Collagen Peptides: Not Just for Skin!
Most of us know collagen as a topical agent in skin creams and serums. It improves the quality and appearance of our skin. But collagen peptides, taken as a daily supplement, can enhance not only skin, hair, and nails, but also improve exercise recovery, fortify the gut lining, improve detoxification, and strengthen tendons, ligaments, and cartilage.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body and lends structural integrity to the skin, the bones, tendons, ligaments, hair and nails. Dietary sources of collagen include bone marrow, organ meats, and the bones of small fish. Modern diets tend to lack a source of of this important nutrient. We also tend to lose collagen in the body as we age. Collagen is naturally high in glycine, proline, hydroxylproline, arginine, and glutamic acid, all of which relate to it beneficial properties. The peptides are hydrolyzed collagen fragments. Contrary to what you may have heard, they can be taken up in the gut intact1, and hence reach tissues where they are needed. Here are the top reasons to include these peptides in your supplement routine:
To Boost the Health and Appearance of Your Skin.
The skin has two layers, the epidermis, or outermost layer, and the dermis, the supporting layer underneath. The dermis provides structure, supplies blood to the epidermis, and delivers nutrients that help to rebuild and repair the skin. Stress, aging, sun exposure, alcohol, and lack of sleep all affect the integrity of the dermis. Studies have shown that collagen peptides can reach the skin and have a stimulatory effect on dermal metabolism.1 One study of a specific collagen peptide showed a noticeable reduction in skin dryness, wrinkles, and skin-fold depth, as well as an increase in skin density and firmness in 60 days. Adding hyaluronic acid to it can also improve hydration of the skin, increase elasticity, and reduce wrinkles.2
To Strengthen Your Bones, Joints, Tendons, and Ligaments.
A 24-week trial found that collagen peptides can potentially protect against joint degradation in athletes and improve measures of pain.3 Another study of older males with sarcopenia found significant improvement in fat free mas, fat mass, and sensory motor control over 12 weeks when collagen supplementation was combined with resistance training.4 Collagen peptides are naturally high in the amino acids glycine and arginine, which are good substrates for creatine. Creatine is important for energy recycling in the muscle. Studies are mixed on the benefit of collagen for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, but it is considered moderately effective for both.6 Anecdotally, I think collagen is amazing for healing from injury, strengthening all of the connective tissues, and to boosting tissue recovery in athletes.
To Heal the Gut.
The structural integrity of the gut is crucial to its proper function. The mucous membranes and underlying structure in the gut are the body’s first line of defense and support nutrient absorption. Just like our outer skin, our inner skin depends on collagen as a major structural protein. Degradation of the gut barrier is implicated in IBD, Crohn’s disease, food allergies, and many other inflammatory diseases. Collagen supports the structure of the gut and thus is important to its overall function. One study found that it may attenuate TNF-alpha induced barrier function in the gut, which is implicated in IBD.5
To Improve Sleep.
Collagen peptides are naturally high in glycine, which acts as a calming neurotransmitter. Glycine is also high in the cerebrospinal fluid, showing its importance to the nervous system. Due to its calming affects, it can improve anxiety and sleeplessness.
To Promote Detoxification.
Glycine is also a part of the body’s Phase II detoxification system. It binds to certain toxicants and makes them water soluble so that they can be excreted. It is one of three amino acids that compose glutathione, one of our body’s main detoxifying agents.
Collagen peptides are sourced from beef, pork, chicken or fish bones. You want to make sure that you choose a well-sourced brand using grass-fed, organic, or in the case of fish, wild-caught sources Collagen is well-tolerated and has no major side effects.6 We love the Vital Proteins bran. In my opinion, this one’s a no-brainer for anyone who wants to improve skin or gut health, athletes, and anyone who has suffered an injury.
- Schunck M, Zague V, Oesser S, Proksch E. Dietary Supplementation with Specific Collagen Peptides Has a Body Mass Index-Dependent Beneficial Effect on Cellulite Morphology. J Med Food. 2015;18(12):1340-1348. doi:10.1089/jmf.2015.0022.
- Borumand M, Sibilla S. Daily consumption of the collagen supplement Pure Gold Collagen®reduces visible signs of aging. Clin Interven Aging. 2014;9:1747-1758. doi:10.2147/CIA.S65939.
- Clark KL, Sebastianelli W, Flechsenhar KR, Aukermann DF, Meza F, Millard RL, et al. 24-week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain. Curr Med Res Opin. 2008; 24(5): 1485-1496. doi: 10.1185/030079908X291967
- Zdzieblik D, Oesser S, Baumstark MW, Gollhofer A, König D. Collagen peptide supplementation in combination with resistance training improves body composition and increases muscle strength in elderly sarcopenic men: a randomised controlled trial. The British Journal of Nutrition. 2015;114(8):1237-1245. doi:10.1017/S0007114515002810.
- Chen Q, Chen O, Martins IM, Hou H, Ahao X, Blumberg JB, et al. Collagen pepteides ameliorate intestinal epithelial barrier dysfunction in immunostimulatroy Caco-2 cell monolayers via enhancing tight junctions. Food Funct. 2017; 8(3): 1144-1151. doi: 10.1039/c6fo01347c.
- Arthritis Research UK. http://www.arthritisresearchuk.org/arthritis-information/complementary-and-alternative-medicines/cam-report/complementary-medicines-for-rheumatoid-arthritis/collagen.aspx
Ten Essentials for Women’s Health
Women’s health is all about hormones. It has always been a favorite topic of mine. As a teen and 20-something you deal with PMS, erratic periods, acne, and cramps. In your thirties you have all of the hormonal ups and downs that go with pregnancy, childbirth and breast feeding. In your forties you are may have heavy bleeding, depression or anxiety, and mood swings and in your fifties it’s hot flashes, vaginal dryness and wondering when it will all be over with. Surely it wasn’t meant to be this hard, so why is it? Many of us have minor hormone issues that can turn into major ones if they are not nipped in the bud. Here are ten products we think every woman should know about:
Adrenal Health by Gaia—This is only one of many good adrenal products, but I love this formula for its combination of calming herbs and adaptogens. Adaptogens are herbs that help the body better handle stress. Most of us are pulled in a million different directions—kids, jobs, husbands, ailing parents, volunteering commitments, and more. Excess adrenal activity can cause high cortisol, sending us into “fight or flight” mode. Excess cortisol also reduces progesterone in the body because they share receptor sites. This can cause estrogen dominance, causing us to be irritable, have heavy periods, and become sluggish. If chronic, estrogen dominance can result in fibroids, endometriosis, and even breast cancer. When natural doctors look at the hormone cascade they first treat the adrenals, then the thyroid, and the sex hormones are last. Too many women are led to thyroid meds and hormone replacement when the real issue is burned out or stressed adrenal glands. Excess cortisol can also contribute to belly fat. Bolster your adrenals with this supplement or one of the other great ones on our shelves.
Fem Rebalance by Vitanica—An amazing herbal formula that is great for many issues where the balance of hormones is off—hormonal acne, lack of ovulation, very long periods, and more. Its work is subtle, so you’ll have to take it for at least two cycles to get a result. Doctors often recommend birth control pills as a “go to” for any issue where the cycle is upset. Think of this product as a replacement that works with the body rather than altering the natural hormone cycle. Save the birth control pills for what they were really designed for–contraception.
BioSil—Great for the health of hair, skin, and nails, this special form of silica “turns on“ the beauty proteins. It boosts keratin in hair and nails, and elastin, and collagen in the skin and connective tissues. Consult with your doctor about hair loss if the source of it is unknown. Hair loss can relate to anemia, thyroid problems, medications, hormone imbalance, and other things. It is best to find out why you are losing hair before doing anything about it. In addition to addressing underlying conditions, this supplement is a great one for re-growing hair. It also promotes bone growth, and has the “side effect” of fortifying bones.
DIM Pro, milk thistle, dandelion, or BroccoMax—Did you know that after your body uses estrogen it must be broken down by the liver? The proper detoxification of estrogen from the body is crucial to the prevention of hormone-sensitive women’s conditions like fibroids, endometriosis, and many breast cancers. Herbs like milk thistle and dandelion that support liver function can aid in the breakdown of estrogen. Compounds like diindolylmethane (DIM), indole-3 carbinole, and sulfurophane directly relate to the detoxification of estrogens. They are found in cruciferous vegetables, or can be taken in supplement forms like DIM Pro or BroccoMax. There is also a great Host Defense product called Myco Woman that contains a number of mushrooms and herbs aimed at breast health. If you have a family history of breast cancer, this is a great one to check out.
Vitamineral Green powder or caps—A favorite greens formula that is great for overall health. It gives an amazing nutrient boost, oxygenates the entire body, has sea veggies for thyroid support, and tastes better than most of the others out there. It is also excellent for daily detoxing. I love to put it in my smoothies, add it to salad dressing as a nutrient boost, or just mix it with half juice and half water. Even if you don’t do it every day, this one is a winner.
Natracare tampons and pads—When I found out that conventional feminine products contain bleach, the pesticide glyphosate (a known carcinogen), viscose rayon treated with anti-mildew chemicals, and synthetic fragrances, I was shocked. It’s no wonder women have so many issues with their menstrual cycles. Traditional brands have begun to disclose the ingredients in their products in response to consumer demand. Natracare uses only organic cotton and plant-derived ingredients, and includes all ingredients on the label. Using cleaner products on a monthly basis is sure to improve vaginal/urinary health.
Neu Eve suppositories or cream—A non-hormonal solution for vaginal dryness, painful sex, itching, burning, and prevention of urinary tract infection. Developed by a local doctor in response to patients were looking for a natural solution to these problems, it contains only natural ingredients. It helps to rebuild the mucous membranes by supplying nutrients to heal them. Suppositories require only once a week use, making them very convenient. The cream can be used daily if you are currently experiencing an issue.
Acteane—A homeopathic hot flash remedy containing several common remedies for hot flashes. Getting great reviews from our customers!
Probiotics—These “good bugs” assist with digestion, immunity, and mood. Bloating is a common complaint of women and can be greatly relieved by a probiotic. Having a strong microbiota protects us from infectious agents. Certain strains are even targeted at the bacteria that typically cause urinary tract infections. Other strains target IBS, general immunity, and gut inflammation. Since more than 70% of our serotonin is made in the gut, healthy gut bacteria can go a long way toward improving mood. Some of the B vitamins and vitamin K are made from the gut bacteria, so probiotics are important to stress relief, skin health, and bone health.
Progesterone cream—Extracted from wild yam, progesterone is instant relief from irritability, helps with heavy periods, soothes perimenopausal symptoms, lessens cramps and relieves stress. Our endocrine system is very intricate and inter-related. An imbalance in one hormone can lead to imbalance in others. Xenoestrogens are prevalent around us and can affect hormone health. Xenoestrogens are substances that act like estrogen in the body by binding to receptor sites for estrogen. We have been trained to think that a lack of estrogen is the root of so many female problems, but the truth is many of us have too much. Excess estrogen in the body can cause bloating, heavy periods, depression or anxiety, acne, PMS, weight gain, uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts, fibrocystic breasts, endometriosis, memory loss, and even breast cancer. It can also block the uptake of thyroid hormone in the body and may be the genesis of the many thyroid disorders we see today.
Good health is all about prevention and female hormonal issues are no exception. Putting good self- care habits in place and correcting minor hormone issues before they develop into something more serious are crucial to female health.