Broke nails, brittle hair, and thin, unhealthy-looking skin can ruin self-esteem like few other things in life. In addition to their unsightly visible effects, these signs can often indicate underlying issues--the most common of which is a collagen deficiency.
Luckily, the modern supplement industry provides various products for those looking to support collagen production. If you've ever been interested in taking collagen supplements for your hair, skin, or nails, it's essential to first understand what they are and how they work in the body. To that end, we've compiled a comprehensive breakdown of collagen supplements, how to figure out whether they're right for you, and which types might be best for your needs.
What is Collagen?
At more than 30% of the total protein in the human body, collagen is the most abundant protein we possess and is the primary building block for skin, muscles, and even bones. More specifically, your body builds and uses collagen fibers to provide tissue strength and durability. This means that healthy amounts of collagen often result in more resilient, youthful skin, stronger hair and nails, and better internal health.
Most people absorb this essential protein from collagen-rich foods such as bone broth or chicken skin. Others, such as vegans, must find ways to increase collagen synthesis through supplements or other means. Regardless of how you add collagen to your diet, however, ensuring that you consume enough of it is one of the most important factors to consider when trying to build better health.
Signs You Need a Collagen Supplement
Since you're reading this article, chances are you've noticed certain signs or symptoms that make you believe you may need collagen support. If one or more of the following symptoms seems familiar to you in your daily life, consider finding a high-quality collagen booster.
While normal things such as wrinkles and decreased skin elasticity are to be expected as we age, any sudden changes in these areas may indicate low collagen levels. When your body produces enough collagen, it allows you to replace cells as they become damaged by natural factors. In cases where your collagen production is impaired, these damaged cells go untreated for much longer, resulting in accelerated aging.
Slow Wound Healing
Just like your body uses collagen to build skin, hair, and muscles, it also harvests amino acids and other materials from collagen to help heal wounds when you become injured. In situations where your body can't produce enough collagen, however, healing cuts and scrapes often takes much longer.
Between stress, poor dietary habits, alcohol consumption, and the pervasive use of heavily processed foods, digestive system disorders are more common than ever. Chronic conditions such as IBS or gluten intolerance can cause intestinal irritation, damaging your stomach lining and impairing your ability to absorb nutrients.
Low collagen levels compound this issue further by reducing your body's ability to heal intestinal damage as it occurs.
Perhaps even more than poor skin or nail health, hair loss can be one of the most uncomfortable symptoms of collagen deficiency. Often, individuals begin to lose hair when individual hair follicles become damaged by the sun, free radicals, hormonal changes, or stress.
Usually, a hair follicle damaged this way is repaired by your body using amino acids pulled from collagen. However, when you don't consume or produce enough collagen, this repair process stalls, resulting in brittle or thinning hair.
One of the more taxing symptoms of collagen deficiency is joint pain. Just like your body uses collagen to repair hair follicles, it also uses collagen to maintain healthy joints and tendons. When you injure or damage these tendons through everyday movements or exercise, your body tries to naturally repair them just as they would a cut or bruise. Without the proper levels of collagen, however, this repair process becomes much less effective.
Although brittle nails may indicate several deficiencies, such as vitamin C, zinc, or iron, low collagen is often a primary suspect when your nails start breaking. Luckily, boosting your collagen production has a fast, immediate impact on this condition, with one study showing a 42% reduction in broken nails among women regularly taking a collagen booster.
The Two Types of Collagen Supplements
While the human body contains five types of collagen, the nutrition industry typically divides collagen supplements into two categories, each with different strengths, drawbacks, and qualities to consider.
Collagen peptides are dietary supplements intended to provide a concentrated source of the same collagen found in certain foods. Usually refined into a powder from animal connective tissues, collagen peptides boost your collagen levels through external sources rather than by promoting your body's natural production.
Because of its source, this type of collagen supplement uses animal byproducts and is, therefore, not vegan. Luckily, many other vegan and vegetarian options exist to naturally boost internal collagen production.
Unlike collagen peptides, taking collagen builders boosts your body's natural collagen production. Depending on the type of collagen builder you choose, this ability comes from a variety of sources and ingredients. Unlike collagen peptides, which typically come in a bulky, messy powder, most companies package their collagen builders in precise, pill-based doses.
Another difference from collagen peptides is the source of these products' ingredients. Almost all supplements designed to support collagen production contain zero animal byproducts, making them an excellent way to obtain "vegan collagen."
What to Look For in Collagen Builders
When shopping for collagen builders, it's vital to look for ones that include the most effective ingredients with the fewest fillers. Each ingredient should have a clear benefit or purpose, and each should be included in high enough amounts to actually provide value. In our Purvana Max, for instance, we include ingredients such as:
- 5000mcgs of high-potency biotin: Just like collagen provides various amino acids for your body, biotin helps your body better use those amino acids to carry out important functions.
- MSM: A type of organic sulfur used to fight inflammation, MSM calms irritated tissues to facilitate natural collagen production.
- Fo-ti Root: With a long history of use in traditional medicine, fo-ti root has been shown to slow signs of aging and increase energy levels.
- Grape Seed Extract: A powerful antioxidant, grape seed extract bonds with tissue-locked collagen to prevent damage from free radicals and other sources.
- DMAE: This impressive ingredient helps stabilize cell walls throughout your body and brain and may reduce both physical and mental signs of aging.
Although other products may include other ingredients, it's important that any additional ingredients serve a clear, relevant purpose. Unfortunately, some brands fill their supplements with filler or inflated levels of nutrients that look good on a label but do little else.
Other Benefits of Collagen Supplementation
Although collagen supplements are primarily used to promote hair growth, stronger nails, and overall skin health, they also provide a surprising number of other benefits. Even if you're seeking a supplement for hair, skin, or nails, consider whether the following advantages might improve your quality of life.
Your body breaks down collagen to produce healthier hair, skin, and nails--but also less-visible tissues throughout your body. And, while many people focus on the external benefits of collagen, these supplements do just as much to boost internal health as well.
Specifically, boosting collagen production can help repair and restore the lining of your stomach after damage caused by conditions such as IBS. More and more common in recent years, these chronic gastrointestinal issues can wreak havoc on your quality of life by causing rampant inflammation, food sensitivities, and other unpleasant symptoms.
By using the right collagen supplements to repair and protect your gut from future damage, however, you can manage symptoms and go through your day with confidence.
Studies have shown that strong collagen levels can help regulate blood sugar and promote healthy insulin production, both of which are crucial for those living with diabetes. Additionally, most collagen builders include a significant dose of biotin, which works alongside collagen to promote healthy organ function and overall wellness.
One of biotin's most impressive functions, however, is its ability to regulate glucose production, with one study demonstrating a 45% decrease in fasting blood sugar after regular biotin supplementation.
Surprising though it may be, collagen builders offer various benefits for those looking to shed pounds. For those regularly hitting the gym, these benefits take the form of improved health for joints and muscles. By maintaining a consistent gym routine, you signal to your body that it needs to begin producing more muscle and tendon tissue. Without the right amino acids like those found in collagen, however, this often leads to soreness, low energy levels, or increased food cravings.
Secondly, high doses of biotin, like those found in collagen builders, can help your body burn fat and produce energy. Even when not in the gym, studies have shown that biotin supplements can increase resting metabolic rate and thereby burn more calories each day.
How to Get Started
If you're looking for a healthy, natural way to boost collagen production and start improving the quality of your hair, skin, and nails, consider taking a look at our line of biotin-based collagen builders. Carefully formulated to include only the ingredients you need, these products represent the first line of defense in the fight against low collagen.