Let's talk about collagen

4.20.2021: If my Facebook timeline is to be believed, collagen is having a moment. It would appear that the multi-level marketing firm of Isagenix has come out with an "elixir" that has collagen as a primary ingredient. I'm not linking to the company because I think the whole thing is a scam.

Collagen and its effects, however, are not a scam. Collagen is basically pure (animal) protein and is found in bon broths. The paleo diet followers have been touting bone broth as a magical elixir for years. But Isagenix has upped the volume to 11, and is charging roughly $40 for 10 "elixirs" that each contain 5g of fish protein. So, 50g of protein for $40

In contrast, Amazon is selling Great Lakes canisters of beef derived (kosher, gluten free etc) for about $20. Each canister contains 38 servings of 12g of protein, or 456g (1 pound) of protein for $20. Yes, yes, the "elixir" contains fruit juices and other filler, but the point of the exercise is to ingest collagen.

Does the source of the collagen matter? By which I mean is fish protein inherently better than beef derived protein— I'm assuming that both sources adhere to prevailing health and safety standards. Just for the record, you don't get the kosher credo if you don't.

No, there is no meaningful difference between collagen derived from fish or beef. They are both processed, and the end result is the same.

Does collagen work?

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Image source: naturwohl-gesundheit from Pixabay

This is based on my personal experience. We bought collagen years ago as a way to help my dancer daughter's joints. She didn't really like the idea of taking it, and so didn't. A few weeks ago I pulled out the almost decade old canister to try it for myself. I certainly wasn't going to join the Isagenix scam to try it. I decided to add a scoop (half a serving, so about 6g of protein) to see if I would have any of the "amazing" and "life changing" or "miraculous" effects my scammer Facebook friend kept touting. I did not have high expectations.

I should note that we make plenty of bone broth here at home, but we don't use it daily. The advantage of using the collagen powder is that I could do it each morning with my tea and therefore make it a regular thing. Typically I put it in a single pot of tea, though my "dosage" is equivalent to Isagenix's "elixir" for a fraction of the price.

The collagen adds no flavor at all, but does alter the texture of the tea slightly. If you added to coffee and then followed with cream, I don't think you'd notice. So I did this for about a week, when much to my surprise, I did notice a difference in my skin. Not the lighting enhanced crazy claims posted on Facebook, but there was a noticeable difference.

Another difference I noticed were my joints after a gym session (I am still following the LIFTMOR protocol to reduce or reverse my osteoporosis, but that's a topic for another post) were less sore. Since the protocol includes jumping 50+ times (at least as I do the protocol) not having sore knees afterward was a blessing.

The third effect I noticed was that any bruises I got were less deep, and healed faster. I bruise very easy, and working in the bakery, I can constantly bumping into thing and or lifting heavy bulky items that sometimes bite into my skin forming a bruise. Collagen doesn't make me less clumsy, but it does seem to have allowed my bruises to disappear more quickly.
Overall, I'm a convert. I finished the decade old collagen (which caused the good effects) and have purchased a fresher batch. So for once, the scammers were telling part of the truth. Collagen is a good supplement to one's diet. Especially as you age and protein becomes harder to digest and absorb.

Collagen is supposed to be easily absorbed, and my experience doesn't refute that. My daughter has also started using collagen again based on my rave reports on the effects. The primary effect she's noticed is with her hair, which feels thicker to her and seems to be growing faster. I can't say I've noticed that with my hair, though, if it would help my hair grow better, that would be great. Especially if it grows better where it's thinning. But I have not noticed that yet.

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