So you want to learn how to get collagen in your diet. Maybe it's because you’re noticing some changes that come with aging. Maybe you want to strengthen your joints, or are an athlete that wants to add quality protein to your diet for optimal results.
But learning how to get collagen in your diet isn’t always a simple process, because you might not be getting enough collagen from your food alone.
The first thing you need to know is that not all types of collagen are processed by your body in the same way. And, in most cases, you won’t be able to get all the collagen you need strictly from the food you eat.
The good news is that we are well-versed when it comes to how to get collagen in your diet. There are plenty of foods that can help boost your body’s natural collagen production, as well as collagen supplements that you can take to reach your collagen needs.
But why should you learn how to get collagen in your diet in the first place? Let’s take a look at what collagen does for your body.
Why collagen should be included in your diet
Although you may have read a lot about the benefits of collagen already, you still may be wondering: “Is collagen good for you, or is all this talk just hype to get me to buy a collagen supplement?”
Collagen is an abundant protein in the body that it is used to build, repair, and maintain several parts of your body like your skin, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, vital organs, and other connective tissues.
What is collagen made of? Well, the proteins are made from amino acids like Glycine, Proline, Hydroxyproline and Arginine that help keep your joints healthy and your skin looking young and elastic among other things.
Collagen is a protein that your body produces naturally, and there is a good reason your body produces it - you need it for healthy body functioning.
But if we produce collagen naturally, why would you need to add more collagen to your diet?
The thing is, by the time you reach your mid twenties, your natural collagen production starts to decrease. That’s why as you approach your thirties you may start to notice changes in your skin appearance or even some aches and pains in your joints.
Since so many parts of your body need collagen, and your collagen production is decreasing gradually with age, your body needs to do something to balance this out.
How does it do that? By directing your collagen stores to the areas that need it most - which are usually the tissues of your vital internal organs. This means your skin and joints often get left out when it comes to collagen distribution.
Collagen is good for you. By learning how to get collagen in your diet you will provide your body with more of what it needs to build, repair, and maintain itself.
When you consume collagen that your body can properly absorb and process, you are providing your body with the amino acids it needs to produce collagen molecules.
How to get collagen in your diet
Now that you know how important it is to learn how to get collagen in your diet, let’s discuss some ways you can actually do so.
The first step to learning how to get collagen in your diet that your body can actually process starts with knowing how to get collagen from foods and how your body digests them.
Getting collagen from food
It is important to note that all collagen supplements are sourced from animal products. After all, since humans produce collagen for their connective tissues, animals do the same.
The same goes for collagen foods. If you expect to get collagen from food sources, it will all come from animal products.
A few common collagen foods include:
- Bone broth
- Egg Whites
Now, this is not to say that vegans and vegetarians need to be left out when it comes to learning how to get collagen in your diet. Vegans and vegetarians may not be able to consume collage directly, but they can still boost collagen production through the food they eat.
Whether or not you have dietary restrictions, eating collagen boosting foods can still be beneficial for you.
Some collagen boosting foods include:
- Soy products
- Citrus fruits
- Leafy greens
Most animal products that you eat will contain some level of collagen, but the exact properties of that type of collagen will vary from source to source.
How to get collagen in your diet can come from animal products and depending on the source, it can provide some of the minerals, lipids, and amino acids your body needs to produce collagen protein molecules.
Collagen boosting foods do something very similar but they are coming from plant sources. Antioxidant rich foods like berries are one of the best foods for boosting your collagen production.
The reason collagen boosting foods can impact how to get collagen in your diet is because you are still giving your body some of the building blocks it needs to make collagen molecules.
How to get collagen in your diet doesn’t just come down to what we are eating though. Adding collagen to your diet is only effective if you are conscious of the absorption rate of the type of collagen you are consuming.
Adding collagen to your diet
Just because collagen is present in a product, like bone broth or chicken skin, doesn’t mean that your body can process it and apply it effectively to build new collagen molecules.
Why is that?
When collagen is in its whole form, it has a larger molecule size and weight than that of our stomach pores. In general, as humans, we struggle to break down collagen in the whole form and struggle to convert it into new collagen molecules in our bodies.
The variation in molecules sizes and weights of the different types and sources of collagen means that that collagen’s bioavailability to us also changes.
Essentially, when trying to get collagen from animal products we eat like bone broth or egg whites, we are only getting a small percentage of the actual collagen contents in that product.
This is why learning how to get collagen in your diet can be a bit tricky - you can’t necessarily get enough collagen from the foods you eat.
So how should you get collagen into your diet?
When learning how to get collagen in your diet, one of the easiest ways is to integrate a high quality collagen supplement into your routine.
As with any type of supplement, not all collagen supplements are created equal, and many collagen supplements contain whole collagen molecules (which as we discussed, are hard for your body to digest).
When considering introducing a collagen supplement into your diet, look for a hydrolyzed or nano-hydrolyzed collagen supplement like ProT Gold.
Hydrolyzed collagen is still collagen, but it has gone through the process of hydrolysis. To put it simply, hydrolysis uses water to process the collagen molecules and break them down into smaller, more digestible molecules.
Nano hydrolyzed collagen is the same thing, but it has gone through hydrolysis more times to make the molecules even smaller.
Hydrolyzed collagen is also commonly called collagen peptide proteins, so you can consider those terms synonymous when looking for collagen supplements.
Hydrolysis has become a more common practice for collagen supplements as we learn more about absorption rates and digestibility in comparison with our body processes. After all, if your body isn’t able to process or absorb the collagen you’re consuming, you aren’t actually adding collagen to your diet, you’re just passing collagen through your system.
How much collagen should I take?
As you may already know about other nutrients and protein, your body can only process so much at one time. So you may also be wondering if the amount of collagen you consume matters when learning how to get collagen in your diet.
Everybody is different, and all of our individual goals will also vary. So asking yourself, “how much collagen should I take?” starts with knowing your individual needs and goals.
Are you adding collagen to diet for health and beauty reasons? If so, then you might want to consume 5-8 grams of collagen up to 3x daily.
Are you adding collagen to your diet to maintain a healthy weight or reach fitness goals? If so, then you might want to take 10-15 grams up to 3x daily.
Was a collagen supplement recommended as a medical nutrition therapy post surgery? Then a higher dosage and higher frequency of consumption may be recommended according to your doctor and dietary needs.
Knowing how much collagen you should take starts with your intention. Once you know that, then you can start analyzing how to get collagen in your diet.
Be sure that any time you are making major dietary changes in your life, especially when adding a supplement, that you are discussing changes with a medical professional. This is especially important for people that may have underlying health conditions.
Your overall level of health, physical activity level, and exposure to environments that damage your natural collagen production can also alter how much collagen you need to see results.
For instance, if you are someone that exercises regularly and is looking to build muscle, you’ll likely need more collagen to reach your goals than someone that is looking to improve their skin health.
It is also important to note that adding a collagen supplement to your diet alone will not help you reach your health goals. In almost all cases, people see the best results from their increased collagen intake when it is paired with other healthy lifestyle changes.
As mentioned, when you are exposed to certain environmental factors, collagen production can also be impacted. Some of the most common inhibitors of natural collagen production include:
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Excessive refined sugar consumption
- Smoking tobacco
- Extensive or frequent sun exposure
- Poor sleep habits
While age can impact your collagen production, age along with these other factors mentioned above can influence how to get collagen in your diet and how much collagen you need.
Reach your health goals by adding collagen to your diet
You can get collagen from the food you eat, but just because you’re eating more chicken or drinking bone broth doesn’t necessarily mean that your body is absorbing the collagen in those products.
Look for collagen supplements that have gone through hydrolysis so your body is able to digest and apply the amino acids to make new collagen molecules.
There are several options for collagen supplements on the market, but how to get collagen in your diet also comes down to ensuring it is coming from a trusted and high quality source.
While a collagen supplement like ProT Gold is medical grade and uses food grade labeling to communicate nutrition, most supplements are not regulated by the FDA. It is important to do your research when learning how to get collagen in your diet to ensure you are getting a quality supplement to help you reach your goals.