What to Look for in a Collagen Supplement

Collagen has become a highly talked about supplement with its many skin, nail, hair, joint and gut benefits! There are several varieties out there to choose from and it can be overwhelming to not only know which will suit you and your health goals best but which one is the best quality and best value.

First things first - what is collagen?

Collagen is the most abundant protein in our body and is often described as the glue that holds everything together. It gives structure to important tissues such as the skin, muscles, bone, hair, tendons, and cartilage. As we age, the body’s ability to make collagen diminishes significantly, beginning around age 30, so collagen supplementation can be used to benefit skin elasticity, help strengthen nails and hair and improve joint health and mobility.

Something to note – collagen is not vegan and is usually sourced from either bovine, chicken or fish. If you follow a vegan lifestyle without animal products, you might prefer a plant-based supplement that supports your body’s own collagen production (like Organics Plant Collagen Builder).

What’s the difference between bone broth and collagen peptides?

Collagen is a very large protein. It consists of three long chains of 18 different amino acids, including three important ones called proline, hydroxyproline, and glutamine. Each molecule has three long chains wrapped around in a triple helix structure.

Because collagen is such a large molecule, the body needs to break it down in order to digest it. Bone broth is a partially-broken down form of collagen (made by boiling bones for hours). When collagen is completely digested, it’s in the form of small chains of amino acids called collagen peptides, which are easily-absorbed and are very bioavailable to the body. They travel in the bloodstream to deliver the amino acids to the tissues for building collagen.

With this in mind, collagen peptide supplements (either in powder or capsule) deliver these amino acids in a hydrolyzed form so your body doesn’t need to further break it down like it would with bone broth. Therefore, collagen peptides are considered more bioavailable and easier for your body to absorb and utilize.

What should you look for in a collagen supplement?

  1. Quality

What does it mean to get a “good quality” collagen supplement? To understand quality would mean to look for a brand’s transparency in sourcing. Where is the collagen sourced and how was the source housed, fed and treated?

Most collagen supplements are sourced from bovine, chicken or fish and these animals can be raised in many ways, some healthier than others. When a brand provides transparency in how they source their ingredients (animals or plants), it helps us to get an understanding of the quality of product we are looking at.

Garden of Life’s Grass Fed Collagen Powders are sourced from German cows, raised and originating in the European Union (EU) on smalls farm with smaller herds for easier traceability. Why is this important? The EU has strict animal welfare standards in place, which help to control the quality of life, food and treatment animals receives. Garden of Life worked hard to find the cleanest source of collagen available. For us, this was the most important part of the process: working with farmers with the same values that we uphold. Healthy cattle roam free, feeding on non-GMO grass, being treated humanely, and not being treated with antibiotics and hormones. All of this matters to us.

  1. Certifications

Having third-party certifications on a label is a trustworthy way for brands to confirm and guarantee the quality of their product. Key ones to note are: IGEN and Paleo.

Our entire collagen range is third-party certified Paleo-Friendly, which requires that herbivores must be 100% grass-fed, forage-fed and pastured. As we worked on building a supply chain for our collagen, we learned of the challenges involved in obtaining other third-party certifications for livestock. For instance, Non-GMO Project Verification does not have methods available yet for livestock, although they are working on them for us. Although we know that there are no GMOs used for our cattle and the grass is non-GMO, we needed third party verification to meet our own standards. That’s why our collagen line is tested by IGEN – the International Genetically Modified Organism Evaluation and Notification Program. IGEN is a third-party certification program developed to test for the presence of GMOs.

In addition to Paleo-Friendly and IGEN Certifications, our Collagen line is Certified Keto and NSF Gluten Free.

  1. Additional Ingredients

Depending on what kind of collagen supplement you are looking for, you might prefer a plain, unflavoured product that is just pure collagen peptides. If you’re looking for a collagen supplement that has some added nutrients for further targeted benefits, take note of these additional ingredients and their quality as well!

Garden of Life’s Grass Fed Collagen Beauty combines non-GMO hydrolyzed collagen peptides with Certified Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified plant-derived biotin (from Organic Sesbania), silica (from Organic Bamboo) and vitamin C (from Organic Amla Berry) to support your beauty goals.

  1. Efficacy

What makes a collagen supplement effective? Absorption and availability. Collagen peptides are the most efficient ways to help your body process collagen and the beneficial amino acids it provides. You can eat meat or drink bone broth but not experience the same bioavailability and optimal absorption as you would with hydrolyzed collagen peptides. Small chains of peptides are easier to absorb and utilize by the body as you are avoiding having to breakdown the proteins from bone broth or meat.

The more concentrated the amino acid profile is in a collagen supplement, and the higher amount of proline, hydroxyproline and glycine, the purer and more refined the collagen is. This shows that the collagen peptides are pre-digested and will be easier and quicker for your body to absorb.

Garden of Life’s Collagen Powders feature their amino acid profile on the backside of their labels for you!