The collagen craze has hit mainstream and just about everyone I know seems to be either using collagen or wants to find out more about this “superfood”. But is it really all that? Let me break it down for you. Collagen is the main protein of all connective tissues. It’s an important protein that provides structure (glue) for many of your body parts. Certain foods and nutrients that you eat help your body to produce this necessary protein. Collagen is the building block of bones, muscles, tendons, skin, and ligaments, but it’s also found all over the rest of your body including corneas, teeth, and blood vessels. It’s supposed to help your skin firm up and glow, get rid of wrinkles as well as ease joint pain, boost lean muscle mass and support gut and brain health amongst other touted benefits.
As we age, collagen production slows way down in our bodies. Smoking, sunlight, sugar, pollution as well as issues such as autoimmune disease also deplete our collagen levels. People start taking collagen supplements hoping to absorb that extra collagen for keeping the skin looking youthful and for general health. One of my mantras concerning food and supplements is: Know! Your! Sources! I live by this and try to avoid putting anything in (or on) my body that doesn’t come from a high integrity trusted source.
Most collagen comes from the connective tissues, bones and skin of animals. Commonly it’s made into a powder to add to your coffee, smoothie, or shake or taken as a pill. There are a multitude of animal-based collagen supplements out there for purchase, mainly coming from cows, chicken or fish. My first issue as a vegan with this is that these supplements are derived from animals. But even if you’re not vegan and are simply looking to do what’s best for your health and wellbeing, the following may make you want to reevaluate your take on animal derived collagen. Most animal collagen is a by-product of factory farming . The hormones, antibiotics, pesticides and herbicides like glyphosate and even heavy metals the animals are exposed to are stored in their bodies. The bottom line is, these animal based supplements contain contaminants your body does not want. Another problem with animal sourced collagen is the following: during digestion this collagen is taken apart into its building blocks and the body does not automatically build them back together into collagen.
The bottom line is, yes, collagen is important, but does it have to come from animals or are there other more healthy and compassionate alternatives? Plants may not contain collagen, but they do play a huge role in how animals produce collagen, so there truly is a link. And what our body needs to build collagen are three things: vitamin C, amino acids and minerals. None of these have to be animal based. And most of us don’t need more protein (animal or plant based) in our diets to build collagen quicker, instead many of us actually lack adequate vitamin C and mineral levels.
You can find a wide range of high quality vegan collagen builder powders online or in well stocked health stores. They don’t contain collagen, but they help your body to produce it by providing the plant-based ingredients you need to stimulate collagen production. The other great news is you can get a collagen boost by eating a healthy plant based diet that is rich in Vitamin C, proline, glycine, and copper.
And my personal secret beauty weapon to boost my body’s own collagen production and achieve glowing, supple skin is Tremella Mushroom. I swear by this stuff! My skin has never been better since I started adding this superfood into my daily routine a year ago. Tremella is also known as the “Snow Mushroom” or the “Beauty Mushroom” and has been used in the Chinese herbal system for at least 2000 years. Yang Guifei (719-756), who was a famous Imperial Consort during the Tang Dynasty and named one of the most beautiful women in Chinese history, used Tremella as part of her beauty regimen.
You can find some good products containing Tremella online. Since I often get asked what exactly I take: my personal source for this superfood is Addictive Wellness. I have no business affiliation with the brand but know the owners for many years and trust their integrity and ethical approach implicitly.
Load yourself up on these nutrient rich foods and superfoods to increase your own collagen production with added plant based protein that contains amino acids and you’ll never need an animal derived collagen supplement again.