In recent years, collagen has been a real buzzword, especially in the anti-aging field, as well as a means for healthy skin & hair. In the community around animal diets the same, only here connective tissue & bone broth were the focus of attention. Rightly so, because collagen contains an important amino acid called glycine – which is essential for our health and can balance various possible problems that come with the consumption of the sulfur-containing amino acid methionine. But more on that later!

Nevertheless, many today have too little of the amino acid glycine on their plates – plant-based diets provide far too little, omnivores also find little in traditional dietary sources, and even carnivores fall into the trap of eating too little if they ignore certain things. Thus, high animal protein consumption does not automatically equal sufficient glycine. The details are important.

And that’s what we’ll look at, answering the question of why we need it and whether collagen supplementation can help as well.

The Role of Collagen in your Body

What exactly is Collagen?

Collagen is one of the most abundant proteins in the body and is fundamentally important for all connective tissue. As a fun fact, it makes up about 30% of your body’s total proteins and can be found everywhere tissues and cells need to be held together – in cell membranes, in the cells themselves, but also in tendons, skin, and cartilage. It is truly the scaffolding of the body. Or the glue, depending on your point of view.

The Structure of Collagen

The word collagen is often thrown around as one, but it actually means 28 different collagen molecules. The most common in our bodies is type II collagen, but a few others occur in quantity:1

  • Type I – Used in the Cartolage of Joints
  • Type III – Part of Lympathic Tissue & Bone Marrow
  • Type IV – Present in Cell Membranes
  • Type V – Found in different Cells & Hair

They all differ from each other on a molecular level in shape, weight, and size, but for us these details are less interesting.2

What is important to know that collagen always occurs in a ‘triple spiral (‘triple helix’ in the literature). It always consists of three amino acids: glycine + X + X. So always glycine and the other two are interchangeable, with proline & hydroxyproline being chosen more often.3More on the triple helix of collagen: Molecular Structure of the Collagen Triple Helix

Because of this triple helix, there are exciting experiments in quantum health trying to establish collagen as the cell’s superconductor: It can indeed conduct electrons and responds to magnetic fields. Some researchers believe it is a main information system besides the body’s biochemical one. I also belong to this faction and explain the effects of grounding or the damage done by EMF for example with this. Exciting topics in any case, but in need of much more research!4Electroconductivity of collagen in vitro and in vivo

THe Body’s Capacity to synthesize Colalgen

Your body can produce collagen itself – but needs resources such as glycine, zinc, copper, manganese and vitamin C.5Hence scurvy and dental problems, as extreme vitamin C deficiency manifests itself as collagen synthesis disorder. The periodontum can be affected.Lack of these, no collagen. Zinc & copper you will find in quantity only as a zoonutrient in animal meats & organs or seafood. Vitamin C as well or in fruits and fresh meats & organs – in fact best eaten raw as Vitamin C is very heat unstable & water soluble. Manganese also found in fruits or pastured animals.

Collagen is the basic building block of all your body tissues. It is the scaffolding on which everything is built.
Collagen is the basic building block of all your body tissues.

Which Roles fulfills Collagen in the Body?

Collagen is ubiquitous in our connective tissue. For example, 80% of the proteins in our skin are made up of it. In addition, it fulfills critical roles in bone health, joint function, and even participates in inflammatory processes in the gut and tissues.

While we can synthesize it ourselves, I see it as with many substances of methylation like creatine or phosphatidylcholine. Self-production is more of a ‘failsafe’. In times of hunger or bad luck in hunting, we survive this way – but also deplete our resources. However, it does not make it the standard. And fortunately, it doesn’t have to be, since you get enough on a good nose-to-tail, animal-based diet.

Collagen & Inflammation

Collagen acts on many vectors that contribute to a well-functioning inflammatory response – for the nerds, it’s the dendritic cells in the gut, T-cells in the tissues, and various interleukins. What collagen does is help you function in a well-tuned way and only become active in the right context – neither too little nor too much, as both are fatal. In many modern people who are often chronically inflamed, collagen often shows an anti-inflammatory effect.6

Therefore, it is very healthy for overall gut health and serves as ‘protection’ (read to maintain normal function) against leaky gut similar to glutamine. It also helps autoimmune diseases, especially joint inflammation such as arthritis, osteoarthritis and rheumatic diseases. Nevertheless, it should not be forgotten that the main problem of these diseases is a poor diet and failed intestinal health.

Collagen & Joint Health

Collagen - holds everything together, since the beginning of cellular times.
Collagen – holds everything together, since the beginning of cellular times.

In terms of joints, collagen shines the most: it also helps inflammatory processes to function in a balanced way. It also helps in the proper building of joint tissues. Type II collagen is found here in particular.

Studies have measured an improvement in joint pain with exercise, indicating its importance. Even though the rest of the studies look rather lousy, it’s more of a substance needed long-term through diet than a therapeutic miracle cure.7Read about Type II Collagen on Examine + 24-Week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain & A double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomised, clinical study on the effectiveness of collagen peptide on osteoarthritis

Collagen & Skin Health

Type I & III molecules predominate in the skin. Interestingly, however, supplementation with type II collagen also resulted in more of the first two being produced. The body already knows what it needs for what. Also, supplementation led to more hyaluronic acid in the skin and joints, which acts as a nutrient donor there.8A Collagen Supplement Improves Skin Hydration, Elasticity, Roughness, and Density: Results of a Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Blind Study

In the skin, collagen formation is also important to maintain our defense against UVB radiation, but also for the synthesis of vitamin D from cholesterol.

It is important to mention that all these effects should be the standard and have occurred because we have a deficiently nourished population sufficiently supplied with it. Who knows where the health limit is upwards?

What is the Methionine-to-Glycine Balance?

The amino acids glycine & methionine are both amino acids of great importance for methylation. Methionine is the main fuel to produce SAMe, glycine is important for the so-called ‘short route’ of homocysteine recycling and together with choline helps to save methylfolate.

What does the Body need Methionine for?

My version of the methylation cycle
My version of the methylation cycle

Methionine is a sulfur-containing amino acid that we find mostly in animal protein. This makes it an important sulfur donor for the body. Also, our body can produce it itself, at a cost of resources. However, its health effects take place largely through its fundamental importance in the methylation cycle – without methionine, no SAMe!

Methylation is just the process of moving a methyl group from A to B. It’s not a process. Nothing more. In the body, enzymes (methyltransferases) do that and push a group of a donor (SAMe) to whatever needs to be methylated. You can read more about this in detail here in my methylation article!

The effects are far-reaching:

So if you have too little methionine, you have too little SAMe and regulate 250 supporting enzymes of your body down. Tell that to your vegan friend.

What Role fulfills Glycine in the Body?

In addition to collagen synthesis, we also need glycine in the methylation cycle. Unlike methionine, glycine cannot be produced by our body. In food, we find it almost exclusively in the connective and supporting tissue of animals – two food groups that almost no one eats today.

The most important roles of Glycine are:

  • Buffer of the ‘Short Route’ – The short route is a recycling pathway from homocysteine to methionine that requires neither methylfolate (B9) nor methylcobalamin (B12). Instead it uses glycine & choline and reduces the need for B9.
  • Glycine is a neurotransmitter – It has inhibitory effects, similar to GABA and has fundamental roles as such. Hence the effects on growth hormone and muscular recovery after exercise.
  • A necessary building block of glutathione (GSH), your body’s main antioxidant.
  • For sulfotransferases (SULTs), which are a big player in Phase II detoxification. They are needed to get rid of steroid hormones, thyroid hormones, and certain environmental toxins.
  • …and of course collagen synthesis to make the triple helix with glycine-X-X.
methionin zu gylcin rate

The Methionine-to-Glycine Balance

Glycine is important…

Nutritionist Dr. Ray Peat has established this theory, along with many other balances in the body that he considers important (copper:iron, calcium:magnesium).

And in the context that glycine is important to balance methionine, I agree with him: since methionine and glycine are both involved in methylation, glycine is needed to get rid of excess methionine. If this does not happen, this cycle can suffer and homocysteine can rise, a known marker for methylation defects. Oxidative stress can also result. 11Methionine restriction decreases mitochondrial oxygen radical generation and leak as well as oxidative damage to mitochondrial DNA and proteins

…yet a predetermined Balance is BS

I argue against such a fixed balance, and against forcing supplementation. Many nutritionists set it as ~10:1 of methionine:glycine, which would mean around 15-30g of supplemented collagen per day. I find this unnecessary, good animal nose-to-tail nutrition provides enough: from the literature, around 8% of daily protein energy seems to come from glycine as optimal. Interestingly, this is also exactly the amount that ruminant muscle meat contains, provided you don’t just eat tenderloin, but all the other rougher cuts as well.12

And so I think you get enough glycine – with rough cuts, organs, a bone broth or two, and edible bones. Nose-to-tail just what humans have done since the beginning of time. That way you get plenty of methionine and bypass the potential toxic effects, as well as get into the positive effects of plenty of glycine. Eat like your ancestors and all will be well!13

However, if you don’t eat, it won’t. This is also a big criticism of mine of all-meat carnivores, but also of all plant-based and omnivorous diets that don’t include these nutrients. For these groups, if they don’t address glycine deficiency via diet, collagen or glycine supplementation then makes sense. However, in my opinion, wasted money. Ribeyes taste better for the money.

q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B071P67LCY&Format= SL250 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=DE&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=ancestrallyhe 21&language=de DEKollagenhydrolysat

If you want to learn more about a nutrient-dense diet, feel free to check out my 80-page eBook on the subject. It covers exactly the methionine-glycine balance and all the other vitamins, minerals and zoonutrients that are important for a person who wants to dominate their life.

That’s how you eat sufficient Collagen & Glycine from your Diet!

With physiology and some biochemistry under our belt, we can easily talk about the practical applications and see how best to get collagen and thus glycine. Also, the importance is now clear.

Purely logically, there are two vectors of attack of the problem:

  • the first is diet
  • the second is supplementation.

Even though my answer is probably already clear to you, let’s look at supplementation and what that might look like for people who don’t want to eat collagen.

Eat more Collagen by eating from Nose-to-Tail

Collagen is found in connective tissue, so you can also get plenty if you eat it. These include:

  • The best way: eat mostly firmer cuts like ribeye, soup meat, hock, ribs, or my favorite, leg slices.14For a chewy workout, YOU can just roast them as steaks; for more tender enjoyment, braise collagen-rich cuts in a slow cooker or crockpot for hours.
  • Organs also contain a lot of connective tissue, such as liver.
  • Certain fish, such as anchovies or sardines, can be eaten whole, bones included.
  • Cook your own bone broth from leftover marrow bones, soup bones, and other cartilaginous cuts like chicken feet.
  • Eat the cooked bones from the broth.
  • Make your own bone powder or spice mixes from cooked bones.

Cook your own Bone Broth

The main benefit of bone broth is collagen and thus the amino acid glycine.
The main benefit of bone broth is collagen and thus the amino acid glycine.

Bone broth can complement meat connective tissue well and be a delicious addition every now and then. In addition, it is super easy to prepare, provided that you have a slow cooker at home:

  • Good bones like soup bones ,or spooned marrow bones
  • Sections, the harder parts or leftovers from other meals
  • Collagenous parts like feet, trunks or ears
  • Good amount of rock salt
  • Natural cloudy apple cider vinegar (to better dissolve minerals from the bones)

Throw all these in your slow cooker, fill it up with filtered water or good mineral water and forget about it for 24-48h. After that you can filter the broth and store it in jars in the fridge for 1W. Alternatively, you can freeze larger quantities in silicone bags in the refrigerator. With a large quantity, you can make broth for 1-2W in just a few minutes. Two great recipes for beef broth or chicken broth can be found here.

Supplementation wuth Collagen Hydrolysat

Collagen Hydrolysate comes as a powder, tastes like nothing and is easy to add to anything. Per person, it should be 15-30g of collagen per day depending on your consumption of methionine, which is animal protein. As a rule of thumb, divide your dietary animal protein by 10 and add 10 for approximate values within that range.

It is best to get this from pasture-raised cattle, so you avoid possible proteins from heavy metal contamination from aquatic sources. However, if you find tested aquatic collagen, it is also an alternative: while bovine collagen comes mostly as Type II, aquatic collagen is mostly in Type I & III forms.

Supplemental collagen is far inferior to real food collagen. Plus, it’s useless and overpriced if you eat a whole foods, nose to tail, fin to shell diet. They will provide you with collagen plus a myriad additional nutrients.

Real Food always Wins!

And with that, I would like to end this post for today. Eating right is superior to any powder.

You can fix all deficiencies with diet and lifestyle and say goodfuckingbye to supplements. If you live like a human, everything comes to each other. So rather invest in good meat and good cuts from ruminants, it tastes far better and comes with the amounts of glycine your body needs.

And with that short statement I could have saved myself the post. But at least we now know the whole story by now!

This is my Signature

Fußnoten & Quellen

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *