Tim Mount, educator for NeoCell Health, joined Andrea Donsky and Lisa Davis on Naturally Savvy Radio to discuss the benefits of collagen supplementation on joint and bone health. [The following transcript has been edited for print.]
Naturally Savvy: Lately we are hearing more and more about collagen, and not just for skin and the importance of keeping that skin nice and elastic, but also for joints and bone health. Andrea and I are very excited to have Tim Mount, a national educator for NeoCell here to talk about collagen and all of it's great benefits. Hi Tim!
Tim Mount: Hi ladies, thank you for having me on. I really appreciate it.
NS: We are really excited. There is a lot of buzz around collagen, and we want to know, what is collagen and why do we need it?
TM: Well simply, collagen is a protein, but it's a very important protein that gives our tissues structure. The main benefits are skin and beauty benefits or joint and bone benefits.
NS: Will collagen help to reduce wrinkles in terms of skin benefits? Is there a good time to start taking collagen if it does help with wrinkles?
TM: Yes, absolutely! After the age of 25, collagen production slows in the body and that's really when the aging signs and symptoms start to appear, when initial fine lines and wrinkles begin. Anybody after the age of 25 should be able to get good skin and beauty benefits because collagen supplements will help to rebuild those tissues and reverse the signs and symptoms of aging.
NS: That's very exciting, because there is so much talk about other things we can do to our skin – different injections and different topical things – so it's nice to know there's something we can do from the inside out; we're very big on that here.
Talk to us about the joint situation. I noticed personally – I'll be lifting weights and all of a sudden my elbow joint will start hurting, or other things… I'm falling apart here Tim, so you've got to help me out!
TM: Well sure, we all are!
I've been going to the gym my whole life and I know that a lot of people focus on muscle recovery but they forget about joints. Things like whey protein, or soy, or some plant based proteins are great for muscle recovery, but people forget that ligaments, tendons, cartilage, and a lot of your bones are made of collagen. Collagen is the connective tissue that keeps your muscles stable and keeps your joints from being injured. By taking collagen supplements you can help to strengthen that connective tissue, too. It's great for injury recovery or the prevention of injury.
NS: Is collagen something that both women and men would benefit from?
TM: We see that a lot of women like to take it for skin, hair and nail benefits, but men like it too. For anybody who is exercising – even those weekend warriors out there – collagen is great for keeping you strong into your golden years. And, for men like myself (who are in their mid-30s) and have some receding hair line issues, it's great for retaining the hair you do have. Really, it's for everybody.
NS: Let's talk about bone health because we all know the importance of having strong bones. This is something that I think would be a great addition to foods like kale or pinto beans, or all the other great foods that you can get calcium from. Is collagen similar to calcium in terms of helping bone structure and keeping them strong?
TM: Collagen is about 36% of bones. In my opinion, it's the most important part because it acts almost like rebar in the foundation of a house. Calcium supplements (which tend to pack a lot of minerals) have nothing to help hold those minerals in place and give bones a little bit of flexibility and strength. That's what collagen does.
Since collagen production declines with age, as you get into your 60s, 70s, or 80s there is very little collagen left in the bone. It's almost like the bones become like a stick of chalk: very dense but easy to snap. By adding in collagen supplements, you can help to rebuild some of the collagen structures in the bone, strengthening it and providing a place for that calcium to attach to.
NS: I'm going to go on a limb here. What type of research is behind collagen? Can we say that taking collagen could help to prevent something like osteoporosis down the road?
TM: I am always careful talking about diagnosable conditions, but there have been some good research studies on collagen. I did a very comprehensive search on PubMed, which is a great resource for anybody that wants to look up collagen studies. There are great ones on osteoporosis, arthritis (both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis), but also for skin benefits as well. It's a very well researched supplement. It's been around for a while; its not one of the new, "hot" ones. It has some very good clinical studies behind it.
NS: Let's say you are a 40-something year old woman and you are looking for some skin benefits. How often would you want to take collagen supplements and what do you want to look for on the labels to make sure you are taking the best you can take?
TM: Collagen supplements stimulate the body's own natural collagen production. Because of that, you have to have a high enough dose in order for your body to be stimulated enough to make a difference. We like to say that anywhere from 2,000 to 10,000 mg (and for athletes, even up to 15,000 mg) is a really effective dose to get the benefits that you want. NeoCell Collagen supplements are in that range (our core supplements are about 6000mg) and that should be good enough. You could take 3,000 mg in the morning and 3,000 mg at night; you can do all 6,000 mg at once if you wanted to. Depending upon on your age and weight, you can play with those dosages to give yourself an initial boost in the beginning, or just to have a nice, steady maintenance program with a moderate dosage.
NS: If taking collagen, should we avoid combining it with other supplements that might affect the absorption of one or the other?
TM: We recommend, for maximum effectiveness, to stay away from other proteins at the time you are taking it. It is not because it causes a problem, it just reduces the effectiveness a little bit. I would suggest taking collagen in the morning when you first wake up (go through your normal routine, take a shower, brush your teeth) and by the time you are ready to eat your breakfast you should be good to go. Or, another good time is right at the end of the day, right before you go to bed. As long as you are not snacking right up to bed time, you should be okay.
NS: If some is already taking calcium at night, could collagen be taken alongside?
TM: Yes, absolutely! As far as we know, there are no interactions with other supplements or drugs. It's really just the proteins that you want to stay away from. Collagen is very safe for all ages including children. If you are pregnant, you will want to check with your doctor. But, I just had a little baby and Mama was on collagen the whole pregnancy… and I have a very strong and sturdy baby, that's for sure!
NS: Congratulations; that's amazing! Thanks for sharing that with us, and thank you for joining us, Tim.
Image: Daniela Vladimirova