What is Collagen Made of? The Whole Story From Source to Supplement

a pasture raised cow which is what collagen is made of

With the rising popularity of collagen supplementation comes the question: what is collagen made of?

Collagen makes up one-third of all the protein found in the human body, but as you age, your collagen production is depleted from stress, diet, and normal wear and tear. But don't worry! To maintain your collagen (and therefore your joints, skin, hair, and nails) you can supplement with pure Collagen Peptides from cows instead!

In this article, you will learn:

Step 1: Collagen Sourcing

Most collagen peptides, also known as hydrolyzed collagen, come from the hides and connective tissues of cows (and fish in the case of marine collagen). These hides would normally be discarded as a byproduct of the meat industry, but since they’re a perfect source of collagen, the hides are able to be "upcycled" and turned into a high-quality health product.

Until recently, eating all parts of the animal, including nutrient-rich organ meat and connective tissue was common across many cultures. These days, however, people mostly eat just muscle meat, and unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot of nutrition in muscle meat alone. That’s one of the reasons people are so crazy about collagen supplements; collagen contains important amino acids you won’t find in muscle meat.

By using collagen peptides, not only are you getting important amino acids that help your body produce more collagen for strong hair, skin, nails, and joints, but you’re also supporting sustainable farming practices that use all parts of the animal! 

While we can't speak for other collagen product makers, here at Natural Force we only use cowhides from the highest quality grass-fed and humanely treated cows raised free-range in Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. 

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Raising Happy, Healthy Cows

Sourcing the hides and connective tissue of happy, healthy cows is the most important part of the collagen peptide production process.

After extensive research, we found Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay to have some of the most impressive guidelines when it comes to raising cows. The  cattle are raised on rural properties and graze freely on natural grasslands. No artificial growth hormones such as rBST and rBGH are used.

In line with these high standards, the cows that become our collagen peptides are grass-fed. When supplemental nutrition is needed, only mineral salts and vegetables are provided. An additional benefit of pasture-raising cattle is that it allows the cattle to roam in herds and to socialize in a natural, healthy way. 

Step 2: From Cow Hides to Collagen Peptides

So, how does a cow go from connective tissue to a silky, tasteless, odorless powder that dissolves completely in liquid? The word hydrolyzed can seem intimidating or make it sound like the collagen peptides are highly processed, but the process is pretty simple:

  1. First, the cowhides are cleaned thoroughly and an alkaline (sodium hydroxide aka "lye") solution is used to remove excess fat.
  2. Next, they are soaked in acidic (acetic acid aka vinegar) 190 degrees F° water to facilitate the release of the collagen from the hide.
  3. The last steps are composed of a series of evaporation and milling techniques, which gives us the final result of a pure collagen protein powder.

How to Choose the Best Collagen Peptides

Regardless of where you purchase your collagen peptides, here are some best practices to consider:

  1. Check the amino acid profile. Always check the label for the top three amino acids that make up collagen: glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline. Choose brands that are transparent about their product’s entire amino acid profile, meaning every amino acid will be listed on the label.
  2. Opt for the best quality. Always choose collagen produced from certified grass-fed cows or sustainably sourced (non-GMO, wild-caught) fish.
  3. Avoid additives. Don’t accept any added flavors, dyes, or preservatives. Remember, this is going in your body, and you want it as pure and natural as possible!

At Natural Force, our Collagen Peptides are unflavored and made from 100% grass-fed happy cows. Nothing added, so you get the best results possible.

Are collagen peptides a part of your everyday wellness routine? We’d love to hear how you use them in the comments below!

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