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Collagen & Bone Broth

Collagen & Bone Broth

Bone Broth is a time-old remedy, the base for all winter soups, and more recently popularized and packaged by the Paleo and Keto diet trends. While it’s usually been used as just a culinary soup base, it’s evolved into a stand-alone item to consume for a list of health benefits. Collagen is a protein, and the body produces a lot of it from a typical well-rounded diet. The body isn't ever really "collagen deficient". It’s built out of amino acids and is responsible for the body’s elasticity in skin, joints, bones, muscles, and tendons.

The body produces collagen on its own, but production starts to decline through our twenties which accounts for wrinkled skin and a slowly more brittle body as the years go on. Collagen powders and supplements can be found marketed to a variety of populations. Collagen supplements are frequently found in gyms or in strength-building formulas, purporting to help build muscle and assist in recovery. Collagen can also be found on the label of cosmetic and hair products for younger skin or stronger hair and nails. Collagen is also marketed towards osteoarthritis or general joint health to support cartilage that decreases with age.

What's problematic with this assortment of supplements is that there's an absorption issue with collagen. As stated in an MD Anderson article, “eating foods rich in collagen doesn’t give your body collagen. It just gives your body amino acids that it will reassemble into whatever protein it needs.” While there’s no harm in boosting amino acids, it’s misleading to conceptualize eating “collagen-rich foods” or supplements will directly add any elasticity to your body. Basically, the human body is going to produce as much collagen as it wants regardless of consuming collagen.

Very little formal research has been conducted on if collagen products do anything. A handful of studies showing positive results were either funded by supplement companies or authored by researchers who were financially tied to supplement companies.  As a supplement form, collagen has no FDA regulation. The label can say collagen without any information on its source, how much collagen, or any other ingredients. 

Bone Broth for Collagen: According to a Harvard School of Public Health article, “claims that bone broth detoxifies the liver, improves digestion, reverses wrinkles, builds bones, and relieves joint pain have led some marketing analysts to predict that the bone broth market will approach $3 billion by 2024.” Brands like Kettle & Fire rose with the popularity of the paleo and keto diets and more recently Ancient Nutrition is selling bone broth supplements that are probably a great soup base but does not carry restorative benefits like younger skin or less achy joints just because the word collagen is on the label. 

Brooke’s Take: I love bone broth. I usually have a batch of homemade bone broth on hand. I make bone-shaped bone broth ice cubes for my dog. I was under the impression that bone broth was a great collagen source. I won’t stop making bone-broth-bone-shaped ice cubes anytime soon, but I won’t necessarily be doing it for the collagen.

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