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K.C. Dermody has a 20-year background in the healthcare industry and a passion for health and wellness through natural means. She enjoys sharing her knowledge with others, inspiring them to enjoy the longest, highest quality life possible. She’s been published in a wide range of publications both online and in print, including Yahoo! Health, The Alternative Daily, Wise Living, and many more.
You’re probably familiar with collagen, it’s something that’s necessary for our bodies to survive. Without it, all of our connective tissues suffer, including the bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. Even the tissues surrounding our internal organs, holding them together, require collagen.
When we don’t get enough protein or collagen, our entire body can suffer in a myriad of different ways. Those connective tissues may begin to deteriorate and even feel painful, and you might age faster than you normally would as your skin can’t plump up internal tissues.
While it may sound a bit strange, but collagen from cows has become all the rage with health-conscious consumers. It was thrust into the spotlight after famous “Friends” star Jennifer Aniston, now 48, mentioned that she uses it to help keep her skin so young looking – it still has the same glow it did years ago. Ingestible collagen has actually been popular in Asia for years, but it’s only recently become popular in the West, with numerous brands now offering this powerful protein.
Why Collagen is So Unique
Hydrolyzed collagen protein provides a high level of a number of amino acids, including proline, lysine, and glycine, which are all essential for forming and repairing connective tissues, repairing of the bone matrix and joint surfaces, as briefly touched on earlier. It also supports healthy hair, skin, nails and more. By drinking it rather than using it topically or injecting it, the whole body is flooded with building blocks that are crucial for creating and repairing those connective tissues that typically break down when you reach your mid-20s.
Our body’s collagen production naturally starts to slow as we grow older, the very reason behind those things we often dread, like wrinkles and sagging skin, as well as joint pain. That’s because collagen is kind of like “glue,” it helps hold the body together, and when that glue starts to disintegrate, we start to fall apart. Lifestyle factors can contribute to its depletion as well, including a diet filled with sugary foods, cigarette smoking, and excess sun exposure.
Hype or Not?
As an alternative health/holistic professional, I’m always looking for natural ways to combat aging, while enhancing my health and well-being. And, of course, as I gulp, middle-aged female, I was intrigued when I learned about collagen supplements, but I needed to find out more. Was it all hype, or was there any science behind the benefits? We should all be skeptical and do our due diligence before purchasing health supplements to avoid a hit to our wallet and possibly our well-being. After doing some digging, I found that there is quite a bit of research on this hot trend.
While I ran across quite a bit of scientific research, two recent studies were most telling. The first, out of Germany was published in Skin Pharmacology and Physiology  showed that by taking a daily collagen supplement, the 45- to 65-year-old female subjects experienced an average of a 20 percent reduction in wrinkle volume in the skin around the eyes – some even had a decrease of almost 50 percent. Other research from London, England , included women, all over the age of 50, who drank collagen every day for eight weeks. Following that period, they showed dramatic improvements in the texture of their skin as well as elasticity and skin hydration. A Chicago study  discovered that taking collagen supplements is effective for relieving joint pain and even reducing symptoms of osteoarthritis. This list goes on and on.
In the process of my research, I discovered collagen may offer a number of other benefits in addition to healthier skin, hair and nails, stronger tissues and less joint pain. Taking collagen regularly may boost the metabolism, and increase lean muscle mass, which helps one to achieve or maintain an ideal weight. As collagen plays a significant role in forming connective tissues, that includes the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. If you have an unhealthy gut that can result in all sorts of health issues, but collagen can help correct that as it soothes that protective lining and aids in breaking down proteins. Taking collagen can help build tissues in the colon and GI tract, which means that it may be helpful for treating many digestive problems like Crohn’s disease, IBS, acid reflux and leaky gut.
Of course, before I’m willing to recommend any type of product, I want to know exactly what it will do for me. That meant more research as now I needed to know which brand to buy. Collagen comes in a few different forms, including foods like bone broths and gelatin, but to derive all of these benefits, it must be in the form of a hydrolyzed collagen supplement. There are a few other must factors when it comes to collagen in order to ensure you’re getting the maximum benefits minus any potentially harmful ingredients like chemicals, preservatives and the like.
The highest quality hydrolyzed collagen should meet the following criteria:
- It should only be sourced from pasture-raised, grass-fed cattle.
- It should be completely GMO-free, gluten-free and contain no preservatives, additives or chemicals of any kind.
I also wanted something that I could easily mix into both hot and cold beverages, and that was sold by a reputable company that stands behind its products.
The answer was ultimately Spearhead Nutrition’s Grass Fed Collagen Peptides as it checked all of those boxes.
While I didn’t expect an immediate change, the first thing I noticed was that I managed to stay fuller longer after consuming it. I wasn’t feeling ravenous halfway between breakfast and lunch – in fact, I managed to make it through without a problem.
I kept daily notes of how I felt and whether or not any changes were realized. After a period of four weeks, this is what I experienced:
- I lost 2 pounds total, likely because I wasn’t consuming as many snacks in-between meals as I had previously.
- I’ve suffered from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) for many years, and while symptoms significantly improved after going gluten-free, they hadn’t gone away completely. During that four-week period, I didn’t suffer from bloating, cramps or any of those usual symptoms.
- Previously, no matter how well I moisturized, I had several dry patches on my face. After a week or two of consuming collagen, they had significantly diminished, and my skin felt more soft and supple too. While I didn’t have a lot of wrinkles before taking it, I noticed that those fine lines around my eyes weren’t as prominent, and a friend even asked what I’d been doing differently because it looked like I was aging in the opposite direction.
- My left knee had been making loud creaking sounds when walking downstairs or kneeling and was sometimes painful too, but after taking collagen for less than a week, it was silent and the issue hasn’t returned yet.
Needless to say, after my four-week experiment, I was sold on Spearhead Nutrition’s Grass Fed Collagen Peptides and have turned a number of friends onto it too. It’s been several months now – my IBS symptoms have dramatically improved, my skin looks amazing, my weight is under control, I sleep better and that knee no longer sounds like an old rocking chair.