By Dr. Jenna Macciochi, Head of innovation at Ancient + Brave and Immunologist
In recent years, collagen has gained tremendous popularity as a go-to supplement for skin, hair, joint and whole-body health. However, with its rise in popularity, numerous myths and misconceptions about the best way to supplement collagen have also emerged. Here we debunk the top myths surrounding collagen supplements, shedding light on the real science behind its remarkable benefits.
One of the most common misconceptions about collagen is that it's solely beneficial for improving skin health and appearance. While it is true that collagen plays a crucial role in skin health, promoting elasticity, suppleness and hydration, its benefits extend far beyond that. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body making up a significant portion of bones, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. It is a vital component of our connective tissue which, as the name suggests, connects our tissues together. By supplementing a healthy diet with collagen, you are also supporting whole-body health, nurturing vital aspects such as joint health, digestive wellness, muscle mass, bone strength, management of chronic pain and more.
While collagen is an incredible multi-tasker for your whole body, there are of course few quick fixes when it comes to health. It cannot compensate for an inadequate diet or cancel out some poor lifestyle habits. While collagen has indeed been scientifically shown to be beneficial for whole body health, it should be viewed as a supplement to a healthy diet and lifestyle rather than a replacement or band-aid. Collagen supplements work best to support our health when taken in combination with a nutritious and well-rounded diet rich in essential vitamins, minerals and colourful plant phytonutrients.
There's a common misconception that collagen supplements are only beneficial for mature individuals seeking to combat the signs of ageing. While several studies have shown that consuming collagen supplements can support whole-body health in older adults, in truth, collagen is essential for people of all ages. Your body begins to deplete collagen from around your mid-20’s and by your 40’s the body has lost around 30% of its entire collagen levels. Incorporating collagen into your routine from an early age can mitigate this process, offering several long-term health benefits to help you maintain healthy tissues, promoting faster recovery after injuries or intense physical activities.
As long as the quality is high, there is little difference in efficacy between taking marine or bovine collagen supplements. Whether you choose marine or bovine will come down to personal and dietary preferences, as well as things like budget (marine tends to be slightly more expensive). It may also come down to taste. Our True Collagen is tasteless while Wild Collagen has a more neutral taste. There is no reason why you can’t take both, but whichever one you choose, make sure you steer clear of collagen sourced from poor farming practices or farmed fish. Not only is this an important ethical standpoint, but it also impacts the nutritional excellence of the collagen you're considering. For those choosing a vegan product, it’s important to be aware that there is no natural vegan source of collagen but our Radiant and Naked Collagyn both offer a unique blend of plant proteins and botanicals enhanced with collagen-specific amino acids, buffered vitamin C to support collagen levels.
Collagen supplements can come in many forms from gummies and drinks to powders and pills which can lead us to question which format is the most optimal. Once you've chosen a high-quality supplement, you need to ensure you are taking the optimal dosage. Extensive research suggests that an intake range of 5-15g per day is ideal. This is why powders are often the best option. The limited space within a single capsule makes it challenging to accommodate the necessary collagen quantity – if a capsule delivers 500 milligrams of collagen, that's 10 capsules to get to just 5 grams. Providing the dose and details are the same, there’s very little research that indicates whether liquid collagen is superior to powder collagen or vice versa; both have shown whole-body benefits in clinical research. Liquid supplements might offer more convenience but this often comes at the expense of collagen dose. Plus you need to watch out for unhelpful additives in liquid forms.
Many people look to capsule supplements out of convenience or because they have heard that encapsulation is vital to the collagen reaching the intestine intact. The collagen in powders and pills are the same if they contain the same type of collagen, dosage and source. However as mentioned in Myth 5 above, capsules have a size restriction making it challenging to accommodate the necessary collagen quantity. Despite claims that encapsulating collagen is superior to powders as it prevents it from being degraded by the digestive action of the stomach before the collagen peptide is absorbed, there is no scientific basis for this. Ancient + Brave uses hydrolysed collagen peptides. ‘Hydrolysed’ means they have already been broken down into a bioavailable form which is absorbed in the small intestine. The majority of clinical studies showing whole-body benefits of supplementation use hydrolysed collagen peptides in powdered form. Collagen powders are also more versatile and can be added to various drinks (hello, creamy coffee), smoothies and more.
Collagen powder and protein powder are often discussed in interchangeable terms. It's easy to get confused about their differences. All proteins are made up of building blocks of amino acids. Think of amino acids like different coloured Lego bricks, each with a slightly different function in the body. While both collagen supplements and protein powders contain amino acids and support protein levels, collagen contains a different spectrum of amino acids than a traditional protein powder supplement like whey or vegan protein powders. This is important because the benefits of collagen are not just because of its protein content but due to its unique chains, called peptides, of very specific amino acids. In general, it’s important to view collagen supplements and protein powder as different products with different nutrition profiles and different health goals.
With so many collagen supplements on the market, it's very important to be aware that not all collagen supplements are created equal! In choosing the best product there are some key considerations to look for. For example, big red flags like unnecessary colourants, binding agents, fillers and stabilisers. Our powdered True and Wild Collagen are both pure and potent 100% Hydrolysed Collagen Peptides. Knowing the source of your collagen is also extremely important. Recent investigations have linked collagen sourced from cattle raised on South American farms driving deforestation and invasion of multiple indigenous territories. Ancient + Brave True Collagen is derived from the hide of grass-fed cows sourced from the EU while Wild Collagen is derived from fish that are wild-caught and sourced sustainably from the North Atlantic. Packaging is also an important consideration. Purchasing collagen in glass jars or recyclable pouches reduces unnecessary waste from liquid sachets and plastic waste. Our dark-coloured glass protects the contents from being degraded by light. Unlike plastic, glass is one of the few containers that do not leach hormone-disrupting chemicals into its contents.
With so many collagen supplements marketed to women as ‘anti-ageing’ skin solutions, their appeal has primarily (though not entirely) been as a women's supplement. Now of course many men also care about their skin as they age but the significance of collagen as a supplement to support whole-body health means the broad health benefits are as relevant to men as well as women. Discover more on what men should know about taking collagen here.
To date, 28 different types have been identified in humans. The volumes in which they are present in the human body depend on the type and their location in the body. For humans, the three most prolific are types I, II and III. Type I collagen is the most abundant type of collagen in the human body, found in nearly all connective tissues such as tendons and ligaments and is also key to the structure and integrity of the gut and skin. Our True and Wild Collagen provides easily digestible, highly absorbable, clinically researched and sustainably sourced Type 1 hydrolysed collagen peptides.
Collagen supplements offer a myriad of benefits for whole-body health that go way beyond skin health and beauty. By debunking these myths, you can make informed decisions about integrating collagen into your wellness routines. As with any supplement, it's essential to choose high-quality products from reputable brands and combine them with a well-balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.