Not All Collagen is the Same!

Most people think that they need to take collagen to make their hair, skin, and nails healthier, and while that is a good reason to take collagen, there are more benefits than that. To start, we have and make collagen in our own bodies. It is a protein that helps with joints and skin elasticity. It’s also found in your bones, muscles, and blood because it’s one of the major proteins in your body. Typically, you will hear that your collagen production decreases as you age, but this isn’t the whole truth. If you provide your body with the right nutrients and take care of the entire system, you shouldn’t see a significant drop in your collagen production just because you get older. 


There are a variety of collagen types that have been discovered, but modern medicine focuses primarily on 5 types. They are essentially identified by where they show up in the body. For instance, type I collagen is the most abundant in the body, making up 90% of hair, skin, and nails, but also bones and ligaments. This is a well known type of collagen because it makes youthful-looking skin. When people use collagen, they generally use it for the benefits of type I collagen; to look younger with healthy skin and hair. While this is a great use, there are other reasons to use collagen.


Type III collagen is found along with type I but in smaller amounts. Why is type III so important? While type III also supports skin and bone health, it also creates part of the arterial wall and is crucial for heart health. Our arteries need to remain elastic to handle the pressure and pulses of blood flowing through them. Most of our cardiovascular diseases arise when the arteries become either stiff or occluded. When they become still we see a rise in blood pressure (hypertension or HTN), arteriosclerosis, atherosclerosis, and myocardial infarction (heart attack). 


Type III collagen helps keep those vessels elastic and pliable to allow for the variability of blood flow and keep your cardiovascular system running efficiently. This lowers your blood pressure and resists changes to your vessels preventing poor cardiovascular outcomes. Not only does it help you look younger and healthy, but it keeps your heart in tip-top shape to ensure a long-life! It is also found in large quantities in your muscles and has been shown to increase muscle mass. As the heart is also a muscle, it should be no surprise that we again see a benefit for cardiovascular health. Peripherally, type III builds lean muscle by improving circulation and promoting glycine production. 


Glycine is an amino acid with a lot of roles and activities in the body. It is a neurotransmitter and is needed for other important biomolecules such as creatine and heme. It works as an antioxidant and modulates the immune system in the nervous system. Its relationship with muscles is unique in that it enhances muscle proteins even when they are under inflammatory conditions. These inflammatory conditions can arise from many causes including poor nutrition and pro-inflammatory foods, however muscles largely experience inflammation due to use. 

When we use our muscles we are actually breaking them apart to build them back stronger. Inflammation occurs when we break them apart to help clean up the damaged cells and rebuild the previous structures. This level of inflammation is good for healing of our muscle tissues. Glycine works not only to build, but also preserve our muscles from wasting, especially during times of inflammation. It protects our metabolism as well by reducing sugar levels in the body, while lowering insulin resistance. What can’t this little amino acid do?


Many of the supplements that people take for collagen include at least type I and type III and are made to dissolve in most beverages or recipes. As these remain supplemental substances, the FDA doesn’t regulate or guarantee the label claims of supplement manufacturers. Recently, companies were found to be selling collagen peptides containing heavy metals which are toxic and harmful when consumed. One such company was well-known and was found to have traces of lead and cadmium in their collagen. This highlights the need to use well-researched and consistent brands. 


Since the pandemic, more and more large corporations are buying up supplement companies and degrading the quality of the products. We have used Great Lakes Wellness and their Quick Dissolve Collagen Peptides to great effect. This product includes type I and III collagen and is free of glyphosate, preservatives, and GMOs. As it dissolves quickly, it mixes well with smoothies and other drinks. It has no taste or smell and won’t throw off your meal. Great Lakes Wellness also makes their collagen exclusively from grass-fed animals which further reduces the chances of contamination. A few grams a day for a week and you should start to notice a significant difference in not just how you look but how you feel. 


Long-term health improvement takes lots of steps, and starting a daily collagen regimen to look better, protect your heart, and improve your muscle mass is a great way to get started. The variety of benefits for taking collagen are so wide that it makes sense to include this as part of your daily routine. Just make sure to pick a quality product from a reputable source. Even after that, do your homework. It does no good to be slowly poisoned by products that are reported to be helpful. Lastly, take further steps to protect your health such as nutrition and movement awareness and practice. Your future self and collagen appreciate it. 

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