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Best Collagen for Menopause

Niamh Daly March 3, 2024 2 comments 0

Collagen supplements are becoming more and more popular among women in menopause. Here I help you know what’s the best option for your needs.

Studies into collagen supplements point to support for, among others, some areas relevant to menopause:
  • joint stiffness associated with osteoarthritis,
  • cartilage repair,
  • bone density and quality,
  • blood vessel health,
  • skin hydration and elasticity.
The value of supplementing with collagen is more or less clear depending on the area of the body, and on the source. This may not be because it is more effective in one area and/or from one source more than another, but because research is progressing at different rates. However, it’s an expensive, non-vegetarian option, so it would be great to have some idea of what’s best, and if there are other routes for you?
The main sources of collagen supplements are from cows, pigs, chicken and a variety of marine sources.
Bovine (cow) porcine (pig) and poultry-sourced collagen have shown benefits for many areas of the body, but though less well researched, marine collagen looks good for, for example, joints and skin, with promising results for bones (so far in non-human subjects). The level of research ongoing is incredible, with studies even analysing the skin-sourced collagen from individual species of fish, or the type of diet of the animal source, for different efficacies!
Your choice of supplement, if that’s how you are intending to get it, may depend on what you want from it, as different sources are higher in different types.
  • Bovine and porcine are higher in types I and III
  • marine has mostly type I
  • chicken is a good source of type II.
I’ll talk about “Vegan Collagen” and about how to optimise collagen through your food choices later in this blog.

So consider what area of the body you want most to support.

All tissues have an array of collagens, and there are almost 30 types in the human body. Below are some areas of physical health that may need more support in perimenopause and postmenopause and the main types of collagen found there. Not all of them are known to be supported by collagen supplementation.

Very basically:

  • Type I is the most abundant in the bodyCollagen in menopause
  • Bones are higher in type I
  • Ligaments and tendons are higher in type I
  • Muscles are high in type III
  • Pelvic floor has mostly type I and III
  • Joint cartilage is higher in type II
  • The bowel and womb, and also blood vessels have a lot of type III
  • If you’re in it just for aesthetic “anti/aging” (and that’s a whole other blog where I get miffed about our priorities…), it’s type I.
In all tissues, there is an interplay of types that is not fully understood, so quantity may not equal importance. In addition to quantity decrease, this balance can change in peri and post menopause, and after injury.

So, consider: where can I get what I need?

I’m here to offer you some information about the type and source. If you’re looking for product advice that’s a separate issue. I’m not affiliated with any company, and though there are specific studies on specific trademarked concoctions, my guess is that any hydrolised collagen is going to do a similar job. It does need to be accompanied by a varied diet though, as Vitamins (especially C) and minerals are important to help us create and absorb collagen.
Studies into supplementation point to
  • improved bone health markers in the blood,
  • better bone mineral density scores,
  • improvements in the stiffness of arteries,
  • improvements in stiffness related to osteoarthritis,
  • increased muscle mass (more limited study).
These are all major considerations for post-menopausal women, and this may point to aiming for supplements that have more of the collagen types associated with these areas.
Choosing the product you buy is going to depend mostly on the creature/s it is made from. If you don’t quite know why you want to take it, bovine is likely to be the most far-reaching, and cheaper than combined sources.Confused about collagen in menopause? I can help
Some supplements will list the types of collagen in the product. Many won’t. The name may describe what area they are targeting with their concoction (for instance, the well-researched “Fortibone” has obvious intentions). You can ring or email a company to get more detailed information from them: consumer power!
What’s the difference between the sources?
The most robust research done into collagen for bone health points to animal sourced (incl beef, pork and poultry). Not great news for vegetarians. Marine-sourced has value too. But though research into marine collagen is quite limited, it is looking good. This is better news if you are pescetarian, and/or want to avoid beef, pork or poultry. See above for what types are predominant from different sources
You may have seen Vegan Collagen, but the smaller print should make clear that it is a collagen “booster” containing similar amino acids, because collagen itself is only available from mammalian, avian and marine sources. Though there is some promising research for this kind of product, personally, I wonder if, given that in post menopause the body’s production of collagen slows, it may be that supplementation that is supposed to stimulate collagen production (rather than the actual substance), may be difficult to utilise.
You might be just as well to spend your money on dietary sources (listed later).
Hydrolised is generally the most absorbable kind, with marine collagen being considered even more absorbable.
Recommendations for dosage stand at anything from 2.5-15g per day being well tolerated, but I see supplements suggesting quite a bit more. You can save money (and avoid using more than has been tested for safety) by choosing your dosage at between the measurements above. But the majority of studies I have read point to about somewhere between 5-10g per day being effective for a few key areas.

So, what’s the best option for menopause concerns?

My opinion, knowing the changes of Menopause, is that if you are choosing one source, bovine would be preferable as it would ensure the presence of types I and III (which can help us make type II). Even better, if you can afford them, you can get supplements with multiple types sourced from bovine, poultry, marine and even eggshell, combined to tick even more of the boxes! Personally, I would aim for sustainably sourced, and if you can find it/afford it, get organic. Another good option would be to check if it’s from grass-fed beef, sustainably harvested marine sources, and free-range poultry.

Do I need to supplement?

As a Yogi, I know many of you reading will be vegetarian, so taking actual collagen may never be on the cards. If supplementing is not for you, a diet with plenty of protein (approx 1.2g per kg of bodyweight in menopausal women, but not more than 100g per day) alongside vitamin C, copper and zinc, and reducing sugar intake, are more natural ways to support your own collagen. The foods in this image either contain collagen (bone broth, fish skin, chicken stock), or help the body produce it because of some macro and micronutrients (protein, chlorophyll, zinc, copper, vitamin C, amino acids etc)
On a last note, aside from sustainability and animal welfare questions, there are possible health considerations. So, check where it’s coming from. Is it from industrially reared cattle or grass-fed/organic for example? Because like any animal product, disease transmission, and residue of pesticides, hormones and antibiotics may be issues you wish to consider.

Disclaimer:

This is not medical advice, and any supplements are never intended as an alternative to medical treatment. 
AS WITH ALL SUPPLEMENTS, PLEASE TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE TAKING ANYTHING NEW. 

If you would like to get some menopause-specific help, tweaking your nutrition and/or exercise choices to support you in what could be 1/3 to 1/2 of your life, I offer private sessions either one-off or continuous.

If you would like to learn how to support your clients, I run Yoga for Bone Health training, and Certificate in Teaching Yoga for the Stages of Menopause.

You can contact me if you’d like to learn more about how I can help you understand your changing needs, and how the meet them.

Niamh Daly is a Nutrition Coach, a teacher of Yoga, Pilates and Somatics, and Yoga teacher trainer in Yoga for Menopause which she created in 2015, and Yoga for Bone Health, and a CPD/CEC educator in Menopause Awareness and Strategies for Fitness Professionals and for Psychotherapists.

 

There are 2 comments on this post

  1. Terri O’Neill

    Loved this article Niamh. Very Informative. Thank you🙏😍

    Reply
    1. Niamh Daly

      Thank you! It’s complex as with all things!! Glad it was possible to learn something!

      Reply

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