It’s not your imagination: you have been hearing more about collagen lately. But what is it? Should you be taking it? How? We asked Amber Vitale, a certified nutritionist and regional educator for Garden of Life—an agricultural company that sells supplements from the cleanest, most traceable sources of real food and botanicals—to help clear up some of the confusion. —Noa Nichol
Who should be taking collagen, and why? What are the benefits?
Collagen supplements can be beneficial to a wide variety of people, from young athletes to aging retirees. Most come to it first for slowing the effects of aging, both internally and externally, and it is well proven for hair, skin, nails and joint health. We can get native whole collagen from the foods we eat from animals, but only if we eat all the parts. Bone broth, for example, contains partially broken-down collagen full of gelatin (partially hydrolyzed collagen). In supplement form, the effective derivative of this native collagen is fully hydrolyzed collagen called peptides. These are sold as a white powder that’s easy to digest and absorb and can be added to and flavoured with practically anything. Consuming collagen peptides sourced from cows, pigs, chicken, game and fish gives consumers a “fast track” to repair in their bodies because they do not have to make collagen entirely from scratch.
What types of collagen products does Garden of Life offer? What makes them unique?
Our collagen peptides powder is the clean, traceable, third-party certified base for all our collagen products. We source from 100 per cent grass-and-forage-fed and pastured bovine as verified by Paleo Foundation. Our finished products contain no GMOs as verified by IGEN. Bovine-hide collagen is rich in amino acids glycine, proline and hydroxyproline, among others, and can provide your body with what it needs to repair all collagen structures. Using these peptides, we also offer two flavours of beauty collagen with cofactors of vitamin C, biotin and silica from plant sources to support healthy hair, skin and nails. We also offer a turmeric and collagen peptide combo for joints and mobility. Any of our collagen products, regardless of their focus, will help a consumer with all collagen structures in their bodies. People usually take between 10 and 40 grams a day, depending on their needs. For example, if you are only looking to improve the elasticity and youthfulness of your skin, 10 grams a day may be adequate. However, if you have damaged and stiff joints and are also over 40 and looking to reduce the visible signs of aging in your skin, you may need more. Athletes often consume extra, as do those recovering from surgeries.
Sourcing, traceability and certifications are clearly important pillars for Garden of Life, but why should consumers care?
It is our mission to promote agricultural systems that are healthier for the soil, air, water, farmers, ranchers, families, communities and for the animals themselves. We care about how food is grown, including food fed to animals. How we grow our plants affects our local environments directly, and eventually the end consumer as well.
How do we go about choosing and using collagen correctly, for maximum benefits?
The easiest thing is to choose a product labelled for your most pressing needs. Any collagen peptide product will support collagen production for your whole body. Added ingredients offer additional support that will be indicated on the label. Any “type” of collagen (really, just a way to know what part of the animal it came from) will be rich in the amino acids you need. Decide how many grams you will take based upon the level of repair you need, and, if you are taking more than 10 to 12 grams a day, split the doses for best utilization. Finally, choose a product that suits your lifestyle. If you want it in coffee, pick a plain peptide product. If you want it as a cool, refreshing drink with water, pick a flavoured product. When it comes down to it, collagen peptides in plain water or in a powdered or fresh juice is likely the most absorbable and will give you the most bang for your buck.
Any “cool” tips on how to incorporate Garden of Life grass-fed collagen into tasty summer treats?
One of the best summer treats is using the Beauty or the Turmeric Collagen products to make popsicles! Collagen can also be added to ice cream, if you’re making it from scratch. Get more great recipes on our website!