My wife has been taking collagen recently in the hopes that it would help suppliment or strengthen the collagen in her body tissues (she is well aware of the shoddy evidence on collagen but wanted to try it anyway). I didn’t think much of it, until I started reading a book called “Deep Nutrition” by Catherine Shanahan, M.D. This book was recommended on Twitter by a former vegan who said this book converted him back to meat. Since I am interested in the counter-arguements to my positions such as veganism, I gave the book a try. In the section about meat, the author talks about the importance of collagen in the diet and how patients with sore joints are cured when they get back to eating the collagen early humans ate.

I was skeptical of this point. As with many key nutrients and proteins, our body has a way of recycling and generating these components. Look no further than cholesterol or vitamin D as examples of our bodies’ ability to create essential components. What happens during breast feeding or during early childhood development if the infants or children are not getting collagen? Well it turns out, collagen can be manufactured by the body using the amino acids proline, glycine, and hydroxyproline (Basics from the Cleveland Clinic ).

I also learned that collagen is broken down in the stomach acid into its constitutive amino acids as they are then absorbed into the body. The supplement companies try to alter the collagen to make it bypass the stomach and get into the bloodstream. However, all of the research shows mixed results on collagen supplementation, and many of the studies are funded by companies that would benefit from such supplementation. It is interesting that the group of patients that benefitted the most from collagen supplementation were the ones with the worst joints. Is it possible that increased overall protein intake (by taking in collagen) helped those patients?

From what I’ve read, I am not convinced anyone needs to ingest collagen. One must intake enough amino acids for proper protein synthesis. Whether that is from peas, soy, rice, or animal products, I don’t think it matters once it is denatured in the stomach acid.

Below are links that I used for this shallow-wade into this topic. Let me know if you agree or disagree with my findings.