Wellness and beauty Buzzword explained: Collagen protein powder

It seems everyone on Instagram is mixing collagen protein into their smoothies these days (namely Vital Proteins) and for good reason. Collagen protein powder can not only help smooth skin, it can strengthen hair and nails. But with so many types, picking a collagen of choice can be confusing. Plus, I can’t be the only one wondering whether collagen protein is a replacement for my protein powder!

To get to the bottom of all things collagen protein I spoke with Chris Noonan, MPH of collagen beverage, Drink Neuro.

What are the different kinds of collagen protein?
There are four primary commercially available sources: Marine collagen (fish), porcine (pork), bovine (cow), and fowl (chicken).

Can you give the pros and cons of marine collagen vs one derived from the animal bones/skin?
Pros:
o No BSE issues (bovine spongiform encephalopathy)
o Obviously, a good protein source for vegetarians that allow fish protein into their diets.
o Emerging research demonstrates marine collagen is best source to raise overall collagen
levels in body. Since collagen production declines precipitously with age, marine
collagen preferred source for maintaining optimal collagen supplies and supporting skin,
hair, appearance as we age.
o Ecofriendly: Derived from marine sustainable sources (discarded skins, scales). These
were throw‐away byproducts for decades until it was discovered how to extract
collagen from these remnants.
o Halal and Kosher certified (depends on the source).

Cons:
o More expensive than other collagen sources.
o Consumer products using cheaper supplies of marine collagen can display fishy off‐
notes.

Can collagen replace post workout protein powders?
Not really. Collagen is a great protein that gets absorbed quickly but its destination is
predominantly bone, skin, hair, nails and connective tissues. It’s a great every day protein
supplement for beauty and joint health benefits. But its primary amino acids are glycine, proline and hydroxyproline – great for structure, not so much for muscle building or repair. For a post‐workout supplement leucine is important to shuttle aminos into muscle tissue. Hydrolyzed whey protein is optimal for post workout supplementation since it’s quickly absorbed and provides a lot of the amino acid leucine.

Can you explain what hydrolyzed collagen is?
Hydrolyzed means broken down or “pre‐digested”. Collagen is a big protein. By itself, it’s not very well absorbed, or rather, very inefficiently absorbed. Hydrolyzing collagen breaks it down into smaller pieces, or “peptides”. These peptides make it easier for digestion and absorption. This also removes any allergenic potential of collagen for those that may be affected.

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