All Collagens Are Not Created Equal
By Dr. Renae Norton
As more and more collagens appear in the marketplace today you may be wondering what all the fuss is about. Or if you are already a convert, as I am, you may be wondering how to maximize the effectiveness and make sure you get the biggest bang for your buck. If so read on.
The whole collagen thing can be a bit daunting. All collagens are not created equal. Some work and some hurt (if used incorrectly) and some are made from ingredients that are not as beneficial as the truly great ones.
Collagen is a significant part of my refeeding protocol for eating disorder patients. It helps restore muscle, bone mass, brain function, improves hair growth, strengthens teeth and gums as well as helps repair damaged intestines.
What Is Collagen And Why Is It So Important?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, at almost 30% of the body’s total protein. You might call it the glue that holds us together, literally, as it is the basis for connective tissue. It keeps our bones, tendons, ligaments, and skin healthy. Although the body makes its own collagen molecules, production starts to slow down as we age, resulting in the breakdown of tissues we associate with getting older – wrinkled, sagging skin and weaker, painful joints.
So here is the good news: you really can maintain and replenish collagen with certain foods and high quality collagen supplements and when you do, you can expect good results.
Three Types of Collagen
For starters, there are three types of collagen; type 1, type 2 and type 3. This is especially important, as there are critical differences in the three and you need to know what those are so that you can use collagen in the most effective way to support your body.
- Type 1 Collagen: Type 1 collagen, which is most abundant in marine collagen, targets skin, nails, teeth and hair by minimizing fine lines and wrinkles, improving skin elasticity and hydration and strengthening teeth. It also helps to rebuild muscles (re-build is important), improves vision and supports the spine and bones.
Collagen usually comes in either a combination of all types (avoid those) or in Type 1 and Type 3. But if you want only Type 1, Natural Force Marine Collagen, which is sourced from wild-caught cod, is particularly rich in type 1 collagen making it the best choice for those specifically seeking the benefits of type 1.
I am all about helping people recover from a leaky gut. To that end, types 1 and 3 collagen are best for healing the gut lining, and type 1 collagen from marine sources is especially good for healing the tight junctions of your intestinal tract.
- Type 2 Collagen: Type 2 collagen, which is best gotten from bone broth targets the protein molecules in your cartilage, and connective tissue. This protects your bones at the joints and in your spinal disks, making it a potent way to support joint health. Finally, it is good for the eyes. View my video on how to make bone broth Part 1 and Part 2 or for a printable recipe click HERE.
Since Type 2 collagen makes up the majority of the protein molecules in your cartilage – the connective tissue that protects your bones at the joints, it is particularly important as we age. Cartilage deterioration causes a lot of joint pain, so this is the collagen type known for helping with joint health. But don’t wait until you are in pain or old as type 2 collagen can help with activity related joint pain and inflammation at any age. The best source for type 2 collagen is good old bone broth.
- Type 3 Collagen: Type 3 collagen, which is sourced from bovine protein, is found in large quantities in your intestines, muscles, blood vessels, and the uterus. It is most often used with type 1 collagen for gut healing, which is why I recommend it to all of my patients to support their gut health, but especially to those suffering from leaky gut. (link to leaky gut) It is usually found in combination with type I collagen and as such is great for gut healing and to improve skin elasticity and hydration.
How the Body Makes Collagen
Our body’s make collagen proteins from three amino acids: proline, glycine and hydroxyproline. While all of these amino acids come from food, some are harder to come by than others. Hydroxyproline, for instance, is found almost exclusively in collagen from animal sources. So if you are vegetarian, you will not be getting this important ingredient.
Which Type of Collagen is Right For You?
The research shows that it is probably best not to combine types 1, 2, and 3. Types 1 and 3 work well together, but less so if you add in type 2 or other types. In fact, putting them together, can have an adverse affect.
Since type 2 is bone broth, I have a cup of homemade bone broth everyday by itself and use a combo of type 1 and 3, 100% grass-fed organic collagen powder, that is GMO free, paleo friendly and rich in bovine and marine collagen. This I put in a smoothie that also contains vitamin C and hyaluronic acid. So having a smoothie with type 1 and type 3 collagen plus a cup of bone broth is the best of both worlds.
What you don’t want is a collagen powder that includes the bone broth, or type 2, as the ingredients compete with each other. Nor do you want a collagen that has five or more types of collagen in it.
Sourcing Your Collagen
The key to maximizing the benefits of collagen is to use only collagen products that come from grass-fed, pasture-raised (in the case of bovine collagen) or wild-caught sources (for marine collagen). Fortunately there are some very good ones out there. I like Garden of Life, but as long as the one you are looking at is non-GMO, 100% grass-fed, made with collagen peptides and paleo friendly, you are good to go.
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