"Oh my god, it's gone!!" - me, after realizing my face was blemish-free after consuming Vital Proteins collagen for a month.

Let's rewind.

As someone who has probably tried every food trend out there (juice cleanses, vegan, vegetarian, IIFYM, paleo to name a few), I was fairly skeptical of this stuff. Vital Proteins has beautiful packaging, is all over Instagram and makes some pretty radical claims about the health benefits of their product. These are all red flags for an experienced foodie like myself.

I decided to try adding collagen into my diet every day, and the results were amazing. I'm calling this food "trend" a lifestyle, and hope that you can discover the benefits for yourself. But first, the facts.

So, What's Collagen Again?

Good question. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, and it supports the vitality of our hair, skin, nails, tendons, bones, cartilage and joints. When we do any strenuous activity like working out or dragging a way-too-heavy backpack around campus, the collagen that our body produces breaks down.

Naturally, you can find collagen in foods like bone broth, sustainably-sourced fish and other meats. If you don't regularly sip on bone broth or find sustainable meat at the dining hall (who does?), supplements are a good choice.

Why Should I Care?

Whether you're into good looks, athletic performance or general wellbeing, you really should care about collagen. Here's why:

Gut Health. Other protein powders like whey or soy can often be difficult to digest. I often used to get stomach aches and bloating after drinking whey protein shakes, and eventually stopped drinking them altogether. Collagen can actually help improve digestion and overall gut health because our digestive tracts are made of the same amino acids that are abundant in collagen.

Our stomach and gut linings can often become damaged because of toxins in our food and from food allergies or intolerances. Taking collagen peptides may help to heal the stomach and digestive lining (goodbye, stomach pain and bloating).

Joint, Bone & Muscle Health. Joint health isn't just for your great aunt! Researchers have found that collagen may promote cartilage, tendons and ligaments. This results in better overall health and increased mobility. Consuming collagen helps to restore and promote collagen production, which is essential to muscle and ligament health.

Read: collagen helps you be ready to carry that way-too-heavy backpack to class, recover from any injuries or make #gainz in the gym.

Skin Nourishment. Collagen is naturally a main ingredient in hour skin, hair and nails. Taking supplemental collagen helps to restore skin's moisture and improve its elasticity and vibrance. 

This is the benefit that most stuck out to me. Over the last two years, I had persistent acne that didn't go away by cutting out dairy, going on birth control or changing various face washes. When I began taking 1-2 scoops of Vital Proteins collagen a day, my acne cleared up within about a month.

This sounds like one of those corny infomercials, and I didn't want to believe it either - but when I ran out of my Vital Proteins, the blemishes came back. Once I restocked and started having about one scoop per day, I was back to clear skin. I'm hooked.

Vital Proteins Products

Although collagen can be found in other foods like bone broths or sustainably-sourced meats, it is usually fairly difficult to find it in high enough quantities to make a difference. Vital Proteins has rolled out a line of products with collagen sourced from pasture-raised cows in Brazil and New Zealand and wild-caught fish in Hawaii. 

These are all easy to incorporate into drinks or recipes and are an amazing way to get in daily protein recommendations. 

Collagen Peptides

milk, tea, coffee
Ashley Hackett

These grass-fed, pasture-raised collagen peptides are what got me hooked on Vital Proteins - it's a completely flavorless, fine powder that mixes into liquid instantly. With about 10 grams of protein per scoop, this stuff is packed with protein and nutrients. I have a scoop in my coffee every morning to add a little boost to my breakfast.

Vanilla & Coconut Water Flavored Collagen Peptides

honey, coffee, peanut butter, spread, jam, tea
Ashley Hackett

If a flavorless powder freaks you out, the Vanilla & Coconut Water flavored variety is the way to go. The ingredients are incredible, too - the flavoring comes just from organic coconut water and Madagascar Bourbon vanilla bean powder. Be careful, though - this doesn't mix into drinks as well as the original, so I usually blend it up in a smoothie.

Collagen Beauty Greens

Ashley Hackett

Greens + protein? I'm sold. The Collagen Beauty Greens are made with non-GMO Marine Collagen and include a ton of greens: wheat grass, spinach, alfalfa leaf and kale, to name a few. As a college student, I often have a hard time getting my veggies in. By blending a scoop of this into a smoothie with some fruit, I get a burst of collagen, probiotics and good-for-you greens.

The Beauty Greens mix well into a smoothie and have a pretty mild taste - it won't shock anyone used to green smoothies, but approach with caution if you're not a fan of 'green-tasting' drinks.

Collagen Veggie Blend (Coming Soon)

The Collagen Veggie Blend is a new product designed by Dr. Sarah Ballatyne (The Paleo Mom). By including tons of organic ingredients, the blend will provide 3 servings of veggies, 1 serving of fruit and 20 grams of protein per serving. This stuff will be magical.

According to Vital Proteins, it differs from the Beauty Greens in its texture and benefits. When blended into liquid, it's thicker than pressed juice, but not as thick as a smoothie (think Naked juice consistency). The Collagen Veggie Blend combines the benefits of collagen with nutrient- and fiber-rich fruits and veggies. As a college student, this will be a win for me so that I can make sure I can fit in all the fruits, veggies and protein I need.

Overall, I am a huge fan of collagen and of Vital Proteins. Anything that makes my skin glow and my hair shine while adding some much-needed protein is a winner, but I also love that VP is a very responsive and friendly company located so near to me (Chicago, IL).

My advice? Care for your health and yourself and add some collagen to your daily routine. You'll love the benefits.