Whole Food Center
You can find collagen in almost everything these days, from powders and protein bars to collagen water (yum?).
What exactly is collagen and what does it do?
Collagen is the main structural protein found in skin and other connective tissues.
Collagen is a hard, insoluble, and fibrous protein that makes up one-third of the protein in the human body.
It gives skin strength and elasticity.
There are at least 16 different types of collagen, but 80 to 90 percent of them belong to types 1, 2, and 3. These different types have different structures and functions.
Collagen is secreted by various cells, but mainly by connective tissue cells.
It is found in the extracellular matrix. This is an intricate network of macromolecules that determines the physical properties of body tissues. A macromolecule is a molecule containing a large number of atoms.
With age, collagen weakens, leading to wrinkles and cartilage problems.
In the dermis or the middle layer of skin, collagen helps form a fibrous network of cells called fibroblasts, upon which new cells can grow. It also plays a role in replacing and restoring dead skin cells.
Some collagens act as protective coverings for delicate organs in the body, such as the kidneys.
With age, the body produces less collagen. The structural integrity of the skin declines. Wrinkles form, and joint cartilage weakens.
Women experience a dramatic reduction in collagen synthesis after menopause.
By the age of 60 years, a considerable decline in collagen production is normal.
There are some important questions that need to be answered in order to choose a good collagen supplement.
How are most collagen supplements made and what are they made from?
For food or nutritional purpose, collagen is broken down into gelatine which can be broken down further into hydrolyzed collagen. The processes involved in processing hydrolyzed collagen are demineralization, extraction of collagen to gelatine, enzymatic hydrolysis to obtain hydrolyzed collagen, ion exchange, filtration, evaporation, sterilization and finally drying. That seems like a very heavily processed product, not the simple protein powder or whole food supplement that companies like to make them out to be.
While most people believe that collagen supplements are made from bones or other edible parts of an animal, collagen supplements are generally made from the inedible and indigestible parts of animals like the hide of cows or the scales of fish, which is why they require so much processing to make them into something edible. These parts are very cheap for companies to buy, allowing them to make a huge profit, while charging you a premium price, for materials they get for next to nothing.
Some companies do claim to use parts from grass-fed or organic animals, although many are derived from regular feed-lot cattle. While this is generally better for you, a product that is so processed and only has a few isolated amino acids left, is not going to provide any of the normal health benefits associated with grass-fed animal products and glandulars, because all of the other compounds have been removed.
These types of collagen products would definitely not meet the Rooted Nutrition definition of a whole food. They are just a blend of isolated amino acids. They are missing so many compounds that would normally be found in foods rich in collagen such as:
Whole proteins, amino acids and growth factor proteins, such as Igf1, Cdgf, Tgfb1
Mucopolysaccharides such as low molecular weight chondroitin (The lower the molecular weight, the better absorbed the chondroitin is)
A real whole food collagen is minimally processed. It is made from healthy animals only fed grasses and not pumped full of hormones and antibiotics. It should be made from whole, edible, animal parts - not leftover scraps and hide. It contains all the naturally occurring compounds present in the whole food. It is not acid washed, demineralized, removed, ion-exchanged, or sterilized. Whole food collagen is produced very simply. Protease, an enzyme, is applied to remove the non-cartilage parts of the raw material, then it is freeze-dried. That’s it. Much much different than regular collagen products.
Our collagen is sourced from small New Zealand Family farms. We can trace our product back to the exact region of New Zealand where the farms are and the exact facility where the animal parts go from whole to powder. You cannot say that for the vast majority of collagen products. New Zealand has never had a case of mad cow disease and there is strict monitoring and testing of the cattle to make sure it is not present. Collagen supplements can have contamination with things like heavy metals such as lead and arsenic. Because of the purity of the source, our whole food collagen is free of the heavy metal contamination present in many regular collagen powders. Each batch is third party lab tested to verify that the product is free of other contaminants as well. Don’t settle for inferior, heavily processed collagens, they are the white bread of collagens. Get the real deal and give your body what it really needs, whole food.