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Added Collagen in Food: Is This a Trend You Should Follow?

Collagen was traditionally about plumping up thin lips and collagen-boosting ingredients are found in facial masks, creams, and even clothing; collagen has invaded foods and drinks from protein bars, matcha powder, dietary supplements and coffee creamers. In 2018, U.S. consumers will spend $122 million alone on collagen products and by 2025, the collagen market will expand to $6.63 billion. But should we ingest collagen? Experts aver that with a balanced diet, foods containing added collagen, is meaningless. Collagen who, you ask?

Collagen is a form of protein in human bodies and assists formation of connective tissues.  It is a glue holding our body together and builds strong muscles, bones, hair, nails and tissues. Collagen is naturally available in human muscles, skin, blood vessels bones, and tendons while the food industry-grade collagen is derived from fish, cattle,poultry (gelatin is collagen) and eggshell membranes. Vegetarians or vegans cannot drink or eat anything that has added collagen.

Labels often can be confusing as in the food and beauty sectors, products claiming to contain collagen often contain ingredients which boost collagen. All products containing vegetarian or vegan collagens actually contain vegetarian/vegan collagen-boosting ingredients. Collagen-boosting ingredients and collagen both are already present in stuff we generally consume such as leafy greens, eggs, tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, bone broth, salmon, berries and avocados, among other things. Even vitamin C is said to naturally stimulates the production of collagen, so eating oranges and applying vitamin C serum to you skin is recommended.

Why Collagen in Foods?

Professional athletes are well aware of the many benefits of collagen, not realizing collagen availability in every day foods. Top athletes are aware of benefits for strengthening joint and ligament health, improving performance and potentially reducing injuries. Senior adults feel that if collagen improves skin health and reduces wrinkles, they look younger.

Being demand -sensitive, brands are producing an array of foods which contain added collagen. The company behind Country Archer Jerky introduced 3 flavors of collagen-added meat bars while Bulletproof distributes collagen-flavored bars and powder collagen in three versions. Primal Kitchen use grass-fed cow collagen in powders and protein bars called Collagen Fuel; Vital Protein’s collagen-enhanced drink creamers and matcha powders made from collagen derived out of cattle hide. The brand Ancient Nutrition makes it’s bone broth powder by adding chicken collagen in it.

How much Collagen is ingested and from which foods?

Collagen from collagen-enriched products and natural foods are useful with emphasis on the former. People eating protein-rich foods need no additional collagen, as it will stimulate maintenance or guarantee new collagen synthesis as all bodies need adequate protein and vitamin building blocks. Most food labels omit collagen percentages in the enhanced foods. Vital Proteins’ Matcha contains about 10 grams worth of collagen in every packet. But most other products only list how much protein is in their product, and not collagen content.

Also USDA fails to specify ingesting a particular amount of collagen every day and thus it would suffice your daily protein goals depending on lifestyle and age. But about 10 or 20 grams of collagen daily will give expected benefits. Protein is certainly not stored inside the body and excess protein which is consumed is naturally excreted by the body. Spreading your protein intake throughout the day helps to maintain protein turnover in your body. Extra peptides in the body does not mean more collagen as unused protein peptides are converted and stored as fats, as is the case with excess calories.

Is Collagen Good for Health?

Recent research has growing evidence supporting collagen inclusion for health reasons. A 2009 study made its participants take type II collagen supplements (found in cartilage) and osteoarthritis symptoms reduced by 40% while severity of symptoms reduced by 33 %. Another study conducted in 2014 had a random selection of 46 of 69 women, between the ages of 35 and 55, ingest a collagen supplement. Those women who ingested collagen improved skin elasticity, just within 4 weeks. Whether collagen supplements help, depends on individual conditions, age and lifestyle.

Ingesting collagen to improve your skin is a folly as there is inadequate data to support the fact that consumed collagen will actually reach your skin. Ingesting any protein turns it into amino acids and the body absorbs these nutrients needed. Unless protein-deficient, the body is very efficient with absorbing what is needed and ejects what is not needed. Though some studies mention that collagen-enhanced foods and collagen supplements work for a few, a diet which is nutritionally balanced is probably the best way for skin improvements. Based on scientific literature, a Paleolithic diet with minimal grains and zero processed foods/grains, comes highly recommended.

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