A couple weeks ago, I answered 20 of your burning questions about collagen. Today I’m back for part two of this series with 20 MORE questions.
Before starting, let me make a general disclaimer so I don’t have to sound like a broken record: To offer an optimal supplementation strategy with any confidence, you need a fairly substantial body of evidence to draw upon. While collagen is a hot topic, there really isn’t a ton of research on collagen supplementation yet, particularly not studies done in humans. That’s not to say we’re shooting blind here. We know that collagen used to be abundant in the human diet, and we need collagen to balance out the methionine we get from meat. Plus, there is a growing (but not yet extensive) literature on collagen supplementation, as well as a fair number of studies aimed at understanding the effects of specific amino acids—glycine in particular—that are found in collagen.
All this is to say, while I can provide my educated opinion about best practices, some of the nitty-gritty questions you submitted require data we simply don’t have yet. I’m hopeful that it’s forthcoming. In the meantime, here’s what I’ve been able to glean from the available science.
Of all the topics I write about, collagen garners perhaps the most questions. Not that I’m complaining. I’m happy to wax on about the benefits of collagen all day long. I’ve said before that I consider collagen the fourth macronutrient, and it doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. The more people who get turned on to it the better, as far as I’m concerned.
Collagen used to be abundant in the human diet, back in the days before we decided that gnawing on bones, eating the stringy bits, and boiling down the skin was “icky.” We lost a significant source of critical amino acids when we started eating the lean muscle and discarding the rest, and we’re less hearty as a species because of it. And yes, my company produces a line of collagen products, but that’s not what I harp on it so much. The opposite, actually. I started making collagen supplements because I think collagen should be on everyone’s radar, not the other way around. Frankly, I don’t even consider collagen “supplemental.” It’s food.
Today I’m rapid-fire tackling twenty questions that have come in recently. A bunch more remain in the queue, so I’m already planning a follow-up post. If there’s something else you’d like me to cover, leave your question in the comments section below.
Gut health is an enormous topic that just got even bigger.
You know about probiotics: bacteria that provide benefits to our gut, metabolic, and/or overall health when eaten. Some probiotic bacteria colonize our guts—they take up residence in our digestive tract and provide lasting effects. Some probiotic bacteria are transients—they visit and impart benefits and interact with our guts and its inhabitants, but do not stay.
You also know about prebiotics: non-digestible food components that nourish and provide food for the bacteria living in our guts. Prebiotics include fermentable plant fibers, resistant starch, “animal fiber,” and certain polyphenols.
This is standard stuff. Entire store shelves are devoted to fermented dairy, pickles, sauerkraut, supplements, kombucha, and other sources of probiotics. You’ve probably got all sorts of strange gums and fibers and powders that serve as prebiotic substrate for gut bugs. Gut health is mainstream.
But you probably don’t know about postbiotics.
If you’ve been a part of the Primal, keto, or clean-eating community for a while, you’re likely well aware of all the various reasons to add collagen into your daily routine. It contains glycine, it may improve your sleep and skin elasticity, and it might even been beneficial to healing joints and injuries.
Whether you take collagen to support your hair, skin, and nails or to aid in your post-workout recovery, supplementing your diet with collagen peptides is easy and effective.
We tend to associate supplement powders with adding a scoop or two into your blender to make a midday shake or early AM smoothie, but collagen peptides can mix into virtually anything. Taking collagen can become a culinary pursuit: this versatile supplement sneaks into coffee, baked goods, savory dishes, and so much more.
Here are 12 ways to use collagen that you may not have thought of yet.
When it comes to essential nutrients, it doesn’t get much more essential than magnesium. At the most basic level, mitochondria can’t make ATP—the body’s energy currency—without magnesium. No ATP, no life. Magnesium regulates the electrical activity of the heart, helps maintain healthy vitamin D levels, and allows nerves to fire and muscles to contract. Low magnesium is associated with everything from PCOS to type 2 diabetes, depression, migraines, and cataracts, to name just a few.
This is just a snippet of magnesium’s impressive resume, which is why it’s such a popular supplement. Foods like leafy greens, nuts and seeds, and dark chocolate all contain magnesium, and drinking water actually provides magnesium, too. However, large epidemiological studies suggest that the majority of adults don’t hit the recommended daily intake of 310 to 320 mg for females and 400 to 420 mg for males. Heavy alcohol use and certain pharmaceuticals (notably diuretics and proton pump inhibitors like Nexium and Prevacid) also increase the risk of magnesium deficiency. So do gastrointestinal disorders like Chron’s and celiac disease, which interfere with nutrient absorption.
Magnesium supplements can be safe and effective for closing the gaps. Perusing the magnesium section of your local health food store is intimidating, though, to say the least. So many different types and formulations. How do you pick?
You may think of protein supplements as a concern for muscle heads, but they’re for everyone – provided that you choose the right one for you. You need dietary protein for your body’s day-to-day upkeep and to age well. Up to a third of older adults don’t get enough protein for various reasons, like reduced appetite and changing tastes. There are lots of ways to get protein, and here, I’ll go through one of the most convenient and beneficial forms: whey protein.
What is Whey Protein?
Whey is a protein-packed byproduct of cheese production. It’s that pseudo-clear liquid remaining after milk has been curdled and strained. Cheese makers used to toss it aside as waste material, until food scientists started to understand its value.
Today, we know that whey protein isn’t just a single protein. Instead, it houses an impressive array of proteins: beta-lactoglobulin, alpha-lactalbumin, and serum albumin. These are complete proteins, comprised of the essential amino acids central to protein synthesis and increased muscular hypertrophy (muscle growth).
Our bodies can produce non-essential amino acids from lesser amino acids, but we cannot produce the essentials ourselves; we must eat quality protein sources. Whey is a naturally occurring, essential protein that satisfies the body’s protein requirements – hence its popularity.