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What is Collagen and How Does it Support Your Energy?

Posted by Dr. Charlie Ware. AP, DOM on Apr 1, 2022 10:21:09 AM

bone broth

Have you ever used a collagen supplement for shiny hair and radiant skin?

While collagen can have noticeable aesthetic advantages, it works on an even deeper level to repair the gut, boost nutrient absorption, strengthen blood vessels, and manage joint discomfort.* These profound benefits of collagen help your body reach and maintain optimal energy levels naturally.*

In recent years, collagen has become trendy in the supplement world. Let’s learn more about what it is, how to support its natural production and get it from food sources, and when it’s time to consider using supplements.

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What is collagen?

Collagen is a base amino acid and the most abundant structural protein in the human body. It is the structural protein of tendons, ligaments, skin, hair, and all cells and tissue. There are 28 different types of collagen, but the most common are collagen types 1-4.

Type 1 makes up connective tissue and accounts for around 90% of the collagen in the body. Type 2 is found in joints and shock-absorbing parts of the body, like the meniscus. Type 3 comprises blood vessels, and type 4 is present in organs, intertwined between the organs and organelle fibers.

the collagen gut energy connection

Suffering from impaired gut function and poor nutrient absorption is highly likely to manifest in low energy levels.

The intestinal lining is designed to absorb nutrients and beneficial compounds from foods and discard harmful, unnecessary compounds. Intestinal permeability, otherwise known as leaky gut, happens when toxins or bacteria in the intestinal tract “leak” through the gut wall into the bloodstream. Tiny gaps guarded by microvilli in the intestinal wall—typically called “tight junctions”—are in place to allow water and nutrients to pass through. Still, problems ensue when these junctions become damaged and allow harmful substances to cross the barrier.

Connections between microvilli are made of collagen, and you can repair damaged microvilli by adding more collagen to the diet or through supplementation. Not only does collagen help maintain and repair microvilli, but it also directly plays a role in absorption.[1] Without adequately absorbing nutrients, the body begins to experience low energy, tiredness, decreased cognitive function, and other problems ranging from uncomfortable sensations to severe health issues.[2]

other ways collagen supports energy

As a primary structural protein, collagen is well known for supporting joint discomfort and stiffness.[3] When joints are bothersome, you tend to move much less to avoid discomfort. However, exercise is crucial to building strength, increasing flexibility and mobility, and combating tiredness. A vicious cycle begins when body discomforts prevent you from exercising, and a lack of exercise leads to tiredness and sluggishness.

food sources of collagen

Bone broth is the best food source of collagen. It can be inexpensively and quickly made and kept on hand for daily consumption.

Bones from all different animals (cows, pigs, sheep, chickens, fish) offer many minerals, such as calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, and iron. Bones and bone marrow are rich in collagen, and marrow is also rich in vitamins K2 and A, omega-3 fatty acids, and minerals such as manganese, zinc, iron, and boron. Connective tissue offers supportive nutrients for bone and joint health, primarily due to its high glucosamine and chondroitin content.*

Other foods that support the body’s collagen production include eggs, citrus fruits, berries, green leafy vegetables, garlic, and most brightly colored vegetables and fruits. Sugar and refined flours can have the opposite effect by damaging collagen production.

how to supplement with collagen

If you haven’t been getting—or can’t get enough—collagen in foods, collagen supplementation might be recommended. This might also be true if you need extra collagen due to your unique health needs.

Powdered bone broth is a high-quality way to supplement collagen or bovine collagen supplements. Dosage can range dramatically depending on the reason for taking it and collagen type. A general maintenance dose for women might be five grams daily and four for men. However, amounts range anywhere from one to 15 grams, so it’s important to always discuss with your integrative provider.

related content: Four Best Supplements for gut health

takeaway

If gut function is impaired, low energy is likely to follow. To help improve the intestinal lining’s microvilli and optimize nutrient absorption with collagen, remember the following:

  • Think food first, with bone broth as the best source.
  • Plant nutrients necessary for collagen production are also crucial, such as citrus fruits, dark leafy greens, berries, and other brightly colored vegetables.
  • Supplementation with bone broth powder or bovine collagen is something to discuss with your provider if necessary.

Collagen is essential to boost energy by improving gut health and managing joint and overall body discomfort.* Start including collagen-rich foods and collagen-promoting foods in your diet today, and speak with your integrative provider about whether or not supplementation is right for you.

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[1] Chen Q, Chen O, Martins IM, Hou H, Zhao X, Blumberg JB, Li B. Collagen peptides ameliorate intestinal epithelial barrier dysfunction in immunostimulatory Caco-2 cell monolayers via enhancing tight junctions. Food Funct. 2017 Mar 22;8(3):1144-1151. doi: 10.1039/c6fo01347c. PMID: 28174772.

[2] Tardy, A. L., Pouteau, E., Marquez, D., Yilmaz, C., & Scholey, A. (2020). Vitamins and Minerals for Energy, Fatigue and Cognition: A Narrative Review of the Biochemical and Clinical Evidence. Nutrients, 12(1), 228. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12010228

[3] García-Coronado JM, Martínez-Olvera L, Elizondo-Omaña RE, Acosta-Olivo CA, Vilchez-Cavazos F, Simental-Mendía LE, Simental-Mendía M. Effect of collagen supplementation on…symptoms: a meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials. Int Orthop. 2019

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