A Supplement That Ticks All My Boxes — From Healthy Joints To Glowing Skin
Confession time: Until recently, I was an mbg editor who didn't regularly take supplements. I was all for them in theory, but in practice, I'd never found one that helped enough to motivate me to take it every day.
This year, though, a combination of things made me want to give supplementation another go: For starters, I'd been nursing a cold for most of the fall and winter after going years as "the one who never gets sick." My energy levels had also taken a beating: I've never been a morning person, but getting out of bed for early workouts started to feel next to impossible. Aches and stiffness seemed to be staying around for longer. After workouts, my legs would get so tight that even sitting in a chair at my desk for the day was uncomfortable. I'm a runner and am hoping to take on some more challenging races soon, but these little things were adding up to make it tough to progress with my training.
Why I finally gave collagen supplements a try.
It was around that time that I listened to Robert Rountree, M.D., talk about collagen on the mbg podcast. I had heard of people using collagen for a better complexion and stronger nails, but I didn't realize it also played a role in joint and bone health and recovery. The pioneering functional medicine doc piqued my interest when he started talking about how when collagen is combined with other nutrients, like curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric) and sulforaphane (a compound found in broccoli), it gets better at managing inflammatory processes—which is the root of a lot of aches, stiffness, and sniffles. As a mostly plant-based eater who likes to stay pretty active, I'm always looking for new sources of protein to add to my diet: another reason collagen appealed to me. If any supplement could tick all my stiff, achy, tired boxes, then it sounded like collagen was the one.*
With all that being said, I'm a sustainability editor who spends most of her days researching the challenges that face our planet—and conventional agriculture is a big one. So it was important to me to know where the collagen in my new supplement came from. mindbodygreen's grass-fed collagen+ comes from cows who are pasture-raised on a farm in Brazil. Beyond being responsibly sourced, mbg's collagen+ is also rigorously tested (four times, in fact), so I felt good taking it knowing it didn't have any fillers or weird additives.
What it was like to try collagen+.
The first time I tried collagen+, I was surprised by how easily it incorporated into my drinks.
After weeks of adding mbg's collagen to beverages daily, I have yet to find anything that it doesn't work in. This is thanks to the taste (it is super mild) and the texture (thick and rich but not chalky). It also dissolves in beverages hot and cold: I've used it to give my morning smoothies a protein boost and make my nightly tea a little more nourishing.
The fact that it tastes great in anything is really big for me: It means that taking it every day is actually enjoyable and easy to keep up with.
collagen+ has made me feel stronger and faster.*
Since getting in the habit of taking mbg's collagen+, I've noticed that the aches and soreness following a hard workout don't stick around for as long.* Although running two days back-to-back used to be enough to make me sore, I've been able to train three to four days in a row and still feel fresh. It helps that my energy levels have been feeling more steady and I'm not relying on the snooze button as much in the mornings.*
The simple act of taking something with recovery in mind has nudged me to pay more attention to other post-workout best practices too, like stretching, foam rolling, and honoring rest days. I've also (knock on wood) finally beat my winter sniffles, and while I can't thank collagen alone, I wouldn't be surprised if it helped push things along.*
The beauty benefits.*
The visible effects of collagen+ have been an unexpected bonus: My skin looks and feels more hydrated, and my good hair days are more frequent.* I have long, thick hair that tends to fall on the dry and dull side. Since taking collagen, I've noticed my locks appear shinier and more nourished even though I haven't changed any other part of my haircare routine.* I also appreciate that the supplement's high antioxidant count helps protect my skin from photoaging (aka sun damage) since I spend so much time running outside.*
The bottom line.
2020 will go down as the year I officially became a supplement convert, and I'm happy to have found something that helps ease my aches, soreness, and stiffness; gives me an energy boost; and strengthens my hair, skin, and nails*—all in one delicious scoop.
Emma Loewe is the Sustainability and Health Director at mindbodygreen and the author of Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us. She is also the co-author of The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care, which she wrote alongside Lindsay Kellner.
Emma received her B.A. in Environmental Science & Policy with a specialty in environmental communications from Duke University. In addition to penning over 1,000 mbg articles on topics from the water crisis in California to the rise of urban beekeeping, her work has appeared on Grist, Bloomberg News, Bustle, and Forbes. She's spoken about the intersection of self-care and sustainability on podcasts and live events alongside environmental thought leaders like Marci Zaroff, Gay Browne, and Summer Rayne Oakes.