Health and beauty obsessees are on a collective collagen kick. There are tons of collagen-powered products hitting the shelves in response to the trend. There is also an increasing amount of questions floating around about it too. Is all collagen the same? Should we be taking it in supplement or food form? Does the stuff even work?!

We’ve asked functional medicine pro, Dr. Josh Axe, to give us the low-down. Here’s your definitive guide to collagen, including the best sources to take for major full-body benefits…

The word collagen comes from the Greek word kolla meaning glue. This makes perfect sense. Collagen is literally the substance that holds us together. It reduces joint pain, to helping heal a leaky gut, to strengthening teeth and nails. And, most notably, collagen plays an important role in the health of our skin. You can thank this gelatin-like substance for your skin’s elasticity and firmness. It also helps your body’s ability to efficiently repair and replace old skin cells.

There are over 15 different kinds of collagen in the human body. Approximately 80 to 90 percent is either type I, type II or type III. Types I and III are found mainly in the skin, organs, tendons, ligaments, and bones. Type II collagen primarily helps to build cartilage, which is key to joint health. Unfortunately though, aging triggers a natural decline in collagen production, and we can also lose collagen due a high sugar diet, hormonal changes, drugs, alcohol, hydrogenated oils, overwork, radiation, fluoridated water, excess sun, nutritional deficits, dehydration, stress and trauma.

The good news is that we can fight the effects of aging and less-than-ideal lifestyle factors by making collagen a regular part of our wellness routines. And while there are plenty of topical beauty products out there claiming to be collagen dream creams, the best and most effective approach to boosting your collagen levels is to up your internal intake.

Here are some of my favorite ways to do just that:

Bone Broth

While collagen food sources exist, it can be hard to consume the parts of the animals where the collagen is most concentrated (i.e. the bones and cartilage). High-quality bone broth – made from chicken, beef or fish and preferably homemade – alleviates that issue by drawing collagen from the animal bones directly into the rich, golden broth.

Not only can bone broth’s collagen content improve the appearance of skin (even reducing cellulite for some), it’s also known to help restore the integrity of the gut lining. And it’s the source of bone broth’s immune-boosting properties too. So before you discard that jiggling layer atop your homemade broth, think again. This is the good stuff that contains the collagen and provides many of bone broth’s available benefits. And if you want to accelerate the health-boosting effects of bone broth, consider a bone-broth fast. Learn more about the benefits of bone broth here!

Bone-Broth Protein Powder

Homemade bone broth is awesome. However, not everyone has time for the hours of simmering that go into a really tasty and nutrient-dense broth. So if time isn’t on your side — or you’re just looking for an easier way to get collagen in your diet on a daily basis — bone-broth protein powder has you covered. Like other powdered health supplements, bone-broth protein powder blends easily into shakes and smoothies. Alternately, you can simply add some hot water to the powder and create a completely effortless, yet collagen-rich, broth. It’s perfect for sipping, adding to soups or even cooking rice or quinoa.

Bovine Collagen

Bovine collagen is also called bovine cartilage or beef collagen and it’s a naturally-occurring protein found in the cartilage, bones and hides of cows. This type of collagen is very similar to what we have in our bodies and provides a healthy dose of type I and type III collagen.

Since cartilage, bones and hides of cows are not likely to show up on your dinner plate, the next best thing is to find a high-quality, grass-fed bovine collagen supplement — which can be easily consumed in pill or powder form.

Marine Collagen

If you prefer a marine-based source of collagen, fish collagen supplements are another option. Hydrolyzed fish collagen is composed of small, low molecular-weight peptides. These are easily digested, absorbed and distributed by the human body. Research has shown that hydrolyzed collagen is a smart choice in the daily struggle to ward off the visible signs of aging. Choose a supplement that is sustainably sourced from wild-caught fish.

Vitamin C-rich foods

Obviously, citrus fruits like oranges and lemons don’t contain collagen. However, their high vitamin-C content makes them a key part of a collagen-boosting diet. This is because consuming vitamin C-rich foods promotes collagen formation.

Similar to collagen, the skin’s content of vitamin C declines with aging as well as exposure to UV light and pollutants. And because vitamin C is high in antioxidants and a key factor in collagen synthesis, it’s important to consume more of these foods if you want to optimize collagen production and decrease the visible signs of aging.

Do you supplement with collagen? Have you seen the benefits? Tell us in the comments below!

The Chalkboard Mag and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. 
All material on The Chalkboard Mag is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health related program. 

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  1. I made Bone Broth for a local company on Maui, my friends’ own, Avita, and it was such a pleasure. The flavors are amazing with rich herbs, and the broth itself feels like my body NEEDS it. I found out I have Viking ancestors from 1060 in Orkney, Scotland, so it makes sense. I NEED bone broth. It feels really good. I just had it for breakfast. Perfect. Calming, hydrating, nourishing. Thank you for this affirming story.

    Claire Anderson Graham Kellerman | 06.22.2017 | Reply
  2. I’m delighted to see that collagen is making the headlines and thank you for such succinct points. I started taking bovine collagen about three years ago after being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. Anyway, cut a long story short and years of struggling I’m back on track working, training and being a mum. I’ve tried many types of collagen but my preferred variety is Proto-cols ‘skin plus’ (for my wrinkles) and their ‘pro-sport’ for my joints. It’s simply brilliant !

    Claire Forbes | 06.22.2017 | Reply
  3. What about collagen for those of us who are vegan?

    Marie | 06.22.2017 | Reply
  4. ….. sounds very rude to eat bones. What about the animals? Do they not have rights? This website is so much about living well. But obviously this is not applicable to animals.

    Carol | 06.23.2017 | Reply
  5. I have a daughter who is vegetarian and I support her choice, so please understand that this answer isn’t given without thought. Collagen is an animal source item. Your body can make collagen and does but that ability can be damaged over time and diminishes with age. Only you can decide if you wish to consume collagen, which is available only from animal sources, or live without it in your diet. There are vegetarians and vegans who make choices when they feel they are necessary for health to consume products that they would otherwise avoid.

    Karla | 06.23.2017 | Reply
  6. Great article!
    I apologize in advance if this is a silly question. Is there such thing as plant-sourced or synthetic collagen supplements?
    In the meantime, I’ll make sure to minimize/eliminate any other factors that are within my control, like sugar, trans fat and unprotected sun exposure!

    Penny | 06.23.2017 | Reply
  7. This article fascinated me knew nothing about this will be finding out more now

    pam keenan | 07.08.2017 | Reply
  8. This post is mental .
    Yes V C’ is a conductor of collagen no kidding .
    But seriously bone broth That’s like using dirty oil for your out of commission beetle .
    I am vegan and i get my collagen production from exercising which kicks in receptors no matter what age you are .
    Collagen can be found only in animals , False . i’ll let you do the research if youre really into veganism .

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