A Naturopath Explains: Collagen Powders
Collagen powders are marketed everywhere at the moment as the latest and greatest supplemental food. Hailed as edible protection against wrinkles, lines and sagging skin, collagen powders talk a big game! So that is the logic behind the collagen claims? Collagen is a type of protein that is manufactured in the body from amino acids and minerals. It serves a great purpose, being one of the most abundant proteins in the body. It is the great connector, holding together connective tissue such as skin, tendons, ligaments, bones and muscles.
What is exactly is collagen?
The building blocks of collagen (such as proline, vitamin C, arginine, hydroxyproline etc) can be found from many different food sources. Even if you’re eating these foods, the body still has to digest, metabolise and absorb those nutrients and THEN put these together to make collagen. If you are consuming collagen in its entire structure, the acid and enzymes produced by the digestive system break those proteins back down into their individual parts. Once broken down, whatever is left of your collagen powder may or may not be used to repair the skin. Unfortunately collagen powder does not go straight from the tub on your bench into your body and start plugging up those smile lines! The body will always prioritise where it uses its resources (nutrients), so if these nutrients are needed for detoxification or organ function, your skin will be a lower priority!
Want collagen for healthy skin?
The best thing you can do for your skin is to provide your body with the ingredients it needs to create supple, healthy skin. This includes the aforementioned amino acids, zinc, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, healthy fats from food, plenty of filtered water and as little refined sugar as you can manage. When it comes to eating your way to healthy skin - what with the body’s hierarchy of needs and the fact that skin turns over a new layer every 6 weeks - consistency is key.
Don’t throw away your collagen powder just yet, I am still a fan of high quality collagen powders as they usually offer a protein base free from flavourings, sugar, fillers and whey. The amino acids found in hydrolysed collagen powders for example, can be beneficial for healing the gut and providing glycine for the production of calming neurotransmitters and promoting positive mood. Over time, you may indeed see some benefits to your skin, once the body has repaired on a deeper level.