Collagen peptides are a health trend I took a while to come around to, for two reasons. First, they're not available too many places. Second, they're an animal-derived product. Before December of 2016, I was seeing posts about about them frequently and my holistic doctor even started carrying them in her office. I was intrigued for some time, but the act of purchasing didn't happen without research and an ungodly amount of stalling.
My relationship to beef (all meat, actually) had been nearly nonexistent for a few years after my GI tract diagnosis in 2015. I gave up meat primarily because I could not digest it, but I also felt better about the environmental and ethical benefits of not consuming beef.
The benefits of collagen peptides looked and sounded sensational but my initial thoughts were cringey. Now I know better about the benefits of grass-fed meats for myself and the environment and incorporate them abundantly into my diet. I started with a brand called Vital Proteins. Their website does a great job of explaining the purpose and function of collagen peptides and how they source them sustainably from grass-fed beef in South America. My goal was to restore gut health, strengthen my immune system, and maybe help with hair growth (I was highly skeptical of this particular claim).
Two months into taking collagen peptides I started to see a huge change in my digestion and hair.
So, what is collagen?
Our bodies are full of this protein that makes up connective tissue, it's a building block for everything from hair to joints. Amino acids are needed for your body to build new collagen, so taking collagen peptides stimulates certain cells to in the body to get that process going. While plant-derived supplementation exist to support collagen production, animal-derived supplementation is far more effective and beneficial for the human body to absorb.
The results were noticeable for hair growth after just over a month taking the collagen peptides everyday. In May and July of 2016 I had two significant eye surgeries that caused me to lose about half of my eyelashes. Some grew back on their own, but sparsely at that.
After only one month of taking the collagen peptides not only have my eyelashes regrown fully, but they're longer and fuller than ever. I'm now on month 3 of taking collagen peptides, and my hair is growing significantly faster and stronger than I've ever experienced.
Internal gut restoration, immune support, and bone and joint health were a bit harder to judge at first. Eventually I switched to beef gelatin as my primary supplementation and I have had astonishing success in restoring my gut health.
Gelatin vs. Collagen Peptides
Essentially, gelatin and collagen peptides start out as the same hides. Their amino acid profiles are quite similar, but collagen peptides are broken down further than gelatin by an enzyme. The primary reason I take gelatin instead of collagen peptides on a daily basis is because gelatin coats the small intestine upon entering the GI tract and takes longer to digest. Keep in mind that gelatin cannot be added to cold liquids or foods, in those cases I add collagen peptides.