The word “collagen” is derived from “kolla,” the Greek word for glue. Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies and the structural protein for our connective tissue.
Since we stop producing collagen in our mid- to late 20s, can digestible collagen rejuvenate us, helping to turn back the clock on wrinkles, hair loss, joint pain and more?
Maybe yes, maybe no is the general medical consensus, in part due to a lack of scientific evidence concerning collagen’s absorption, experts told us. But some say they believe collagen research may be promising. Foods rich in collagen, such as oh-so-trendy bone broth, can contribute to the proper functioning of the digestive, immune and nervous systems. Dr. Roshini Raj, a New York gastroenterologist and creator of the Tula line of probiotic skin-care products, said some studies suggest that eating or drinking collagen may indeed help improve skin elasticity, hair growth and bone strength.
Your best bet if you’d like to try it for yourself? Speak to your doctor about any concerns. We found eight companies that produce organic collagen and/or bone broth products from grass-fed, pasture-raised livestock, making many of them appropriate for those following Instagram-approved paleo, keto or Whole30 diets.
A collagen elixir
Eviva water is infused with a blend of fish and avian collagen and comes in three flavors: cucumber mint, lavender lemon and lemongrass ginger. Founder Elaine Morrison said that before she began taking collagen she suffered from extreme fatigue and was losing her hair. Adding collagen to her diet reduced her joint pain, made her hair grow back and, she says, has boosted the quality of her skin. Info: $44.99 for a 12-pack mix of all three flavors, drinkeviva.com
Food as medicine
The Osso Good Co. believes in the benefits of collagen for gut health and food as medicine, said company Chief Executive Meredith Cochran, adding that bone broth is a “great delivery system.” The Osso Good line includes beef, chicken, turkey, pork and a signature broth along with several soups. Info: Bone broths start at $9.99 for a 16-ounce pouch, minimum purchase required, ossogoodbones.com
After watching her mother use homemade bone broth to nurse her father through his cancer fight, Soo-Ah Landa wanted to introduce people to its benefits — but without all the fat. Her Bru Broth melds organic bone broth with fresh-pressed fruit and vegetable juices because she “didn’t like that fatty liquid-hoof taste of many bone broths.” She likens it to “liquid yoga — like yoga for your insides.” Info: $69 for a six-pack of 16-ounce bottles, brubroth.com
‘Like your grandmother’
Two of Kitchen Witch’s three female founders have backgrounds in traditional Chinese medicine. Magali Brecke, a licensed acupuncturist, is the company’s chef and nutritional director. She said they want people “to have a whole food in its most pure form,” which is why their broths have an all-natural high gel content. “It’s not that secret — do it like your grandmother would do it.” Info: $133.80 for a case of nine 20-ounce jars of bone broth, kitchenwitchbroth.com
Easy to sip
Lindsey Wilson began making bone broths to treat her irritable bowel syndrome and candida issues. Sipping broths and eliminating alcohol, gluten and dairy from her diet also helped her lose 20 pounds in two months. No surprise: Her friends began requesting broth. Suddenly, she was in the bone broth business. Her One Whole Life broths are infused with fresh, locally sourced organic herbs and are easy to sip, like a mild tea. Info: $21 for a 32-ounce jar of broth elixir, owlvenice.com
‘Face-lift in a bottle’
Erewhon markets carry Kitchen Witch and One Whole Life bone broths, as well as Eviva water, and the chain also makes its own broth, blending in mushrooms and herbs such as “dandelion and echinacea, turmeric, lemongrass and kombu that we don’t see in many other broths,” says chef Michael Falso. The broth with chicken feet “is loaded with collagen,” and more collagen peptides are added on top of that. He says it’s like “a face-lift in a bottle,” a claim that no doubt moves product. Info: $140 for a three-day bone broth/soup cleanse supply, erewhonmarket.com
To make its broth, Thrive Market partnered with a jerky brand that was throwing away its bones. “We said, ‘Let’s do the whole cow and create an organic, grass-fed bone broth cooked with all organic vegetables,’ ” said Nick Green, co-founder of Thrive Market, a kind of Costco for organic, health-conscious, eco-friendly staples. (Membership costs $59.95 a year.) It carries organic bone broths, bone broth protein powders and collagen peptides from others and makes its own. Info: Thrive’s bone broth costs $6.99 for a 16.9-ounce carton, thrivemarket.com
Sourced to the farm
The three founders of PaleoPro actually created their company in paleo self-defense. They were trying to follow a paleo diet and found many allegedly “paleo-friendly” products weren’t all that healthy. Co-founder Doug Smith said they wanted to create protein products they could source directly to farmers and grass-fed animals: “You’ve got to know where your food’s coming from.” Info: $39.99 for a 1 lb. tub of collagen protein powder that comes in flavors such as Aztec vanilla and ancient cacao, paleopro.com