In recent years, there has been an increasing buzz about collagen supplements, but is it worth the hype? Collagen is one of the most abundant proteins in the body. However, the human body makes less collagen as we age. Sun exposure, smoking, excess alcohol, lack of exercise and inadequate sleep negatively impact collagen production.
Research has shown positive effects in regards to improving joint pain and skin. Improvement of hair and nails is not supported by the research at this time. There are different types of collagen which come from the skin, hide, tendons, bones, and cartilage of cows, pigs, chicken, or fish.
Collagen is missing some essential amino acids and should not be used in place of your protein shakes, especially when on the liquid, pureed, or soft food phases after weight loss surgery. The body creates collagen from protein rich foods like poultry, meat, eggs, dairy, legumes and soy. Gelatin, tough meats (pot roast, brisket, chuck steak), fish skin and bones, and bone broth are good food sources of collagen too. In order to aid in collagen production, pair the collagen rich food with vitamin C, sulfur and zinc rich foods. Vitamin C is present in citrus, berries, leafy greens, and bell peppers. Zinc is found in legumes, meat, nuts, shellfish, seeds and whole grains. Sulfur can be obtained from onions, garlic and broccoli.
Collagen supplements are not regulated by the FDA. Serious side effects have not been noted. There is concern for exposure to heavy metals and other toxins with use since it is made from animal bones and connective tissues. If you decide to purchase supplements, look for a seal that designates safety like USP, NSF international or UL. Some of the research about the benefits of collagen are funded by the companies who would profit from its sale.
In conclusion, wait to purchase your collagen supplements until more non-industry funded research is done to verify its safety and effectiveness. Following the post-op bariatric surgery diet will set yourself up for success! A diet rich in lean protein rich and produce will naturally give the body the building blocks it needs to make collagen itself. Having better sleep habits, limiting alcohol, not smoking and exercising regularly will improve your collagen production too.
- Wadyka, S. (2020, October 13). The Real Deal on Collagen [Review of The Real Deal on Collagen]. Consumer Report. (opens in a new tab)
- Boston, 677 H. A., & Ma 02115 +1495‑1000. (2021, May 26). Collagen. The Nutrition Source. (opens in a new tab)
- Dietary Collagen — Should Consumers Believe the Hype? - Today’s Dietitian Magazine. (2019). Todaysdietitian.com. (opens in a new tab)