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Collagen supplements have been all the rage lately, but what do they actually do?

I think it's important to know WHY you're taking it, WHAT you're taking it for, and HOW it works in your body! This will help you wade through the advertising and choose the right collagen supplements.

First, what is collagen?

Collagen is a fibrous protein that is found in our skin, bones, hair, nails, organs, blood vessels, muscles, and tendons (a large percentage of our body!). Collagen accounts for nearly 30% of the protein in your body. It helps provide structure and support for many of the "building blocks" of your body.

All protein, including collagen, is made up of amino acids. There are three amino acids that make up collagen - proline, glycine, and hydroxyproline. You need all three of these amino acids combined to create collagen fibers. To assist in the creation of collagen, you also need vitamin C, copper, manganese, and zinc.

When choosing a collagen supplement, it's important to remember that what you're really doing is boosting your body's ability to create its own collagen with those three amino acids (and supporting vitamins & minerals).

Health Benefits of Collagen

Collagen could be called the "glue" of our body's structure. It's important in the following areas:

- Joint health

- Hair, skin & nails

- Metabolic function

- Structural health (ie bones & ligaments)

- Repairing and replacing cells

- Additional strength to blood vessels, organs, & muscles

Types of Collagen

There are many different types of collagen (up to 20!) that do different things in different parts of the body. Most of the collagen in our bodies comes from types 1, 2, & 3.

Type 1: Is the most prevalent form in the body and is usually associated with skin, nails, and hair. It is also important for health of our tendons, organs, and bones. Type 1 collagen usually starts to decline around 25 years of age, which is why supplementing has become so popular. Most collagen supplements are made of Type 1 collagen.

Type 2: Is important for the health of our cartilage. It is less prevalent, but still very important for skeletal health, joints, and healthy movement.

Type 3: Promotes hair, skin, nail, and bone health. This can often be found alongside Type 1 collagen. It is also found in fibers such as bone marrow.

Collagen Supplements

Now that we know more about collagen, there are a few different types of supplements. My favorite are powdered or liquid. This helps your body break it down (and use it) much easier. I'll share with you some of the best that I take myself or recommend to my clients!

Collagen powder: I love the Vital Proteins collagen! Chocolate is one of my favorites, and they also have a collagen creamer which is so tasty. These collagen powders have a great variety of amino acids, no sugar (sweetened with stevia), and no other nasty ingredients. One serving contains 20g of protein (amino acids) that will help your body build collagen!

*these products are featured on Fullscript. create an account to automatically get 10% off!

Liquid: Liquid supplements are always a go-to for optimal absorption and quality. Here are two of my favorites.

This first one, HL5, is Hydrolized Collagen (fancy word for broken-down), which even further enhances your body's ability to use it. I also love that these pouches are easy to take on-the-go. I love the super clean ingredients, and the great kick of collagen.

*click the image to learn more

I also love this Glow collagen from Tranont. This is type 1 collagen in liquid form! Each serving contains 10g of protein, collagen, l-citrulline, biotin, and hyaluronic acid.

Collagen-Boosting Diet

Dietary collagen can only be obtained from animal sources. If you are vegan or vegetarian, there are plant-based foods that can help boost collagen as well! Even if you do eat meat, it's good to remember that a diet including these foods will also be beneficial for your collagen production.

We mentioned before that collagen cannot be produced without several important vitamins and minerals, along with those three amino acids. Here is a list of foods that can help you obtain those necessary "ingredients" for collagen production.

Vitamin C

  • Bell peppers

  • Broccoli

  • Brussels sprouts

  • Citrus fruits (e.g., oranges, grapefruit)

  • Kiwi

  • Strawberries


  • Animal proteins (e.g., meat, poultry, salmon)

  • Certain grains (e.g., barley, corn, sorghum, wheat)

  • Milk

  • Soy


  • Animal proteins (e.g., meat, poultry, salmon)

  • Soy


  • Dairy products

  • Fish

  • Legumes

  • Meat


  • Beef liver

  • Cashews

  • Dark chocolate

  • Oysters

  • Potatoes (with flesh)

  • Shiitake mushrooms


  • Blueberries

  • Pomegranate


  • Oysters

  • Meat

  • Beans

  • Nuts

  • Broccoli & green leafy vegetables

  • Whole grains

  • Milk products

I hope you learned a little about collagen today, and how you can navigate the noise around collagen supplements! Feel free to reach out with any questions or schedule a free consultation with me!

- Merilee Ford, M.A.

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