Collagen: how to use it, benefits, and why I love it

Collagen can be an amazing supplement: packed with protein and aids in healing, skin appearance, joint and bone health. 

Hi friends! How’s the week going?? It’s been a good one over here so far. I taught spin last night (and subbed a class Sunday!), we enjoyed an awesome dinner here at home, and we’re hitting the road to Phoenix later today. I can’t.freaking.wait. 

So this morning, I figured we could talk a little bit about one of my favorite supplements: collagen. I’ve gotten a lot of questions about it since I posted a bit about my supplement routine earlier this year.

Supplements 2

I started taking collagen shortly after P was born and my hormones were all over the place. My naturopath did a blood test and sent me a handful of herbal supplements, in addition to collagen (he sent this one and over time I’ve switched to this one), and some aloe vera. While I’m not going to go into all of the herbal supplements since they were customized based on what was going on, I know a lot of people who take collagen, or are curious about collagen, so I thought I’d share share some of the benefits and things I’ve noticed since taking it. Please keep in mind that this is from my own experience. If you have any questions regarding supplements or your unique nutritional needs, please consult your doctor. It’s up to us to make educated choices about our own health. <3

I love collagen hydrolysate -- a protein powerhouse and building block for healthy skin, nails, hair, and bones |

So what is collagen?

Collagen is the main protein found in connective tissue. It’s in muscles, bones, skins and tendons, and as this website says, it’s like the glue that holds our body together. Our body’s collagen production decreases as we age, which can contribute to dull skin, lackluster hair, wrinkles, joint problems, and low energy. 

Collagen and gelatin are different; gelatin is produced when collagen breaks down. So when you’re making bone broth, the bones have collagen in them, but the heating process creates gelatin. The Vital Proteins site has a great breakdown regarding the differences between collagen and gelatin. While they both have similar nutritional profiles and amino acids, the main differences are textural (collagen doesn’t change texture in hot or cold liquids) and regarding their purpose (gelatin takes longer to digest and can coat the small intestine, which can help to heal gut issues). I prefer collagen hydrolysate because it’s tasteless, and doesn’t get the same gelatinous texture when it’s mixed with cold liquids. I love it plain, mixed with aloe vera juice and a little water, in tea or coffee, and in smoothies.

Benefits of collagen, especially regarding bones, hair, and skin:

Collagen can promote healthy bones and joints.

According to this study, joint pain sufferers who took collagen supplements were able to improve the cartilage in their knee joints. Collagen can stimulate osteoblasts, which create bone cells, which can help with osteoporosis. This study found that bone mineral density was improved with the addition of collagen. It’s also a protein powerhouse with 18 whopping grams of protein per 2-scoop serving. 

Collagen can improve skin texture and elasticity.

Many people rave about collagen’s anti-aging properties. At first I thought this was purely anecdotal, but there are a few studies that indicate that collagen stimulates anabolic processes in skin tissue. It can help to reduce the type of skin that causes deep wrinkles and furrowing. I can actually see a difference if I forget to take it for a few days. 

It can improve energy levels and promote restful sleep.

Collagen contains gylcine, which helps pump sugar into your body’s tissue to increase energy levels. This is why I love taking it in the morning, and have been saving coffee for the afternoon.

It can help to balance hormone levels.

This is a great post that breaks it all down. I haven’t had a blood test again to re-check my levels (he wants to wait until Feb when I’ve been taking everything for exactly a year), but I’m curious to see how it’s impacted my results. In the meantime, I’ll keep doing my thing and taking what Dr. Flynn tells me to take, because he’s pretty much amazing. 

Why I like collagen:

-It’s not like gelatin. I’ve always had the weirdest issue with the texture of gelatin. Thankfully, this is nothing like that. It dissolves quickly with no strange texture and is virtually tasteless. For this reason, it’s super easy for me to add it to hot and cold drinks without knowing it’s there. 

-I notice a difference when I don’t take it. While I think that reducing sugar has had the biggest impact on my energy levels, I definitely notice a difference with collagen regarding my skin and hair. When I’m taking it, my skin looks smoother and more fresh (less tired!) and my hair is shiny. It has made my hair and nails extremely strong. My nails pretty much never break/crack (I have to use brute force to cut them with nail clippers haha) and my hair has less breakage. Before, I found it to be a lot more noticeable when I was slacking with regular haircuts. My hair has been able to maintain its length without breaking off.

Fresh hair

Some cool things about the collagen and aloe vera combo:

Aloe vera has many of the same benefits, and can help to promote the body’s production of collagen. It is also extremely hydrating, and provides nutrients for healthy skin and reducing wrinkles. I drink the orange papaya flavor of this! (The cherry one tastes like death.)

So tell me friends: have you taken collagen? What supplements do you usually take? Right now I’m taking my herbal supplements, collagen, aloe vera, prenatal vitamins (not pregnant; two and through), DHA, and a probiotic.


*Note: please talk to a doctor or Registered Dietitian before adjusting your supplement routine. This post contains affiliate links, which have no impact on purchase price, but allow me to earn a very small kickback. Thank you so much for your support. <3 

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  1. on November 22, 2016 at 7:18 am

    Thanks for the info! It is helpful to read all about collagen. I’ve heard so much about it I’m interested and I’m going to give it a try!

    • Fitnessista on November 22, 2016 at 8:24 am

      i hope you love it, too!

  2. Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious on November 22, 2016 at 7:26 am

    I’ve been using Vital Proteins for a few years now. LOVE it and I recommend it to all my clients too.

    • Fitnessista on November 22, 2016 at 8:24 am

      it’s amazing!!

  3. Morgan on November 22, 2016 at 7:38 am

    Thanks Gina! Do you mind sharing why you switched from the Great Lakes to the Vital Proteins brand? Did it have to do with the gelatin piece? Just curious – I have finished my first container of the Greta Lakes brand and was considering ordering another. I appreciate it!

    • Fitnessista on November 22, 2016 at 8:23 am

      i really liked great lakes but feel like the texture of vital proteins is lighter

  4. Mary on November 22, 2016 at 7:41 am

    I’m using the first brand that you used and wondering if you can elaborate on why you changed to vital proteins? I could definitely tell a difference when I started it. Thanks!

    • Fitnessista on November 22, 2016 at 8:22 am

      i like the texture better! it doesn’t seem so heavy.

  5. Jordan K on November 22, 2016 at 7:55 am

    Did you take collagen while you were pregnant? Or only after? I was wondering if collagen is safe for women who are pregnant?

    • Amber @ Busy, Bold, Blessed on November 22, 2016 at 8:10 am

      Is Collagen safe to take while pregnant or nursing?

      Getting enough collagen while pregnant is critical because it provides essential proteins that our bodies utilize daily and that promote optimal health for a growing baby. Collagen helps to build and repair our bones, joint surfaces, skin, teeth, eyes, arteries, intervertebral disks, and much more. Collagen is needed to ensure a strong body and to help you to continually heal. Although, we always recommend speaking with your physician regarding your specific health needs while pregnant and nursing.

    • Fitnessista on November 22, 2016 at 8:21 am

      i’ve only taken it after pregnancy. i would just check with your doc or midwife

  6. Kate on November 22, 2016 at 8:20 am

    Is this product derived from animal bones?! I’m a vegetarian. Thanks

    • Fitnessista on November 22, 2016 at 8:25 am

      it is. it’s not vegetarian, unfortunately

  7. Bethany @ Dose of Discovery on November 22, 2016 at 10:48 am

    Great timing – I was just starting to read about collagen! How much do you take a day? 1 2-scoop serving? Can you mix it into foods or does it have to be dissolved in a liquid?

    • Fitnessista on November 22, 2016 at 10:52 am

      i do 2 scoops in the morning. you can mix it into foods, too! i usually do tea or coffee but have added it to smoothies and oatmeal

      • Cassie on December 3, 2016 at 1:34 pm

        I just bought this collagen, the omega 3’s and vitamins you recommended! Ive been on the hunt for what to buy.

        How much water do you mix with your collagen? I just did 1 scoop with 8ox (and then 16oz) of water and I still found it difficult to drink. Would mixing it in my 40oz water bottle be okay?

        And with your vitamins & omega’s do you take all 3 pills at once (I noticed the serving of the vitamins is 3 pills) or do you take the throughout the day?


        • Fitnessista on December 4, 2016 at 10:41 am

          hey girl!
          i mix the collagen in my water, hot tea or coffee. i don’t even notice it in the hot drinks. maybe even blend it into smoothie! and it totally doesn’t matter how much water you mix it with. for the vitamins and omegas, i take 2 omegas and 2 prenatal. i know the serving is 3, but some of the percentages are above the daily requirement so i feel like 2 is good

  8. Jessie on November 22, 2016 at 10:58 am

    Thanks for the info! I’m waiting to take this after I have my son. I was thinking it would help with the hormones after;)

  9. Phoebe on November 22, 2016 at 11:08 am

    I’m a collagen believer… I started taking a few months ago hoping it might provide some support to my healing process for a surgery I was going to have. Earlier this month, I went to a new hairdresser who asked me if I’d started a new vitamin or supplement recently because I had a tremendous amount of new hair growth ALL over my head (I’d noticed the baby hairs in the front). The only difference… The collagen. Major score! I use Vital Proteins brand. I’d read that you really need to give it some time to see results (like 2 full containers) and I’m glad I did. Love it…. 2 scoops daily in my coffee or tea.

  10. Kelley on November 22, 2016 at 11:32 am

    I’ve been using the vital proteins collagen and I’ve only been taking it a little over a month but my nails are crazy strong and my nail polish does not chip anymore, which I consider a miracle. My skin looks better and Ive noticed I feel better overall.

  11. Natalie on November 22, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    I love collagen! Started taking it s few months ago. I’m the opposite of you though, started with vital proteins and eventually switched to Great Lakes. I was picking up on a taste with Vital that I didn’t really like. I mix it in my coffee every morning, and in green tea in the afternoon. I do need to look into that aloe!

  12. Stella on November 22, 2016 at 12:23 pm

    I’ve been taking gelatin for a couple years now and have found that it helps with hair and nail growth/strength. I did recently up my intake to 4 TB a day and have noticed that my nails are now so much stronger, so I would recommend taking that much a day.

    • Stella on November 22, 2016 at 12:25 pm

      I meant to say I’d been taking 1T of gelatin and 1T of collagen a day. I’m now taking 1T of gelatin and 4T of collagen a day and have noticed my nails no longer crack at all.

  13. Hillary on November 22, 2016 at 12:41 pm

    Sounds like a great supplement! Do you know if the marine collagen has the same benefits? I am a pescatarian, so don’t eat meat. Thanks!

  14. Charmaine Ng on November 22, 2016 at 12:45 pm

    I’ve heard arguments both for and against collagen, but after reading this post, I think I’ll finally try it out for myself before I come to a judgement!

    – Charmaine

  15. Mo on November 22, 2016 at 3:29 pm

    Gina you read my mind!!! I was just thinking to myself yesterday after seeing Vital Proteins in my insta feed so much, that I needed to do some research about collagen and if I should be taking it! Perfectly timed, and very informative! Thank you friend!! And Happy Thanksgiving <3

  16. Juliana on November 22, 2016 at 3:31 pm

    Have you tried the collagen gummies they have at Whole Foods? I’m really curious but haven’t been able to bring myself to spend $20 on something that might taste terrible.

    • Jean on November 23, 2016 at 6:34 am

      Check the WF return policy; you might be able to take them back if you don’t like them.

  17. Melissa C on November 22, 2016 at 3:54 pm

    You introduced me to it!
    I use Vital Proteins- about 5 months now and I absolutely love it! All of what u said, I can attest to! I put two scoops in my a.m tea (yogi detox ) . I’m hooked .

  18. Laura @FitMamaLove on November 22, 2016 at 10:42 pm

    I take collagen when I’m cooking dinner because I find it helps get me through that hungry time without resorting to stuffing snacks in my face. 🙂 I wasnt a fan of how it flavored my coffee (both brands you mentioned), So now I just mix with water and guzzle!

  19. Jena on November 23, 2016 at 3:04 am

    How much aloe Vera do you typically consume with the Collagen?

  20. Jill on November 23, 2016 at 5:54 am

    I actually started taking collagen a couple months ago after doing Whole30, and I LOVE it. I used to have really bad shoulder pain in my left shoulder, and couldn’t lay on my left side for even 15 minutes at night without pain. After regularly taking collagen, it’s made a huge difference and I can even sleep on my left side now. My boyfriend has shoulder and knee issues, and so I just got him a container of it to see if it helps. I use the Great Lakes brand, and I usually do two scoops in the morning with coffee, and sometimes another two scoops at night with some tea before bed. Definitely recommend adding collagen to a diet!

  21. Nathaly @NathyCure on November 23, 2016 at 9:09 am

    I only take magnesium in the mornings. But as a runner, I’ve been wanting to try some supplement for joint support, and collagen was the number one on the list.

    Thank for this post because it has been very interesting/helpful to me.

  22. Sam @ Hygge Wellness on November 23, 2016 at 10:58 am

    Thanks for the post on this! I’ve been seeing collagen products everywhere and while I know a little about the benefits, this article was SO helpful!

  23. Elizabeth on November 24, 2016 at 10:12 am

    Any idea whether collagen is ok while breastfeeding?

    • Fitnessista on November 24, 2016 at 10:20 am

      i would think it’s fine but i’d check with your doc or pediatrician to be sure

  24. Tara | Treble in the Kitchen on December 1, 2016 at 3:54 am

    So informative! I was taking marine collagen over the summer, and I enjoyed it mixed into smoothies but I’m not quite sure that I noticed a difference. Now that I’ve had some time off of it, I feel like I need to try it again and make note of any differences 🙂

  25. Jessica on December 8, 2016 at 9:18 am

    Do you happen to notice any side effects that are aren’t great. I’d read something about maybe constipation?

    Also, would you be willing to share the kind of probiotic you take?

    Thank you!

  26. Lauren Stewart on January 2, 2017 at 11:57 am

    Can you add collagen to any liquid? I have some and need to use it more. I was thinking of mixing it with la croix at night? Would that be okay?

    • Fitnessista on January 2, 2017 at 1:47 pm

      that’s a great question. i’m pretty sure you can mix it with anything, hot or cold! i googled it and it seems like there are recipes using sparkling water so i’d go for it

  27. Hillary on January 7, 2017 at 9:15 pm

    I just started adding collagen as a supplement (thanks to my naturopath, too). How much do you add to your coffee and smoothies? 🙂

  28. Amanda Holly on July 29, 2019 at 9:41 am

    I am not yet convinced we need to take collagen and Aloe Vera? I take Liposomal Vitamin C (your body absorbs 95% of it) and Aloe Vera. Toghether they stimulates cell growth and collagen 6 times more than anytjing else. taking collagen as well maybe an unnecssary cost and over load?

    Its no 2019, are you still taking the supplements? Any updates for us?

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