Collagen gummies are becoming extremely popular. But are they really the best solution to healthier hair and nails, pain-free joints, and better skin? In this article, we share the opinion of our award-winning team, consisting of feedback from our Registered Nutritionist, Naturopathic Doctor, Fitness Director, and Program Director. Our opinion on this matter comes from an overarching goal to see our body as a holistic system that thrives on balance. From this lens, we offer you insights you may not have considered, and a fundamental understanding that will afford you the ability to create your own opinions moving forward.
First, let’s clear one thing up right away: there is no debate as to the benefits of collagen. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, found in the bones, muscles, skin, and tendons. It forms a scaffold that provides strength and structure within the body. It is an essential component of connective tissue and plays a crucial role in holding the body’s cells together. It also gives strength and elasticity to the skin. In summary, collagen is very important.
Our Ability to Produce Collagen Decreases With Age
As we age, we produce less and less collagen. This causes our skin to become less elastic and wrinkle, and become thinner. This can happen as early as 25-30, and accelerates in women after menopause. This scary fact is why so many people are turning to supplements, and, lately, gummies.
Rome Was Not Built On Collagen Gummies
Collagen gummies, however, are a supplement, and therein lies a massive clue as to what our relationship with them should be. Supplements, by definition, are not primary sources or fundamental building blocks; they exist just to fill in the cracks. Unfortunately, gummies are marketed as a quick and easy way to restore your collagen levels, and, all too often, taking supplements like these causes us to overlook producing essential vitamins, minerals, and collagen naturally—which is always a much more effective and sustainable way.
Collagen gummies are crack filler, and there’s no way to build anything of significance with just mortar. We must continue to focus on the natural building blocks of our health if we are to live a long, and happy life. And if, and only IF, we cannot genuinely derive or produce enough collagen naturally from our lifestyle (nutrition, exercise, habits), then we can, and should look to supplementation for help.
So what should we be doing to naturally support our collagen levels? And when those efforts don’t quite cut it, are collagen gummies really the best way to increase our collagen levels?
Our Bodies Naturally Create Collagen
Seeds: especially pumpkin + chia
- Nuts: almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts
- Bone Broth (ideally home made). Pro tip: use bone broth instead of oil to sauté vegetables, or instead of water when making quinoa or brown rice; both great, and sneaky ways, to add protein to your diet.
- Organic, free-to-range eggs
- Organic, pasture-raised meats
- Wild fish
Healthy Lifestyle Factors Support Collagen Creation
- Make sure you consume enough Vitamin C, zinc, and copper, which are cofactors required for collagen cross-linking. Eat your oysters, which are incredible sources of zinc and copper, and consume plenty of red peppers and citrus fruits, which are full of Vitamin C.
- Do not smoke, and limit alcohol consumption. Both are toxic.
- Limit exposure to pollutants. Also toxic.
- Avoid deep-fried foods and processed meats (bacon, hot dogs), as they contain Advanced Glycation End Products (AGE’s), which can cause the stiffening of our collagen.
- Wear your natural sunscreen! UV damage also increases AGE’s and collagen loss.
- Eliminate added sugar. Sugar is collagen’s enemy! Glucose and Fructose (the two most common types of sugar) link amino acids in collagen and elastin and create harmful compounds called advanced glycation end products. These damage collagen and contribute to inflammation.
- Eat regularly throughout the day, rather than all at once, and include some protein with every meal and/or snack. This improves absorption.
- Thoroughly chewing your food. This also helps absorption and reduces stomach acid, which might denature (damage) the proteins before becoming collagen.
- Take a high quality, refrigerated probiotic, or add a fermented food (sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, plain greek yogurt) to your daily routine.
Supplement only when all else fails
In summary, and as is with most aspects of our health, focus on supporting healthy (collagen) levels naturally. Follow our tips for how to do so. If those efforts fall short, look for as clean of a supplement as possible, and remember, it’s only there to fill in the cracks, not build your temple entirely.
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