Why Collagens Are A Powerhouse Supplement & How To Choose The Best One For You

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As more and more collagen supplements and products appear in the marketplace today, you may be wondering what all the fuss is about.

Or, if you're already a convert as I am, you may be wondering how to maximize the effectiveness and make sure you get the biggest bang for your buck.

The whole collagen thing can be a bit daunting. All collagens are not created equal.

Some work, some hurt (if used incorrectly), and some are made from ingredients that are not as beneficial as the truly great ones.

Collagen is a significant part of my re-feeding protocol for eating disorder patients.

It aids in restoring muscle, bone mass, brain function, improves hair growth, strengthens teeth and gums, as well as helping repair damaged intestines.

RELATED: 20 Best Collagen Peptides To Nourish Your Skin And Body

What are collagen supplements and why are they so important?

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, at almost 30 percent of the body’s total protein.

You might call it the glue that holds you together, literally, as it's the basis for connective tissue. It keeps your bones, tendons, ligaments, and skin healthy.

Although the body makes its own collagen molecules, production starts to slow down as you age, resulting in the breakdown of tissues associated with getting older — wrinkled, sagging skin and weaker, painful joints.

So here's the good news: You really can maintain and replenish collagen with certain foods and high-quality collagen supplements. When you do, you can expect good results.

It's especially important to know the different types of collagen, as there are critical differences in each so that you can use collagen in the most effective way to support your body.

Here are the 3 types of collagen and find out which one is the best for you.

Type 1 Collagen 

Most abundant in marine collagen, Type 1 targets skin, nails, teeth, and hair by minimizing fine lines and wrinkles, improving skin elasticity and hydration, and strengthening teeth.

It also helps to rebuild muscles (re-build is important), improves vision, and supports the spine and bones.

Avoid collagen that comes in a combination of all types. Some collagen comes in a combination of only Type 1 and Type 3.

But if you want only Type 1, Natural Force Marine Collagen is sourced from wild-caught cod and is particularly rich in Type 1 Collagen, making it the best choice for those specifically seeking the benefits of Type 1.

Type 1 and Type 3 collagen are best for healing the gut lining. Type 1 collagen from marine sources is especially good for healing the tight junctions of your intestinal tract.

Type 2 Collagen

Type 2 Collagen is best sourced from bone broth. It targets the protein molecules in your cartilage and connective tissue.

This protects your bones at the joints and in your spinal disks, making it a potent way to support joint health. Finally, it's good for the eyes.

Since Type 2 Collagen makes up the majority of the protein molecules in your cartilage, the connective tissue that protects your bones at the joints, it's particularly important to have in your diet as you age.

Cartilage deterioration causes a lot of joint pain, so this is the collagen type known for helping with joint health.

Type 2 can help with activity-related joint pain and inflammation at any age, so don’t wait until you're in pain to start taking Type 2 Collagen. 

The best source for Type 2 Collagen is good, old bone broth.

Type 3 Collagen

Type 3 Collagen, which is sourced from bovine protein, is found in large quantities in your intestines, muscles, blood vessels, and uterus. It's most often used with Type 1 collagen for gut healing.

I recommend it to all of my patients to support their gut health, especially to those suffering from leaky gut. It's usually found in combination with Type 1 collagen, and as such, is great for gut healing and to improve skin elasticity and hydration.

RELATED: 20 Best Collagen Gummies For Youthful-Looking Skin

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Collagen and the human body.

Your body makes collagen proteins from three amino acids: proline, glycine, and hydroxyproline.

While all of these amino acids come from food, some are harder to come by than others.

Hydroxyproline, for instance, is found almost exclusively in collagen from animal sources. So if you're vegetarian, you will not be getting this important ingredient.

Finding the best collagen for you.

The research shows that it is probably best not to combine Types 1, 2, and 3. Types 1 and 3 work well together, but less so if you add in Type 2 or other types.

In fact, putting them together can have an adverse effect.

Since Type 2 is bone broth, I have a cup of homemade bone broth every day by itself and use a combo of Type 1 and 3, 100 percent grass-fed organic collagen powder, that's GMO-free, paleo-friendly, and rich in bovine and marine collagen.

This, I put in a smoothie that also contains vitamin C and hyaluronic acid. So having a smoothie with Type 1 and Type 3 Collagen plus a cup of bone broth is the best of both worlds.

What collagens to avoid.

What you don’t want is a collagen powder that includes the bone broth, or Type 2, as the ingredients compete with each other, nor do you want collagen that has five or more types of collagen in it.

Maximizing the benefits of collagen.

The key to maximizing the benefits of collagen is to use only collagen products that come from grass-fed, pasture-raised (in the case of bovine collagen), or wild-caught sources (for marine collagen).

Fortunately, there are some very good ones out there. I like Garden of Life, but as long as the one you're looking at is non-GMO, 100 percent grass-fed, made with collagen peptides, and paleo-friendly, you're good to go.

RELATED: 7 Weird, Harmful Collagen Side Effects You Need To Know About

Renae Norton is a psychologist and offers an alternative to inpatient treatment for severe cases of anorexia, bulimia, or a combination of the two. For more information, visit her website, Eating Disorder Pro.

This article was originally published at Norton Wellness Institute Newsletter. Reprinted with permission from the author.