Sources

Bone Broth
Probably one of the best food sources of collagen, bone broth—in which bones from animals, like chicken or beef, have been simmered for hours to fully release nutrients and collagen from the bones—is a rich source of gelatin, the cooked form of collagen.

Gelatin is what gives foods like jell-o or gummies their texture, which is why a good quality bone broth will jiggle when it’s cooled. The great thing about bone broth is that it’s easy (and cheap!) to make, and it offers up a lot of nutrition. Bone broth not only has collagen, but it also contains other joint-healthy nutrients like chondroitin, glucosamine and trace minerals. When it comes to broth, quality matters, so make sure you’re using grass-fed or pastured animal bones. 

Meat and Animal Skin
Another easy way to add more collagen to your diet is to eat meat off the bones, as well as the cooked skin from animals like chicken, beef, pork or fish. Also, let’s be real: the skin is the tastiest part! Again, quality matters when eating animal skin, as this is where the fat is, and fat is where toxins are stored. This makes it crucial to go with high-quality meats that aren’t fed hormones or antibiotics, and eat diets similar to those that they’d eat in nature. 

Foods That Improve The Absorption of Collagen

Not only can you eat food sources of collagen directly, you can also eat foods that help to stimulate the production of collagen. 

Vitamin C
Vitamin C is needed to help with the uptake of collagen and the formation of procollagen, and can be found in citrus fruits, dark leafy greens and berries. Not to mention these foods are also sources of antioxidants which can help to prevent free radical damage that can impair collagen production. 

Proline + Glycine
These amino acids are needed for the production of procollagen, a stepping stone to collagen. Food sources of proline include eggs, mushrooms and cabbage, while glycine can be found in bone broth and animal skin.

Supplementing With Collagen

While food sources of collagen are an excellent addition to your diet—and offer up a ton of other nutrition benefits—you may want to consider supplementing with collagen in order to really reap the benefits. 

Currently, research points to the benefits of collagen in studies that use collagen supplementation—in particular, collagen peptides—instead of food sources of collagen. While it is likely that we do benefit from eating collagen-rich foods, the research is still new and unsupportive, whereas supplemented collagen has known benefits. Another reason to supplement with collagen is that you might not be getting enough through diet alone. 

Hydrolysed Collagen
When it comes to supplementation, you want to look for hydrolysed collagen (also known as collagen peptides). This is a bioavailable form of collagen that has been broken down so that it can be easily absorbed by the small intestine. 

What To Look For: again, quality is really important when selecting a collagen supplement. It’s crucial to use sustainably-sourced, grass-fed collagen to avoid hidden toxins. Inner Vitality Hydrolysed Collagen Peptides is made from ethically-raised, grass-fed cattle that are free from hormones, steroids and routine antibiotics. Inner Vitality is also allergen-free and each batch is lab tested to ensure quality and purity. 

Collagen peptides are an easy addition to your morning routine—add it to your favourite smoothies or stir it directly into your cup of coffee! The great thing about hydrolysed collagen is that it’s easy to add to hot or cold liquids, and it’s odourless and flavourless. This is a bonus if you don’t like the taste of meat. 

You can also add collagen peptides to protein balls and healthy baked goods for an added boost of nutrition. 

Key Takeaways

While collagen still might be considered a health-trend, the research is here to back it up, making a compelling case to add collagen to your daily diet. Collagen can help with skin health, joint health and muscle mass, and while there are various forms of collagen that you can add to your diet, the research points to hydrolysed collagen as being the most beneficial. 

If you’re looking to try out hydrolysed collagen, you can grab your first tub of Inner Vitality Hydrolysed Collagen Peptides here

Choosing a varied diet—rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals—with the addition of high-quality protein, is a great way to help maintain the production of your body’s own collagen, so that you can continue feeling your best! 

By now you’ve probably heard about the buzz on collagen: it’s been trending in the wellness community for some time now with claims that it can help with everything from gut health, to skin health, to joint health. So far the research has been promising.

When it comes to collagen, there’s a lot of questions. What exactly is it? Are certain forms better than others? And how can we help with the production of our own collagen?

What Is Collagen?

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, making up one third of the protein. It acts as the glue that binds everything together, and makes up our skin, teeth, muscles, bones and ligaments. 

It’s made of long chains of linked amino acids and provides the body with structural support. It also gives skin its elasticity—which helps to prevent wrinkles from forming. 

Different Types of Collagen

There are at least sixteen different kinds of collagen, but about 80-90% of collagen in the human body comes from types I, II and III. (1) Here are the four main ones: 

Type I: this is 90% of the body’s collagen. It’s made up of densely packed fibres, and gram for gram, type 1 collagen is stronger than steel. (2) This is the building block that makes up our skin, bones, connective tissue and tendons.

Type II: less dense than type I, this type of collagen is found in the elastic cartilage that cushions joints. 

Type III: this type of collagen supports the structure of muscles, organs and arteries.

Type IV:  this type is found in layers of our skin.

Why Production of Natural Collagen Starts to Decline

We naturally produce collagen in the body, with peak production happening in our early 20s. As we age, collagen production begins to decline at a rate of about 1.5% per year. Not only do we produce less, but we also produce it at a lower quality. By the time we enter our 50s, collagen production is estimated to have dropped by about 50%. 

While the decline of collagen production is completely normal, there are some things that can accelerate this process:

  • Smoking. (As if you needed another reason to quit.) Nicotine impairs blood flow to the skin, which affects the ability of certain nutrients, like vitamin A, to effectively reach the skin. Not only that, but there are more than 4000 chemicals in cigarettes that can damage collagen and elastin, which in turn can cause your skin to age faster and cause wrinkles. In fact, one study found that synthesis rates of type I and type III collagens were lower by up to 22% in smokers compared to non-smokers. (3)
  • Sun Exposure. While it’s important to get outside and get some sun, too much sun exposure can lead to ultraviolet radiation—which can lead to free radical damage—causing a reduction in collagen and elastin production. (4)
  • Sugar + Refined Foods. A diet high in sugar increases the production of AGEs: advanced glycation end products. These AGEs—which form when protein binds to glucose in the bloodstream—can damage collagen, and affect its ability to repair itself. This can lead to wrinkles and less hydrated skin. (5)
  • Stress. When you’re under stress, your body goes into a fight-or-flight response. The result is a decrease of blood flow to the skin, and an increase of adrenaline, both of which inhibit the production of collagen. (6)

Health Benefits of Collagen

While there are a lot of claims to the health benefits of collagen, the research is still pretty new surrounding it. So while collagen may have benefits for things like diabetes, gut health and sleep, the research has been minimal and tends to focus on compounds in collagen, like glycine, and not collagen itself. 

However, here are some known researched benefits below that are specifically related to collagen supplementation (in the form of collagen peptides)—meaning that you can feel good about these claims!

  • Reduces Joint Pain
    When it comes to joint pain, there’s actually quite a bit of research to back up the health benefits of collagen. Research suggests that supplementing with hydrolysed collagen can help prevent the onset of osteoarthritis. (7) This might be because supplemented collagen can collect in cartilage, which leads to more cushion around the joints, reduced pain and lowered inflammation. (8

    In fact, one study found that adults who supplemented with collagen daily had less pain and a better tolerance for physical activity than those who didn’t. (9) Another study found similar results in athletes who supplemented with collagen over the course of 24 weeks. (10)

  • Improves Muscle Mass
    Collagen has also been shown to be helpful in increasing muscle growth and strength in age-related muscle mass loss. Collagen can help to support the production of creatine in the body, which in turn can help build body mass. (11)  In one study, men who took collagen while undergoing an exercise program had an increase in both muscle mass and strength, compared to those who were only working out. (12)

  • Improves Skin Elasticity
    Probably one of the most talked about health benefits, collagen has been shown to be beneficial for its anti-aging properties, and its ability to improve skin elasticity. One study looking at women aged 35-55 found that those who took a daily collagen supplement over the course of 8 weeks saw an improvement in their skin, both in its elasticity and hydration, in comparison to those who didn’t. (13)

    Other studies, including an 8-week and a 12-week study, found similar results, with the women who took collagen experiencing reduced wrinkles and better skin hydration. (14, 15) This is likely due to the fact that supplementing with collagen helps to stimulate the body’s own production of collagen, as well as other skin-healthy proteins like elastin and fibrillin, which decreases with age. (16)

Sources of Collagen

So hopefully by now you are fully on the collagen bandwagon and are ready to start adding more to your diet. Where do you begin? And what are the best sources? 

Collagen actually comes from the connective tissues of animals, meaning that you can get collagen in your diet by eating certain foods.

Food Sources

Bone Broth
Probably one of the best food sources of collagen, bone broth—in which bones from animals, like chicken or beef, have been simmered for hours to fully release nutrients and collagen from the bones—is a rich source of gelatin, the cooked form of collagen.

Gelatin is what gives foods like jell-o or gummies their texture, which is why a good quality bone broth will jiggle when it’s cooled. The great thing about bone broth is that it’s easy (and cheap!) to make, and it offers up a lot of nutrition. Bone broth not only has collagen, but it also contains other joint-healthy nutrients like chondroitin, glucosamine and trace minerals. When it comes to broth, quality matters, so make sure you’re using grass-fed or pastured animal bones. 

Meat and Animal Skin
Another easy way to add more collagen to your diet is to eat meat off the bones, as well as the cooked skin from animals like chicken, beef, pork or fish. Also, let’s be real: the skin is the tastiest part! Again, quality matters when eating animal skin, as this is where the fat is, and fat is where toxins are stored. This makes it crucial to go with high-quality meats that aren’t fed hormones or antibiotics, and eat diets similar to those that they’d eat in nature. 

Foods That Improve The Absorption of Collagen

Not only can you eat food sources of collagen directly, you can also eat foods that help to stimulate the production of collagen. 

Vitamin C
Vitamin C is needed to help with the uptake of collagen and the formation of procollagen, and can be found in citrus fruits, dark leafy greens and berries. Not to mention these foods are also sources of antioxidants which can help to prevent free radical damage that can impair collagen production. 

Proline + Glycine
These amino acids are needed for the production of procollagen, a stepping stone to collagen. Food sources of proline include eggs, mushrooms and cabbage, while glycine can be found in bone broth and animal skin.

Supplementing With Collagen

While food sources of collagen are an excellent addition to your diet—and offer up a ton of other nutrition benefits—you may want to consider supplementing with collagen in order to really reap the benefits. 

Currently, research points to the benefits of collagen in studies that use collagen supplementation—in particular, collagen peptides—instead of food sources of collagen. While it is likely that we do benefit from eating collagen-rich foods, the research is still new and unsupportive, whereas supplemented collagen has known benefits. Another reason to supplement with collagen is that you might not be getting enough through diet alone. 

Hydrolysed Collagen
When it comes to supplementation, you want to look for hydrolysed collagen (also known as collagen peptides). This is a bioavailable form of collagen that has been broken down so that it can be easily absorbed by the small intestine. 

What To Look For: again, quality is really important when selecting a collagen supplement. It’s crucial to use sustainably-sourced, grass-fed collagen to avoid hidden toxins. Inner Vitality Hydrolysed Collagen Peptides is made from ethically-raised, grass-fed cattle that are free from hormones, steroids and routine antibiotics. Inner Vitality is also allergen-free and each batch is lab tested to ensure quality and purity. 

Collagen peptides are an easy addition to your morning routine—add it to your favourite smoothies or stir it directly into your cup of coffee! The great thing about hydrolysed collagen is that it’s easy to add to hot or cold liquids, and it’s odourless and flavourless. This is a bonus if you don’t like the taste of meat. 

You can also add collagen peptides to protein balls and healthy baked goods for an added boost of nutrition. 

Key Takeaways

While collagen still might be considered a health-trend, the research is here to back it up, making a compelling case to add collagen to your daily diet. Collagen can help with skin health, joint health and muscle mass, and while there are various forms of collagen that you can add to your diet, the research points to hydrolysed collagen as being the most beneficial. 

If you’re looking to try out hydrolysed collagen, you can grab your first tub of Inner Vitality Hydrolysed Collagen Peptides here

Choosing a varied diet—rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals—with the addition of high-quality protein, is a great way to help maintain the production of your body’s own collagen, so that you can continue feeling your best!