What is collagen? It is the most plentiful protein in our bodies, it is the support for our skin, bones, connective tissues, joints and many other places.
According to Wikipedia.org, there are 28 types of collagen, but our system is 90% Type I, with most of the rest being Types II through V.
As we get older we lose collagen and this leads to wrinkles, stiff joints and other signs of ageing. According to Top 6 Benefits of Taking Collagen Supplements, studies show added collagen might improve skin health, relieve joint pain, prevent bone loss, boost muscle mass, and promote heart health. Other benefits have been claimed but have no studies to back them up, It has been a source of anti-ageing and arthritis treatment for thousands of years in the East, with Chinese women eating donkey skin for its benefits of reduced wrinkles and improved joint health. All current research into the benefits of collagen are short term and often partially funded by the industry but anecdotal evidence is growing that increasing collagen through nutrition, or supplements, is essential as you age.
You can improve collagen through nutrition by eating bone broth, quality gelatin (Jellotm is not your best source of collagen partially due to processing and partially due to sugar levels), egg whites and fish. But nutritionally you also need vitamin C, zinc, sulphur and copper as stated on health.clevelandclinic.org's The Best Way You Can Get More Collagen and Healthline.com's 13 Foods That Help Your Body Produce Collagen so adding red and green vegetables, berries, citrus and cashews help you absorb the collagen.
Bone broth is a highly recommended part of healthy eating that is not as complicated as many people believe. Basically, its bones and water, cooked slowly, traditionally over a day, to allow the gelatin to be drawn out although a pressure cooker can cut this down to 30-60 minutes. Many people confuse bone broth, broth and stock, but Dr. Kelly Anne Pettrucci clarifies it for us:
- Broth is water simmered with meat, vegetables, aromatics, and sometimes bones. It’s cooked for only a short time—about two hours.
- Stock is water simmered with bones, vegetables, and aromatics. It’s cooked for a medium amount of time—usually four to six hours.
- Bone broth is made from bones, with or without meat. It’s cooked for a very long time—around eight hours for chicken, and 24 hours or even more for beef.
My mother-in-law, as she got into her 80’s, would buy a pre-cooked whole chicken twice a month and would freeze the bones, then when she had 2-3 in her freezer she would make a large quantity to keep on hand. For more bone broth tips see: WHY YOUR BONE BROTH DOESN’T GEL on FoodRenegade.com.
You can also increase natural production by using aloe vera gel as at least one study https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2883372/ shows an increase of skin elasticity and reduced wrinkles, and topical usage of aloe vera as a collagen booster has been proven in several studies. HealthLine.com's 5 Ways to Boost Collagen also suggests ginseng, cilantro and algae as boosters.
Today many people are taking supplements to increase their levels. These collagen supplements usually come from beef, pork and/or fish sources, and may contain other nutrients and additives, although the cross-reactions are unknown, therefore the purer forms of supplements are better. There is some controversy over the safety of these supplements, as seen in WebMD's "Collagen: "Fountain of Youth’ or Edible Hoax?", but unless you have an adverse reaction, there is nothing to show any problems with taking them. Just be aware of allergens such as seafood, shellfish, and eggs.