Collagen supplements: truth or trend?

Article by Ashley Finkel, Nutrition Student and Intern at Openspaceclinic.

What is Collagen? 

Collagen is a protein that is essential to the health and function of connective tissues and ligaments in our bodies. It is the primary structural protein in the body and it is found in our muscles, bones, tendons and more. For this reason, collagen supplements are believed to improve the health of these areas. 

Our bodies create collagen naturally. We make collagen, or any protein, by breaking down the protein we eat into amino acids, which are the building blocks from which our bodies can form new proteins. 

Collagen Supplements 

Collagen has recently become a trending topic. Many individuals claim that collagen powders and capsules have a plethora of benefits ranging from improved skin, bone and joint health to improved gut health. Let’s compare the research to the theory and find out if these claims hold true! 

Skin health 

Some studies show that oral supplementation of collagen leads to improved wrinkle depth, hydration and elasticity of the skin. One study also showed that oral supplementation of collagen can improve the effects of skin aging. 

Joint health 

Studies show that a daily intake of collagen can relieve joint pain and discomfort. One study even explored the effect of collagen supplementation on cases of osteoarthritis; this study found promising evidence that collagen peptides help the body to repair cartilage tissue and therefore relieved the discomfort that patients were experiencing. 

Gut health 

There does not appear to be much scientific research done to test if collagen has any effect on gut health. Most of the claims you see are supported by anecdotal evidence only. 

The Theory 

Now that we explored the scientific evidence, let’s investigate the scientific theory of the matter. 

Once you eat any protein, your body breaks it down into individual amino acids. Then, your body can use the amino acids to build collagen or any other protein in the body. It is important to note that just because the amino acids came from a collagen supplement, it doesn’t mean your body will use them to create collagen in the body. Your body will use the amino acids to make whatever proteins are needed in the body at that moment. Eating more foods rich in the proteins that help build collagen, such as meat, fish, dairy products, soy products and beans, will enhance collagen production in the body. As well, eating more vitamin C-rich foods can be beneficial, since vitamin C is important for collagen production.

To sum it up, there have been plenty of studies done to test the effectiveness of collagen supplementation. While we’re still not sure about its effectiveness, there is one thing we do know: collagen supplementation is safe and does not produce any negative, unwanted side-effects. It is important to note that although there is some promising evidence supporting these claims, there is much more research to be done! 




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Do adaptogens help relieve stress?

Article by Ashley Finkel, Nutrition Student and Intern at Openspaceclinic.

Everyone experiences stress!

While short bouts of stress can be manageable, continuous stress can be hard on our bodies, both physically and mentally. Adding adaptogens to your diet is just one way to manage stress.

What are adaptogens?

Adaptogens are a group of plants that can help our bodies cope with stress. Adaptogens can be herbs, fungi or roots; and they work with our bodies to regulate our stress response systems. Adaptogens have been newly growing in popularity; however, they actually have a long history of health benefits. For centuries, Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine have been using adaptogens to battle fatigue, increase energy levels and reduce stress levels.

Some common Adaptogens

Rhodiola rosea

Schisandra chinensis

Eleutherococcus senticosus (Siberian ginseng)

Let’s learn about them! 

Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola is an herb that has been proven to help the body cope with its stress response. In addition, it has shown to improve cognitive function and mental performance in individuals experiencing fatigue. One study found that Rhodiola can even help to reduce symptoms of depression.

Rhodiola can be taken as a capsule supplement; however, in my opinion, brewing it and ingesting as tea is best!

Schisandra Chinesis 

Studies show that Schisandra has stress-reducing properties; it has a specific, beneficial effect in reducing stress symptoms under fatigue. There is also strong evidence that it can increase endurance and mental performance in individuals experiencing fatigue and weakness.

Schisandra is available as a supplement; but it can also be purchased as dried whole berries or as a juice.

Eleutherococcus senticosus (Siberian Ginseng) 

Siberian Ginseng is a very popular choice among the common adaptogens. It has been proven to increase endurance and improve mental performance in fatigued individuals— similar to Schisandra. As well, many patients with stress-induced depression experienced an overall mood improvement and a better night sleep as a result of taking Siberian ginseng.

Siberian Ginseng root is available in supplement format; however, again, my personal favourite is Siberian Ginseng tea.

The Takeaway

All of these adaptogens have been proven to have beneficial effects on our bodies stress response systems. They also respectively have a long list of benefits for our bodies ranging from mood improvement to improved cognitive function. However, it is important to note that there is no “magic remedy” to stress. Stress is different for every individual and while adaptogens might work for some people, it may not work for everyone.

Please remember that it is always advised to speak with your healthcare professional before taking any adaptogens!



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