The Old Collagen Try

The Old Collagen Try

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

This post is Part 2 of a two-parter.

As I said in my previous post, I’ve been taking collagen as a supplement for many years.

It is one supplement that hasn't ended up in my “supplement graveyard.” I did take a break for a few years as habits came and went, but I’ve been pretty consistent for several months now, especially since my morning ritual includes making coffee and pouring it for my partner and me.

I keep his simple with some sugar-free flavour syrup and 35% cream. My condiments of choice make my first cup kind of fancy:

There’s always 35% cream in that first cup along with a collagen powder and whatever sweetener I feel like having that day. Sometimes I choose a sugar-free flavour syrup, which is the only time I’ll ever ingest sucralose, aka Splenda. Other days I prefer a granulated non-sugar sweetener, specifically an erythritol-monkfruit blend that I buy at Bulk Barn.

Additional ingredients depending on what I feel like that day: Cacao powder, cinnamon, MCT oil, vanilla extract.

Always collagen, and mixed with a milk frother (previously I used a stick blender, and before that, a Vitamix – my appliances keep getting smaller).

Coffee + yoga schedule

This was my coffee on January 15.

I like how collagen helps coffee froth, even when I don’t use cream, and I like how collagen supplementation makes me feel. Some of the positive effects might be all in my head, but I do see some physical benefits. Consuming collagen might contribute to my overall health, including keeping my nails strong and my hair not grey, it might be holding symptoms of depression at bay, and consuming collagen daily might be one of the reasons that I look younger than my age.

When I began taking collagen, the choice was limited. Most people, including myself, used the Great Lakes brand, available sourced from pig or cow. I had to buy it online. Now, there are so many brands and each brand has several varieties and lines. The iHerb website lists 222 products in their collagen category. Amazon's got over 1,000 results under the search term, “collagen“.

I can't say that I've tried collagen from every company but I've tried a few. Perhaps as I try more, I'll post about those too.

Some companies have several lines of collagen products. In addition to collagen peptides (the basic collagen powder), many companies now make collagen creamer with MCT oil powder (for coffee) and collagen shots, in addition to other products to get ahead in the market.

Collagen creamer is a product I’ve been seeing more of recently.

Today, before blending & frothing.

Sproos Collagen

Several months ago the PR company that represents Sproos sent me a full-size (300g) container of Sproos Grass-Fed Collagen along with sample sizes of some of their other products – sizes small enough to taste but not assess the efficiency or quality of.

Sproos Collagen package

This

I used that container, and then bought a container of Organika Enhanced Collagen (original)

Both are sourced from cows.

It seems a bit odd to compare the two now, as I’d originally intended, but I’ve already committed.

Here’s a quick overview:

Sproos’s website describes their product as,

Hydrolyzed bovine collagen peptides sourced from the hides of grass-fed, pasture-raised North American cattle, to help restore and rebuild your body’s natural collagen.

Organika’s website also describes their product as coming from grass-fed cows (they don’t say which part of the cow) and mentions that it’s free from antibiotics, hormones and GMOs. Both mention the benefits of their product of course, but my last post addressed the benefits.

  • Both Sproos Grass-Fed Collagen and Organika Enhanced Collagen are, as I said, sourced from cows
  • Both suggest a 10-gram serving size.
  • They both have the same nutritional profile, with the same amino acids. Sproos’s label lists the amino acids profile in milligrams per serving, while Organika’s goes by percentage per serving. I can’t do an exact comparison, but they appear comparable, having less or more of each amino acid. This is because they both use bovine-derived collagen and only that, so there’s no reason for the amounts per serving to deviate.
  • They both have a neutral taste.
  • Both Sproos and Organika are Canadian companies, which I’m happy and rather support because of the current economic and political climates. Sproos is headquartered in Whistler, BC and Organika is based in Richmond, BC.

If I have to list distinguishing features (because I’m comparing):

Package:

I like Sproos’s package design a bit better, which has nothing to do with the product or its quality.

Size and price:

  • Sproos has 30 servings per 300-gram container. The price is listed as $34.99 on their website. (They also offer boxes of individually packed servings.)
  • I bought the 250-gram (25 serving) container of the Organika product. They also offer 150-gram and 500-gram containers. Their website links to their Amazon store, which sells the 25 serving container for $29.99
  • Comparing these Sproos and Organika products, the price difference is negligible, with $1.17/serving for Sproos and $1.19/serving for Organika.

My preference

Given what I said above, you’d think that I don’t have a preference between the two. I do, though, and it comes down to one aspect of user experience.

I’d tease it, but your eyes have already caught what’s below, so the reason why I prefer Sproos’s collagen product over Organika’s is clear:

measuring scoop

The measuring scoop.

It's a small thing but it makes a significant difference for me.

User. Experience.

I could – and do – measure out two Tablespoons but I’d rather keep a scoop in the container and keep my measuring spoon clean for other uses, such as making single-serve keto-friendly chocolate cakes.

The same goes for other Organika products that I've bought, which I might address in another post: A scoop would be a benefit to using the products. Not that the lack of scoop is a barrier, but it helps.

My next purchases

I now have a strategy for my next collagen purchases, based on what I learned from my research and this measurement preference:

My next container of collagen will be Sproos Marine Collagen, which is also 10 grams of collagen per serving but made from fish skin. (Organika’s fish-sourced collagen comes from freshwater cod, with 9 grams of collagen per serving.)

Sproos also sent me single-serving samples of two of their three Enhanced Collagen beverage crystals, which address gut, skin & hair and joints, respectively. I’d like to try the third.

Subsequently, I look forward to trying Organika’s Full Spectrum because there are several types of collagen and I feel that our bodies might need all of them, but I’ll keep the scoop from the Sproos jar. The Full Spectrum product hasn’t yet been released, but I discovered it on their website.

Although they’re one of my favourite companies in this industry and are Toronto-based like me, I haven’t yet tried the collagen from Genuine Health. Their bovine-derived collagen seems comparable to the others. Their marine collagen contains 10g per serving and is sourced from from “wild caught fish” (skin).

I think that when/if I buy bovine collagen again, I’ll go with whichever of the three is on sale as long as I've kept a measuring scoop.

I’ll keep you posted.

Collagen For Health

Collagen For Health

Estimated Reading Time: 9 minutes

supplements-collagen-health

Do you use collagen as a supplement? I do. It's one supplement that hasn't ended up in my “supplement graveyard”. I've been taking it for several years.

A year ago, WebMD stated that Americans are expected to spend $122 million on collagen products in 2018.

Indeed, collagen has gained popularity, in part with the alternative medicine crowd, the functional medicine doctors, the Bulletproof followers who add collagen to their coffee, which is the way I was introduced to the concept (as Dave Asprey “biohacks” his way to… whatever his health goal is).

This post was supposed to be a review of two collagen supplements that I've recently used, but as the introduction got longer, I realized that the opening was a post of its own. The review follows (also linked at the bottom of this post).

Are you blindly following the trends?

I couldn't talk about collagen products without talking about what collagen and collagen peptides are and why everyone needs a healthy amount of collagen in their body. My decision to provide that background wasn't because I'm writing for search engines (though part way through I realized that I was reflexively doing so because I've been a content writer for two decades), it's because you might need that information.

I believe that if you add or remove nutrients from your diet, you should know about those nutrients, their function, and their potential effect on your body. One of my pet peeves is people who cut gluten from their diet but don't know what gluten is. Many people don't know what a “calorie” is but associate it negatively and so assume that calories are bad when they're neither good nor bad.

Whether you're adding or removing “carbs” (carbohydrates), increasing or decreasing your fat intake or adding zinc or any other mineral, you should know why. All of these actions are part of a health strategy.

Goal + Action  = Result*
(*or lack of result, which means that the plan needs to change.)

Examples:

“I want to [lose 10 lbs/have more energy/have more focus/have clearer skin] so I will [eat more fish/consume protein powder/drink more water/cut out sugar]”. You can also state HOW you'll do it.

If you don't know why you're changing your intake, don't do it. “Because someone told me I should” or because “it's worked for other people” are not a good enough reasons, IMO, although the latter is a step in the right direction. If it's worked for a lot of other people, find out what.

Trying different things to see what makes you feel better is valid. “Feeling better” is a legitimate goal.

It reminds me that for years I told my mother that if she wants her business to be on particular social media channels, she needs to have a reason other than, “I heard I should.”

Few “shoulds” are universal, and it's dangerous to follow advice blindly.

So, that's my introduction to what initially began as an introduction to something else and took an entire day to write Let's move on.

collagen health molecule

Tropocollagen molecule

What Is Collagen?

We are all made from collagen. Collagen is us. Collagen is the most abundant protein in mammals and is the main structural protein in the space outside of the cells in the various connective tissues in the body. These connective tissues and body parts include tendons, ligaments, skin and muscles.

The word collagen itself originated in 1843, from French collagène, from Latinized form of Greek kolla “glue” + –gen “giving birth to”.

It makes sense, then, that collagen is often described collagen as, “the glue that holds the body together.”

There are over 15 types of collagen in the body, but most of the collagen in our body consists of three types, with Type 1 being the most abundant. It would be too much for me to explain all the types right now, but here's an explanation of the most abundant types of collagen in the body.

How Collagen is Made

Collagen is made up of around 20 long chains of linked amino acids.

Arginine

Alanine

Aspartic acid

Glutamic acid

Glycine

Histidine

Hydroxylysine

Hydroxyproline

Isoleucine

Leucine

Lysine

Proline

Serine

Threonine

Tyrosine

Different cells in our body tissues are responsible for the production of collagen. Cells use specific amino acids and peptides – little proteins – to form collagen.

Collagen peptides – aka hydrolyzed collagen or collagen hydrolysate – contain the same set of amino acids and nutrients as collagen but have undergone a process called hydrolysis to break them down into shorter chains of proteins.

Collagen powder, then, naturally contain those amino acids.

8+ Benefits of Collagen

layers of skin diagram for collagen health

Your epidermis is showing!

1. “Anti-aging”: Collagen For Skin Health

As you may have gathered from ads for anti-ageing products, collagen plays an important part in skin health. In the 1980s it became a popular skincare product additive and injectable filler to plump lips and soften lines. Collagen makes up about 75% of the dry weight of your skin, providing that which keeps skin looking plump and helps delay those lines we call “wrinkles” or reduce their appearance.

Note that I've chosen my words carefully here based on summarizing and rewording my research in addition to the knowledge already in my memory. The term “anti-ageing” bothers me. We all age, and we all WILL wrinkle. What we put in our body and on our skin can help improve our skin's health and appearance but don't expect to look 30 forever.

As you age, your body produces less collagen, leading to dry skin and the formation of wrinkles. Skin dryness can make wrinkles look more pronounced, hence those “before and after moisturizer” photos. Collagen supplements stimulate your body to produce more collagen. Several studies have shown that collagen peptides or supplements containing collagen may help reduce wrinkles and dryness. Collagen contributes to the elasticity and strength of your skin.

I want to add that several factors result in individuals looking physically older or younger. This includes health (illness can age a person), race (you know how Asians and blacks seem to go from youthful-looking to “old”, which I probably wouldn't mention race if Shonda Rhimes hadn't acknowledged it in her book), physical fitness, diet (vegans often lack collagen), stress levels, and genetics (that's my family).

2. Collagen For Hair Health

Healthy hair, collagen health

Photo by Tamara Bellis on Unsplash (Not my hair.)

There are 11 nonessential amino acids that your body can make and nine essential ones that you need to obtain from your diet. Collagen is primarily made up of 3 nonessential amino acids: proline, glycine, and hydroxyproline

Hair is mostly made up of the protein keratin. Proline is also the main component of keratin.  So, consuming amino acid proline can help maintain hair health.

The anti-aging connection between collagen and hair

Because collagen contributes to the elasticity and strength of your skin and the body produces less collagen over time, a lack of collagen can be a contributing cause of thinning of hair. A lot of older women experience thinning hair.  (Men too, but thin hair and baldness are also tied to testosterone.)

Collagen has antioxidant properties, which fight cell damage and slow graying. According to a study in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, free radical damage to the cells that produce hair colour may also play a role in greying hair.

Amelanotic melanocytes at the outer root sheath (ORS) are somewhat less affected by these processes and survive for longer time [sic] even within the white, ageing hair follicles.

This statement suggests that the hair at the root might not be grey or white and that there's something going on at skin level.

How do we assess how old people look? Wrinkles and grey hair.

3. Collagen For Nail Health

Taking collagen could increase the strength of your nails. Brittle nail syndrome is a common problem among women and refers to nails that exhibit surface roughness and peeling. In a study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, bioactive collagen peptides treatment promoted an increase of 12% nail growth rate and a decrease of 42% in the frequency of broken nails.

Additionally, 64% of participants achieved a global clinical improvement in brittle nails, and 88% of participants experienced an improvement four weeks post-treatment.

heart, bones, collagen health

4. Collagen for Joint Health

Studies have shown collagen supplements to help with arthritis pain and sports-related joint pain. Not an athlete? You might still benefit. Because the amount of collagen in your body decreases as you age, your risk of developing degenerative joint disorders such as osteoarthritis increases as you get older.

Chicken-sourced collagen is best of joint health.

5. Collagen and Bone Health

90% of bone matrix proteins consist of collagen. As mentioned above, decreased collagen in the body can lead to osteoarthritis. It can also contribute to osteoporosis. A German study reported that supplementing with 5 g of collagen peptides significantly increased bone mineral density of the lumbar spine and the femoral neck, in postmenopausal women with age-related decline in bone mineral density.

Bone density would also affect athletic performance.

6. Collagen and Your Heart

Collagen affects cardiovascular health in several ways.

Collagen provides structure to your arteries, the blood vessels that carry blood from your heart to the rest of your body. Collagen has been linked to the preventing arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Arteriosclerosis can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

The amino acid proline may help to obliterate fat deposits in the arteries and repair tissue within the arteries.

It reduces arterial stiffness, which is a marker of cardiovascular disease and provides anti-inflammatory and antioxidant support.

Collagen has also been shown to help control blood pressure.

leaky gut, collagen health

7. Collagen and Gut Health

When you have a leaky gut, toxins, food particles, and infections can pass through your intestinal wall and into your bloodstream, causing inflammation, and over time this chronic inflammation can lead to autoimmunity.  The gut houses nearly 60-80% of your immune system. Inflammation is an immune response.

Collagen has the potential to heal your gut. Here's where I think that the form of collagen matters. I suspect that a soup made from bones would be more beneficial than a collagen supplement because bones have so many gut healing properties. On my old website, I had a blog series about the healing properties of soup, and I discussed that chicken soup is scientifically proven to help a cold. (I also discussed ramen and pho.)

8. Collagen and the Brain

A  lot of this information is new to me, but by now I've figured out that if collagen fights inflammation, it must be beneficial for the brain. Inflammation in the brain causes all sorts of symptoms, including those related to ADHD, depression, Alzheimer's and dementia.

According to Science Daily (thank you, validation), Scientists have discovered that a particular type of collagen protects brain cells against amyloid-beta proteins, which are widely thought to cause Alzheimer's disease.

While the functions of collagens in cartilage and muscle are well established, before this study it was unknown that collagen VI is made by neurons in the brain and that it can fulfill important neuroprotective functions.

I love the idea that collagen can be neuroprotective.

Other Benefits of Collagen

Collagen is a major component of muscle tissue. At least one study has shown that taking collagen while strength training can increase muscle mass and decrease fat mass. The evidence is lacking, but given collagen's other benefits, it can't hurt.

Glycine can help liver detoxification. I think that “detoxing” is oversimplified and an exercise that's often used incorrectly and unnecessarily. Not everyone needs liver detoxification – and detoxification is a multi-stage process. If you're already supporting your liver in ways that include ensuring adequate glycine, you're ahead.

Some preliminary studies suggest an anti-fatigue effect.

Downsides to collagen

If you tend to have low serotonin, take note:

I've only seen reference to this in one place, in a newsletter that I received last June. According to Trudy Scott, collagen can cause anxiety and disturb mood disorders. The solution, she says, isn't to stop taking collagen with all of its amazing benefits, but to add the amino acid tryptophan – the one that people claim is responsible for your post-turkey coma (the tiredness is probably because you overate, not because of the tryptophan).

Sources of collagen

There are four primary sources of collagen, all animal based. They all have amino acids but don't have the same amounts of each amino acid.

  1. Chicken collagen
  2. Bovine (cow) collagen
  3. Porcine (pig) collagen
  4. Fish collagen, aka marine collagen – the most bioavailable source.

There's also eggshell membrane collagen.

While there are no vegetarian or vegan sources of collagen, nutrients such as vitamin C can increase the bioavailability of collagen and can help support natural collagen production. It's not the same thing, but it's one of the compromises that one can choose to make.

In the past, I've had bovine and porcine collagen and think I'll try marine collagen next.

That's the end of this part. Studies linked below:

Read Part 2
“I’m sick of being told ADD is a crutch.”

“I’m sick of being told ADD is a crutch.”

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Last week this came to my inbox as a notification to a post in a forum that I subscribe to. I deleted that email but woke up thinking about it this morning, and an answer popped into my head as if the angels demanded that I answer. I decided to reply to the question on the forum and also share it here. This is the full version, which I had to cut down to post to the forum (links and images added):


I wasn't going to reply to this one, but when I woke up this morning, I remembered seeing it last week, and an answer popped into my head.

First: Are you using it as a crutch? Be honest with yourself. You might be, even if you don't realize it. ADHD is challenging, no doubt, but I've used the label as a crutch in the past, and I've seen others do it. We (humans) often hold ourselves back due to our limiting beliefs and the stories we tell ourselves.

brain

Secondly: We are what we believe we are. Our subconscious, which seeks to be right, controls 95% of what we do in our daily life. We are what we think we are.

Going back to using ADHD as a crutch without realizing it: You can be doing everything “right” in terms of tools and productivity and not even be aware of the garbage in your subconscious.

Of course, ADHD affects our brain function and thus our actions, but ADHD isn't 100% who we are, and we can help mitigate its effects.

Thirdly: The fact that you're upset that your friends suggested it to you might or might not be an indication that you are using it as a crutch – not because she's making a correct observation, but because on some level, you're uncomfortable with being called on it. No one likes to be called out. Again, I'm not telling what your reality is; I'm giving you possibilities to consider.

Fourthly: No one can “make” you feel anything. What people's words and actions do are trigger feelings within us that come from our own stories, biases and insecurities. Their words and actions are the results of their narratives, experiences, biases and insecurities. You can't do anything about her thoughts, only yours.

5. Why do you care what she says? You can decide not to give a fuck. Don't give your friend that power. You get to choose how you feel and whether you remain in those feelings.

Her urging you to keep all your things in one spot or “just start making to-do lists” are not helpful. They're simplistic and show a lack of understanding and compassion. However, that's her shit, not yours. Her words are an expression of what she projects onto you. Your feelings project right back. Don't take the bait. Don't be the projection screen. Shield yourself.

Imagine yourself like Wonder Woman with cuffs that deflect her words.

wonder woman power

Again, decide not to give a fuck. Take that power back. Trust me; life is so much better when you decide not to. (Also, I recommend two books with “f*ck” in the title: Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and into Your Life by Gary John Bishop and “The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck” by Sarah Knight.)

6. I believe that the stress of caring what others think can make our ADHD symptoms worse.

I suspect that you feel your ADHD more intensely when you're stressed or panicked. The fight you had with your friend, the remaining stories in your head, reading this entire forum conversation, etc., could make it worse for you because of the part of the brain that stress stimulates. The hypothalamus plays a role in regulating emotional response. It produces hormones that influence the body’s response to both physical and emotional stress. This is going to affect your depression and anxiety!! The good news is that you can control this part. People with ADHD tend to obsess over the negative stories. We function better when we're relaxed instead of stressed.

Your problems with ADD, depression, and anxiety are NOT your fault, but your brain and mind are fighting against you. Saying “I’m just not coping well.” could be another story that you're telling yourself, which perpetuates itself. What happens when you change the narrative? What happens when you lean into the feelings rather than fight them?

7. Choose love over hate towards yourself and your friend. Decide that you ARE coping. One of my favourite mantras: “I choose love instead of this.”
(More book recommendations: Gabrielle Bernstein has lots of good books teaching to see love instead of fear and forgiving one's self.)

As someone above said,

it can be your reason, but I challenge you not to use it as an excuse. It is empowering to have a label for the reasoning behind your executive function issues. Your choices are still your own, what is holding you back from implementing these things that you have researched?

We can't control other people's behaviour but we can control how we react and who we spend time with.

I hope this helps. I empathize.

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