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The Problem With Collagen (You Might Not Want to Hear This)

 

I doubt a week goes by without someone asking me about collagen.

Collagen powders and supplements are a trend that have been around for a few years now, and don’t seem to be going away anytime soon.

Companies selling collagen will promise fewer wrinkles, stronger nails, shinier hair, preventing osteoporosis, and healthier joints. Those are big promises. But does collagen actually produce the touted results?

Today, we’ll tackle that question and more as I answer your most frequently asked collage questions. Let’s get started.

What actually is collagen?

Collagen is a type of protein found in connective tissue in the hair, skin, nails, teeth, and joints to keep them plump, strong, and working properly. It makes up about 30% of the protein sources in your body.

The collagen products you see on the market are primarily collagen peptides sourced from cows, pork, or poultry bones and hides.

Although your body naturally produces collagen, that slows as we age. By 40, we’ve already lost 15% of our production. Free radicals, glycation (eating too much sugar and protein together), and harmful UV rays damage collagen production as we age.

So it’s understandable that you might want to supplement with collagen. But as we will discuss, if you are dealing with deep wrinkles or brittle hair, a collagen deficiency is not likely to be the primary driver of those problems.

Do collagen supplements work?

Collagen is a protein, and digestion of collagen supplements is often incomplete, resulting in some very large peptide chains. These long molecules are not well absorbed or utilized.

While collagen supplementation could offer some marginal (and indirect) benefits, the collagen you're eating or drinking is almost definitely not getting to your skin, according to leading dermatologists.

Most collagen supplements are not absorbed into your bloodstream, but even if they were, that doesn't mean they make it from there to your skin.

Zhaoping Li, M.D., director and division chief at the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition, doesn't think it's particularly likely that your skin is getting much help from collagen supplements. She explains that the amino acids derived from breaking down ingested collagen (like any other protein you might eat) are distributed throughout the body based on which area needs them the most. Major muscles like the heart, diaphragm, and brain are the first on the list since they are necessary to function. Skin is a MUCH lower priority.

Last but not least, most people’s diets are so acidic, their guts and microbiomes are in a chronic state of acidity, inflammation, and dysbiosis. So even if collagen supplements could perform miracles for your skin, hair, and bones, most peoples’ guts would prevent the protein peptides from even getting through the digestion process to make that happen.

Bottom line: collagen powders are expensive urine with very few benefits.

Is it safe to take collagen supplements?

Because of the reduction of collagen production as we age, I understand the desire to supplement, but could these powders do more harm than good?

Because of the reduction of collagen production as we age, I understand the desire to supplement, but could these powders do more harm than good?

In the case of bovine collagen, which comes from cows and makes up most of the collagen products on the market, they certainly can. Many bovine sources are being fed growth hormones, antibiotics, wheat, and corn.

In fact, I had a client recently who was highly inflamed and her omega-3 to omega-6 ratio was heavily skewed in favor of inflammatory fats. She said she didn't consume any sugar or grains. Upon investigation, she was a big meat eater. If you eat meat that it is not grass fed – and I can almost guarantee you that is what’s used in your standard collagen supplement – the animals have been fed antibiotics and grains, a high source of unhealthy pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids.

Beyond that, another issue with collagen products is they are so finely ground and processed into a powder (for easy mixing) that they can foam up. So, anti-caking and foaming agents are frequently added to prevent this. But anti-caking agents result in gas and bloating, belching, and digestive issues once they are consumed. Not only that, these chemicals steal from your body’s reserves to do other tasks. There is no biological free ride when it comes to what you consume.

If you choose animal-based collagen products, look at the labels to ensure there are no additional chemicals and that source is organically raised, pastured, and grass-fed. Even then, watch out for digestive issues.

Is marine collagen better than bovine sources?

A minority of collagen supplements come from marine sources – wild-caught fish – as opposed to cows or other land animals. These are a better choice than even grass-fed beef collagen powders. Marine collagen has greater absorption and bioavailability than any land animal sources.

One thing to be aware of… Collagen that comes from marine sources, such as shark cartilage, fish scales, or shellfish, contains high amounts of calcium. Most people taking these products aren’t aware of this, so they may be getting too much calcium from low-quality sources, which can cause constipation, bone pain, fatigue, nausea, and abnormal heart rhythms. As always, read those labels carefully!

Are there alkaline alternatives that actually work?

If we want to have better skin as we age, and reclaim our fountain of youth, we have to stop treating the symptoms, and start addressing the true cause, which is the inflammation, acidity, and deficiencies that are causing your skin problems in the first place.

In other words, you want to give your body the building blocks for healthy skin, nails, and hair. Here’s my 3-step plan to get to the roots of aging skin and hair to give you a youthful glow.

Step 1: Get plenty of omega-3 fats.

There are 2 highly under-rated factors that contribute to the appearance, feel, and overall quality of skin. The first is hydrating from the inside out with plenty of water each and every day. Don’t underestimate the power of hydration to fill in lines and wrinkles and plump sagging, aging skin.

That’s right – you need plenty of healthy fats that contain essential fatty acids like omega-3s to get the glowing skin you want, free from redness, dryness, and visible lines.

Here are good sources of fat to increase in your diet if you want flawless skin:

  • Wild-caught fish like fresh, cold-water salmon
  • Micro-algae oil (this is the best source for vegans and vegetarians)
  • Chia, flax, pumpkin, and hemp seeds – Pumpkin seeds in particular are high in zinc, which prevents skin dryness
  • Walnuts
  • Almonds – Packed with vitamin E, a natural sun blocker and free radical fighter, almonds are your skin’s best friends.
  • Avocado – These actually boost your body’s natural collagen production.

Step 2: Create more collagen naturally.

There are a few foods (in addition to avocados listed above) that help your body produce more natural collagen:

  • Carrots – Although they are thought of as benefiting the eyes, carrots are loaded with vitamin C, which boosts collagen production, slowing the signs of aging, and vitamin A, which prevents extra cell growth on the outer layer of skin.
  • Dark, green, leafy vegetables
  • Tomatoes
  • Garlic

Beyond food, there’s another supplement that can make your skin look younger, but it’s NOT a collagen product – it’s the precursor to collagen production.

Our bodies use silica as a precursor to producing collagen, so if you have ample silica, you don’t need animal-sourced collagen. A great supplemental silica product is Orgono Living Silica. It’s pure, liquid, and tasteless. While collagen supplements promise a quick fix (with little to back up those claims), silica might take a little longer to produce results, but stick with it because you’re addressing the roots, as we talked about.

You can also eat ample bioavailable silica in:

  • Alfalfa sprouts
  • Beets
  • Bell peppers
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Asparagus
  • Jerusalem artichokes
  • Parsley
  • Sunflower seeds

Step 3: Boost chlorophyll.

There are specific nutrients the body uses to synthesize proteins into keratin and collagen, and result in healthy hair and nails. These nutrients include vitamin B, D, E, calcium, and potassium, all of which are key for healthy hair, skin, bones and nails.

Well where can you find foods high in all of those vitamin and minerals? In chlorophyll, which in my opinion, is the most powerful support for hair, skin, nails, and connective tissues.

By the way, in addition to hair growth, chlorophyll has been found to actually slow down the progression of gray hair by continuously producing melanin in pigment cells in hair follicles!

Of course, you can eat more of all of the foods high in chlorophyll, like leafy greens, cucumbers, asparagus, broccoli, and other green veggies.

You can also start your day with Alkamind Daily Greens. You’ll not only get 5 whole-food servings of the energizing super foods, you’ll also improve the appearance of your skin, hair, and nails.

Did you know that the #1 ingredient in our greens is organic wheatgrass? It’s actually over half wheatgrass, which has been clinically proven to rejuvenate skin, enhance glow, and improve elasticity.

We’ve combined wheatgrass with cabbage, collard greens, parsley, romaine, dandelion, beets, carrots, broccoli, cucumbers, and celery. So by taking your Alkamind Daily Greens first thing every morning, you’re getting a dose of the most powerful, alkaline food on the planet!

GET OFF YOUR ACID!

Dr. Daryl


1 comment

  • Wow this is an eye opening article. I have been taking “2” different kinds of collagen Blessed Herbs and Great Lakes. I will be letting those go after reading this. Thank you Dr D for keeping us in the know about these things!

    Darlene Goode

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