What is Collagen
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, making up over a third. It is the major component of connective tissues that make up several body parts, including tendons, ligaments, and skin. It is also found in corneas, cartilage, bones, blood vessels, the gut, and intervertebral discs.
As we age, our bodies' natural collagen production slows down. When this happens, we begin to suffer from stiffer joints and muscles. As we get older, natural collagen production slows down, and collagen production declines by about 1% a year starting in your 20s or 30s. By the time you reach your 50s or 60s, you may begin to experience the effects of low collagen levels such as less elasticity in the skin, wrinkles, joint pain, and achy knees. Collagen molecules are formed by joining smaller proteins together (triple helix structure). There are various types of collagen, with Type I being the most common.
Why is it important for runners?
Collagen is often sold as an anti-aging supplement, but there are scenarios where it might be worth considering for runners of all ages. Collagen supplements have been shown to have benefits in reducing joint pain and stiffness and helping runners recover from injury faster. Some research suggests that taking a collagen supplement may reduce the risk of injury, although this is less conclusive.
Suppose you are a runner who has frequent or sudden joint pain or is experiencing an injury to a tendon or ligament. A collagen supplement is something you should consider for a boost, either temporarily or long term.
Also worth mentioning before we continue is that if you are an older runner, we have a complete guide for picking out shoes geared toward masters.
What are the best collagen products for runners in 2022?
These are the three best collagen supplements for runners currently available:
Collagen peptides from pasture-raised cows aren't new to the supplement industry - but the attention to quality and traceability is. Naked collagen has only one ingredient: Bovine hides collagen peptides from pasture-raised cows in Europe. It is odorless, tasteless, and easy to mix with your favorite drinks. Each serving includes 9 grams of protein and only 35 calories. Naked collagen is free of additives and artificial sweeteners.
Second Best Option
Vital Proteins is another brand to consider. Their "thrice-as-nice formula" is their signature Original Collagen Peptides features hyaluronic acid and vitamin C. The collagen boasts amino acids that support healthy hair, skin, nails, joints, and gut health. Hyaluronic acid is known for its moisture-retaining properties and contributes to healthy skin hydration and joint lubrication. Vitamin C helps the body synthesize collagen and plays a crucial role in the formation of collagen in the skin.
Best Budget Option
Bulk Supplements is the least expensive brand. They don't do much marketing, and their packaging is pretty dull, but that is hopefully not why you are buying supplements. This is their bovine collagen offering isolated from cows — specifically, the parts of the cow that are too tough to eat, such as the joints, bones, and cartilage. The collagen is hydrolyzed to make it easier for your body to absorb.
What to look for in a quality brand
There are a lot of collagen supplement brands out there. Our advice when checking them out is to opt for the non-GMO variety to ensure that you don't experience any potential adverse side effects in the future.
The absence of genetic modification means that the collagen product is free from antibiotics and hormones. The hormone-free and antibiotic-free composition also suggest that there is no risk of an allergic reaction or any other unexpected side effects.
Another significant benefit of non-GMO collagen is the lack of artificial preservatives and coloring agents, which often lead to various health complications in the long run.
In addition, non-GMO collagen supplements are usually a better option because they contain more protein than their GMO counterparts. A high protein concentration translates into greater benefits for our health, including better-looking skin and stronger nails and hair.
Other things to consider when choosing a brand include:
the origin of collagen (bovine or marine)
the purity of the supplement (whether it contains added chemicals)
the formula (whether it includes vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients)
Is collagen good for you?
Since your body naturally produces collagen, it is not something you need to avoid. Unless you are allergic to an ingredient included with the supplement, there are no known health risks to taking collagen supplements. There is also no guarantee that collagen supplements will suddenly make your pain disappear.
While studies show some benefits for skin and joint health, no studies show any adverse long-term effects of consuming collagen supplements. If you are someone who would like to try taking collagen supplements, it doesn't hurt to try but keep in mind that it might not work for you. The most important thing is to read the label closely.
How much should I take and when should I take it?
Marine Collagen is the most popular of all types, and it is made up of small amino acids easily absorbed into the body. Marine Collagen is best taken every morning because it helps you recover from your workout and provides you with energy throughout the day.
Bovine collagen contains a higher concentration of glycine. Glycine is an anti-inflammatory amino acid that helps repair tissue damage from sports injuries or those irritating aches and pains from arthritis. Bovine collagen is usually taken with meals because glycine helps digest fats and protein.
Chicken collagen has a very high proline concentration, a skin-tightening amino acid that smoothes out wrinkles and leaves you looking younger. Chicken collagen is also a great source of hyaluronic acid, which helps lubricate joints and skin to stay healthy and hydrated.