Collagen is connective tissue found throughout animal bodies, most obviously in the skin, bones, teeth, and joints. People who get too little of the amino acids present in collagen tend to have problems in all these areas. Skin becomes wrinkled, thin, and weak. Bones are broken down to get to the collagen in them, often resulting in release of high levels of minerals such as calcium that are supposed to be stored in bone. Joint tissue cannot be repaired, leading to painful chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis.
Glycine is the amino acid found in the highest proportions in collagen. It is necessary for detoxification processes throughout the human body as it is one of the three amino acids, together with glutamine and cysteine, that are used to build the master antioxidant called glutathione. Proline is collagen’s second most common amino acid. Nobel Prize winning biochemist Linus Pauling advocated supplementation with proline, along with vitamin C and lysine, to help maintain cardiovascular health. Proline and lysine are used to build strong blood vessels and vitamin C is needed for collagen synthesis.
Our ancestors of long ago often ate whole animals, not just lean cuts of meat. This included connective tissue containing lots of collagen. Today, that nutritious connective tissues is often discarded as unappetizing and valuable nutrients are lost.
Some experts suggest about one third of a person’s daily protein intake should come from collagen. Other sources of protein are also needed, however, because collagen is completely devoid of the essential amino acid tryptophan and has very low levels of several other amino acids.
The bone broths advocated by the Weston A. Price Foundation and many paleo diet experts are a great source of collagen and minerals. Bone broths can be made from any kind of animal bone including most commonly beef, poultry, pork, and fish bones.
If you are eating out, Vietnamese Pho (beef broth) is a very tasty bone broth. It is made in huge batches in Vietnamese restaurants using days of simmering to extract the collagen and minerals.
Good quality bone broths high in collagen will solidify into a gel when cooled in the refrigerator.
If you are not keen on making or consuming bone broths, you can use convenient hydrolyzed collagen and gelatin products to add significant quantities of collagen to your diet very conveniently.
Gelatin is a form of collagen in which the protein remains in longer chains of amino acids and will solidify into a gel material when cooled. It is an ingredient in the commonly used Jello products. But the Jello brand as of today is an inferior source of collagen. The gelatin in it comes mainly from factory farmed animals that have been deprived of healthy living conditions and nutrition. Being unhealthy animals, they are a poor source of high quality nutrition. Further, Jello brand products usually contains high quantities of sugar and toxic artificial sweeteners.
A better source of gelatin is from pure gelatin without sweeteners obtained from grass-fed (also called pastured) cattle that were raised in less stressful living conditions with better nutrition. Great Lakes, Custom Collagen, Vital Proteins, and Bulletproof brands all are claimed to be sourced from areas of the world in which pastured-raised cattle farming is the rule.
If you drink smoothies or just want a really easy to consume source of collagen in your diet, consider collagen hydrolysate. This is collagen broken up into smaller amino acid chains that are very rapidly digested and do not turn into a gel at cold temperatures. Thus this form can be easily mixed into drinks such as smoothies or even into plain water, tea, coffee, or a low-sugar citrus juice drink. (It will also mix into high-sugar juices, but of course you don’t want the insulin-skyrocking fat-boosting blood sugar spike from such poor food choices.)
Great Lakes Beef Gelatin
Great Lakes Pork Gelatin – note: Pigs are more often fed GMO’s, investigate to see if this applies to this product before buying
Custom Collagen’s Hydrolyzed Gelatin Fish Collagen Peptides 1.5lb (24oz) Jar Kosher and Halal Unflavored Powder – note: Tilapia are often fed animal waste that could be from GMO fed animals, investigate to see if this applies to this product before buying. Custom Collagen claims “All raw materials used to produce our Fish Gelatin and Fish Collagen are GMO, antibiotic and hormone free.”
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