Collagen is a nourishing food that supports the gut, the joints, and yes – even the thyroid. Here’s how supplementing with collagen can help you fight thyroid disorders.
Your thyroid is so important for your overall health, but unfortunately, it’s prone to all kinds of problems. More than 12% of the general U.S. population will have a thyroid disorder at some point, and women have a much higher chance of falling into that group. (1)
Collagen is one of the most popular supplements these days, and for good reason – we know it can help nourish the gut, improve joints, and hydrate your skin. However, did you know it can help the thyroid too?
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While collagen might not be a magic cure-all, adding it to your supplement lineup is a great way to start supporting your thyroid. Here’s how it works.
What Is Collagen and How Does It Work?
Collagen is the most abundant protein found in the human body. It’s required for healthy skin and connective tissue, organs, muscles, and even blood clotting. (2) In essence, collagen is super important because it provides strength and structure to the body.
Your body makes its own collagen, but due to aging, chronic disorders, and genetics, levels can drop over time.
As collagen levels decline, structures throughout the body can weaken. These changes are often noticeable on your body when you develop: (3, 4)
- Sagging, wrinkled skin
- Weakened cartilage
- Decreased muscle mass
- Loss of flexibility in joints
Thyroid and Collagen: What’s the Connection?
When collagen levels are not at their peak, your thyroid health can suffer. However, the link is more indirect – and it’s through your gut.
Both thyroid hormones and collagen work to support a healthy intestinal lining. When one becomes compromised, it leaves the other open to problems.
Here’s how it works: The thyroid makes two hormones: T3 and T4. These hormones play many roles, and one of them is helping to maintain cellular integrity of desmosomes – cells that line the small intestine and keep the barrier strong. When thyroid hormone levels are not ideal, the lining of the small intestine can become compromised, opening up a risk for autoimmunity problems, like Hashimoto’s. (5, 6) When this happens, it’s extra important for collagen to help strengthen the barrier of the intestines to restore gut health.
Can Collagen Help With Thyroid Disorders?
Once you have thyroid and gut problems, correcting them can be a cumbersome process.
A great first step for addressing a thyroid disorder is to get more collagen in your diet. Collagen will help improve the gut barrier, which in turn can help ease Hashimoto’s, Graves’, or other thyroid issues. The bottom line here is this: When the gut barrier is compromised, immune problems worsen.
Collagen, Thyroid, and the Process of Healing
When you find out about a thyroid problem, your doctor will often prescribe thyroid replacement hormone. This is an important part of the healing process, as righting your hormone levels can lessen further intestinal damage. (7) However, it’s also important to repair the damage that’s already been done. This is where collagen comes in.
While there have been no studies specifically examining collagen and its ability to repair the intestinal lining, there is ample research showing that collagen can repair the skin’s surface, improve its barrier function and integrity, and repair the structural matrix. (8, 9) Since the cells that make up the skin are epithelial, and are very similar to the cells of the intestines, there’s a good chance that collagen can help improve the gut lining.
Additionally, animal studies find that collagen can help to stabilize glucose levels in the body. (10) This is important because thyroid disorders can lead to problems with insulin sensitivity, increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes. (11)
Thyroid disorders are almost never simple and attributed to a single cause. But when collagen levels are not optimal, and the gut barrier is compromised, the thyroid and the entire immune system are open to potential complications.
Natural Sources of Collagen
You can obtain collagen from your diet or from supplements. You can even eat foods that will help your body make more collagen on its own, as they provide nutrients that serve as precursors to collagen.
The best natural sources of collagen are:
- Bone broth
- Organ meats
- Chicken (including the skin)
- Fish and shellfish
- Egg whites
Foods help to boost your body’s ability to synthesize its own collagen include:
- Leafy greens
- Citrus fruits
- Pumpkin seeds
Supplementing With Collagen
Aside from eating more collagen-rich foods, you can also supplement with collagen peptides to ensure that you’re getting enough. There are a few different sources, with beef and marine collagen the most common forms. The nutritional benefits are the same, but marine collagen can be friendlier for vegetarian or pescatarian options.
One of the best reasons to supplement with collagen is because you know exactly how much you’re getting. If you’re taking collagen specifically to heal the gut or your thyroid, it’s important to be sure you’re getting enough each day. Follow the serving size on the product you’re taking or whatever your healthcare provider has advised.
Plus, supplementing with collagen comes with a set of pleasant side effects. You can look forward to better skin and joint health, thicker hair, and even better bone density. (12, 13, 14, 15, 16)
How to Supplement With Collagen
It’s easy to add more collagen to your diet. Since collagen peptides are tasteless and they dissolve in liquids, it’s great to sneak it into coffee, smoothies, lemonades, or any of your other favorite drinks. You can also mix it into the batter of baked goods or stir some into applesauce. If you’re not a fan of the powder for whatever reason, collagen is also available in capsule form.
Here are a few of our favorite gut-healing collagen recipes:
- Salted Caramel Ice Cream with Healing Collagen
- Homemade Collagen Marshmallows
- Lemon Curd with Collagen Peptides
- Pumpkin Custard
It’s safe to take collagen daily and to eat foods that contain collagen on a regular basis, but it’s important to follow recommended serving sizes on collagen products. As always, remember to check with your doctor before starting new supplements or making any major dietary changes. If you are looking for Paleo-friendly, high-quality collagen powder, we recommend Bright Naturals Grass-Fed Collagen.
The Bottom Line
The thyroid is a powerful hormone-producing gland that also supports gut health, metabolism, weight, and energy levels. Collagen is a great supplement to use when you have thyroid disorders, as it works to defend your body against autoimmune-driven attacks. It can also help to heal the gut after damage to the lining, supporting a healing plan for finding balance from thyroid disorders, including Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.