As a parent, I am constantly on the lookout for ways to ensure my children's well-being and support their growth and development. Six years ago, while doing some health research (I have arthritis in my knee), I stumbled upon a game-changer that transformed my approach to nutrition - hydrolyzed collagen peptide powder.
Within 4-6 weeks of taking hydrolysed collagen every day, my knee pain and mobility improved dramatically as did my general health and energy levels. So amazed was I that I stated incorporating it into my kids diets.
In this article, I want to share my personal experience and shed light on why incorporating this supplement into my children's diet has been a health-conscious decision with numerous benefits.
Our kids are growing up at a time of unprecedented change in food environments, whereby nutritional problems of micronutrient deficiency and food insecurity persist, and overweight and obesity are out of control.
I've learned that in late childhood and early adolescence, nutrition has a formative role in the timing and pattern of puberty, with consequences for adult height, muscle, and fat mass accrual, as well as risk of non-communicable diseases in later life.
Our family's diet had evolved detrimentally over the years, unintentionally transitioning from traditional, nutrient-dense foods like my mum and Nona used to make when I was a child, to more processed and convenience driven options.
Coming from an Italian background it was common for my Nona and her family to eat all parts of the animal including organ meats, with nothing wasted, as all the bones and sinewy ‘bits-and-pieces’ boiled up to produce a nutritious stock full of gelatin. Eating ‘nose-to-tail’ provided more complete nutrition than muscle meat alone. Cartilage, skin, and meat synergize when consumed together. Put simply, through the frequent and lifelong consumption of collagen, my immediate ancestors amino acid intake was not only exceedingly rich, but balanced, and it showed in their health.
If your family is anything like mine, this shift has probably resulted in a significant decrease in the consumption of collagen-rich foods, such as bone broth, stews, and gelatin-containing dishes.
Reduced Gelatin Consumption and Its Consequences:
As I dug deeper into the research I was shocked to find that there are a number of health outcomes including all-cause mortality, cancer risk, cardiovascular disease risk, and obesity, as well as non-health-related outcomes such as academic performance, that are associated with poor diet quality in children. Here's a few of the studies to check out: (Florence et al., 2008; Pandita et al., 2016; Sahoo et al., 2015; Wirt & Collins, 2009).
As much as I tried, I found it impossible to stop my kids from being introduced to more and more processed and convenience-oriented foods. What's worse is my kids often turned their nose up when I offered them my traditional homemade broths, stews, and casserole dishes.
That's when I discovered hydrolyzed collagen, and that changed everything.
So why is collagen so important for kids?
Even if your teens enjoy a lean steak or chicken breast, eating only lean muscle meats does not provide a balanced amino acid intake. Muscle meats are stacked high in the amino acid methionine and contain little glycine and proline.
Gelatin and hydrolysed collagen contain a powerhouse of amino acids and peptides. In fact, they contain the highest amount of glycine and proline of any known food, by far. Alanine is also present in significant quantity.
Studies show that Glycine has been used to:
- prevent tissue injury;
- enhance anti-oxidative capacity;
- promote protein synthesis and wound healing;
- improve immunity; and
- treat metabolic disorders in obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, ischemia-reperfusion injuries, cancers, and various inflammatory diseases.
I've learned that, when it comes to my family's diet and nutrition, the balance of amino acids is important.
World renowned biologist, Dr Ray Peat PhD says;
'This whole-animal balance of amino acids supports all sorts of biological process, including a balanced growth of children's tissues and organs'.
Here's 8 reasons why I give my kids Hydrolyzed Collagen
1. Supporting Bone Health
Teenage years are crucial for bone development, and collagen plays a pivotal role in this process. Collagen is a key component of the extracellular matrix in bones, providing structural support, and protecting from fractures.
On average, 10–19 year-olds gain 20% of their final adult height and 50% of adult weight during this growth phase, with a considerable remodelling of the skeleton and an increase in bone mass of up to 40%.
There is a lag of approximately 8 months between peak height attainment and acquisition of peak bone mass. It has been suggested that the high incidence of fracture during adolescence may arise, in part, as a consequence of relative undermineralization or a lag in bone density during this time.
The peak incidence of fracture in boys is at 14 years and in girls at 11 years of age. These peaks roughly coincide with the timing of peak height velocity when the rate of bone growth is at its greatest.
Studies suggest that collagen supplementation may contribute to increased bone mineral density and improved bone health in growing children.
Collagen, and in particular Type III collagen, plays a key role in tissue repair and the healing process of many tissues, including bone.
Type III collagen expression is increased during bone development as well as early in the healing process of a variety of tissues such as bone, tendon, ligament and skin.
Fracture callus has been shown in studies to contain considerable amounts of Collagen Type III, which is later replaced by Type I collagen. Collagen Type III is crucial for the repair and maintenance of bone, including its requirement for growth acceleration of new bone cells.
Hydrolysed collagen peptide powder is quickly and easily digested (I mix it into my kids smoothies, chocolate milk, or make homemade gummy bears etc), and can enhance the absorption of essential amino acids necessary for bone formation.
The collagen I use, CollagenX pure bovine collagen powder contains both Type I and Type III collagen.
2. Enhancing Connective Tissues
Active teenagers like mine, who are involved in sports, put additional strain on their ligaments, tendons, and cartilage. Collagen is essential for the strength and flexibility of these connective tissues.
Hydrolysed collagen peptide powder provides my children's growing bodies with the necessary building blocks for repairing and maintaining these structures. Research has shown that collagen supplementation can contribute to the improvement of joint function and reduce the risk of injuries in athletes.
According to published research, orally administered hydrolysed collagen has been shown to be absorbed intestinally and to accumulate in cartilage.
3. Growing Pains
My kids, like most, complained of aches and pains as they were growing up. Growing pains is one of the most common causes of recurrent musculoskeletal pain in children.
Many causes of growing pains have been proposed. These include anatomic causes (eg, hypermobility, low bone mineral density), psychological causes (eg, stress), vascular causes (eg, skeletal vascular perfusion), and metabolic causes (eg, low vitamin D levels).
World renowned tendon expert Dr Keith Baar, Professor of Molecular Exercise Physiology at the University of California, believes it relates to a combination of these processes and supplements his 14 year old daughter with hydrolyzed collagen.
“what you always see in kids especially kids who start to grow and what we call ‘growing pains’ which is basically at the spot where the tendon is joining the bone there's a lot of pain associated with that, so you get that in the achilles, you get that in the knee, you get other knee pains associated with it, and classically that was like this growing pain type of thing, we use again loading (resistance exercise) but then we're going to add some nutrition in there, we get dietary collagen in there to provide a little bit more of a stimulus, a little bit more of the amino acids that those tendons need in order to really quickly grow at the rate that these kids are growing because you know you'll see kids who grow four or five inches in a year that's a huge stimulus”.
Professor Baar heads a team of research professionals who work to understand the molecular determinants of musculoskeletal development and the role of exercise in improving health and performance.
“your height growth is based on your bones, those growth plates pushing apart, that's dependent on collagen, that's the thing that's happening is the collagen is pushing apart because you're increasing the collagen content in the growth plate and then you're mineralizing that collagen to make the bone”
He goes on to say;
“the same thing has to happen obviously at the tendons where you're getting this elongation stimulus from the bone now your tendon has to grow in length and sometimes you need to really increase the amount of collagen synthesis you're doing and we've shown that you can do that by using dietary collagen”
Baar’s research is focused on understanding how training and feeding result in improved muscle, tendon and ligament function. In his capacity as a researcher, he has made fundamental discoveries on how muscle grows bigger, stronger, and more fatigue resistant.
“so especially in young athletes that's something that we are really bringing in and my daughter, when she starts to get pain or her teammates have pain, within a couple weeks of a heavier load (exercise) together with that dietary collagen intake we see that those pains go away completely really quickly”
4. Accelerating Wound Healing
Kids are always going to be involved in scrapes, cuts, and bruises. Fast, clean healing is important to reduce susceptibility to infection. Collagen supplementation can help speed the healing process. Collagen is a vital component in the skin's structure, and its presence is crucial for wound healing.
Our collagen requirements increase during wound healing (which involves laying down collagen to build new tissue), so a little extra in the diet can make a big difference.
Supplementation with hydrolysed collagen is made all the more necessary for wound healing as neither children or adults, can synthesize a sufficient quantity of proline to repair wound tissues optimally.
Whether its recovery from cuts and scrapes, broken bones, torn ligaments or tendons, bruising, or recovery after surgery, hydrolyzed collagen can make a huge difference to the recovery time.
Studies have indicated that collagen supplementation can enhance wound healing, and it has certainly been a valuable addition in the diet of my kids who are prone to cuts and injuries.
5. Promoting Better Sleep
Quality sleep is essential for toddlers and teenagers' growth and overall well-being. As I’ve pointed out earlier, collagen contains large amounts of the amino acid glycine, which has calming effects on the nervous system.
There are a stack of studies showing that incorporating hydrolysed collagen peptide powder into your child's diet may help improve sleep quality and reduce sleep disturbances.
This study showed that taking glycine before sleep improves sleep quality and sleep efficacy by shortening the time to fall asleep while increasing restorative, slow-wave deep sleep. It also showed that the following day subjects had lessened daytime sleepiness and improved performance of memory recognition tasks.
Another study showed that glycine helps improve REM sleep and decrease non-REM sleep and this study showed that 3g Glycine (about a heaped table spoon of CollagenX) given to volunteers before sleeping resulted in improvements in fatigue, ‘liveliness and peppiness,’ and ‘clear-headedness’.
Also glycine appears to improve daytime sleepiness and fatigue induced by sleep deprivation as shown in this study (Now I'm sure that got your attention :)
6. Fortifying the Immune System
The immune system plays a vital role in protecting infants, teenagers, and adults from illnesses. Collagen peptide powder is known to support the immune system by promoting the production of immune cells.
Research suggests that collagen supplementation can enhance the body's defense mechanisms, contributing to a strengthened immune system.
Glycine can prevent and fight virus invasiveness by reinforcing the extracellular matrix. That means less sniffles, colds and flu.
The extracellular matrix, mainly composed of collagen, is a mechanical barrier against infective agents, including viruses. High glycine availability is needed for a healthy collagen turnover. Glycine produced by human metabolism is much lower than the cell’s needs giving a general glycine deficiency of 10 g/day in humans.
This effect was tested for three years in 127 volunteers who had virus infections usually once or more times every year. 85 of them took glycine 10 g/day; 42 did not take glycine. Among those who took glycine, only 16 (12 of whom had infections two or more times each year) had the flu just in the first year –but much reduced in severity and duration– while those who did not take glycine, were infected as often and as severely as before. Glycine intake at 10g/day prevents the spread of viruses by strengthening the extracellular matrix barriers against their advance.
7. Help prevent and reduce acne scaring
Both my kids suffered from acne outbreaks and scaring through their late teens and early adult lives. Hydrolysed collagen helped clear up and heal all signs of pimples, cysts, and blackheads.
Recent scientific literature emphasizes the interconnectedness of the gut and skin, often referred to as the gut-skin axis. The gut houses a diverse community of microorganisms, collectively known as the gut microbiota, which plays a pivotal role in maintaining overall health, including skin health.
Several studies have highlighted a correlation between an imbalance in gut microbiota and skin conditions like acne. An unhealthy gut can lead to systemic inflammation, compromising the skin's ability to ward off acne-causing bacteria. Hydrolyzed collagen may contribute to a healthier gut environment, influencing the gut-skin axis positively.
Inflammation is a common denominator in various skin conditions, including acne. Hydrolyzed collagen has been shown to possess anti-inflammatory properties, mitigating the inflammatory response in the body. By reducing inflammation, collagen helps to minimize the redness and swelling associated with acne breakouts.
In addition to preventing acne breakouts, hydrolyzed collagen may play a role in reducing scar tissue caused by acne. When the skin undergoes trauma, such as during the healing process of acne lesions, collagen is a crucial component in forming the new tissue.
Research published in the "Journal of Drugs in Dermatology" (2018) explored the use of oral collagen supplementation for scar management. The study found that participants who consumed collagen supplements exhibited improved wound healing and reduced scar formation compared to the control group.
Collagen's amino acids are crucial in maintaining hormonal balance, particularly for cortisol (a stress hormone) and estrogen. Imbalances in cortisol and estrogen levels can lead to skin inflammation, making it vital to regulate these hormones to prevent skin issues. Furthermore, collagen's glycine content supports the liver in eliminating toxins and excess hormones, contributing to hormonal balance and overall skin and gut health.
8. Teeth and Dental Hygiene
There have been a number of scientific studies that have showed Glycine’s positive impact on dental health and its effect in reducing cavities. Although these studies were performed on animals, the results are extremely encouraging for us humans.
In this study, Glycine supplementation caused a 65.7% reduction in the development of cavities.
In other recent investigations, Breivik and coworkers pointed to the anti-inflammatory potential of glycine in oral tissues. In their animal experiments, these authors were able to demonstrate a significant reduction of artificially induced periodontal infection following a specific glycine diet. Substitution of glycine to animal’s food prevented animals from severe periodontal breakdown.
Incorporating hydrolyzed collagen into our children's diet has been a transformative experience for our family. From supporting their growth and development to promoting overall well-being, the benefits have been noteworthy.
While individual responses may vary, I believe it's worth exploring this supplement and observing the positive changes it can bring to your children's health. I believe that by supplementing with CollagenX hydrolysed collagen, you can bridge the nutritional gap and promote optimal well-being for yourself and your children.