What Is Collagen?
The human body is naturally rich in various types of collagen, a protein that is described as being extremely strong, tough, and insoluble and is often referred to as the body’s “glue” or “building block.” While the structure and function of collagen will differ depending on where it is found in the body, generally, collagen supports and protects the strength and structure of the skin, tissue, tendons, muscles, ligaments, bones, teeth, cartilage, organs, blood vessels, and corneas.
A third of the human body’s protein is comprised of collagen. In the skin’s thick dermis layer, collagen works to establish a complex system of cells, which allows the growth of new cells, thereby working to restore dead skin. This helps to stem bleeding, heal wounds, support the production of new blood vessels, and prevent the degeneration of bones that induces osteoporosis. Collagen works in tandem with the protein elastin, which maintains skin elasticity, and together they promote the skin’s supple appearance.
In early adulthood and with each passing year, bodies experience a breakdown in and a loss of collagen. The body is then unable to replenish it at the same capacity and this depletion results in, most noticeably, skin that looks dehydrated and wrinkled. Other health consequences caused by a decline in collagen include connective tissue that becomes inflexible, muscles that grow smaller and weaker, deteriorated cartilage that leads to joint pain, and the digestive tract lining growing thinner and causing gastrointestinal issues. Some factors that contribute to the early decline of collagen include poor diet, especially the consumption of refined carbohydrates and added sugars, cigarette smoke, overexposure to UV radiation, pollution, and some autoimmune disorders.
Why is collagen so popular? What are its benefits?
Collagen’s popularity as a component in cosmetic products, such as cleansers and moisturizers, may be attributable to the assertion that increasing the body’s collagen levels may rejuvenate the skin’s quality and appearance. There has also been anecdotal evidence that collagen supplements address skin conditions, such as acne. It is improbable that these results will become more widespread, especially because the large size of collagen particles makes it difficult for them to penetrate deep enough into the skin where collagen is actually produced, which means these topical benefits are more likely a result of a product’s hydrating properties.
Collagen’s popularity as a nutritive supplement is based in its reputed ability to improve muscle mass and function, to strengthen bones, hair, and nails, and to moderate joint pain. For collagen supplements, the normally large size of the collagen protein is reduced into peptides that are easily digested and absorbed into the bloodstream, and for this reason it is said that the body receives the supplement form more readily.
Some studies indicate that the consumption of collagen supplements over a period of several months can address rough or dry skin – among other signs of aging – leading to the appearance of a hydrated, healthy-looking complexion with improved elasticity. Still other studies indicate that collagen consumption can enhance bone density where it has deteriorated due to age, while also lessening pain in the joints and the back. Collagen supplements are also said to help reduce inflammation, weight, anxiety, and the chances of developing illnesses associated with poor heart health.
What’s The Best Way To Benefit From More Collagen?
1. Through Diet …
A diet that is abundant in these nutrients has the potential to help the body produce collagen naturally:
Some foods that contain this nutrient
Organ meats and red meats
Several other foods that contain protein
Leafy green vegetables
The bones and skin of marine, porcine, and bovine animals supply the greatest amount of collagen, though for the most part these go unconsumed. An alternative to these is bone broth, which may help the body produce more collagen, though it cannot guarantee any benefits to the skin.
- Through Supplements …
One of the most prevalent types of collagen is Hydrolyzed Collagen, also called Collagen Peptides. “Hydrolyzed” indicates that the collagen has undergone a process through which it has been reduced to smaller molecules, which facilitate easier digestion and absorption into the bloodstream.
Collagen peptides are in the form of a flavorless powder that dissolves easily, making it one of the most popular ingestible ways to get more collagen into the body. Collagen peptides do not congeal to form a gel, thus they can be effortlessly combined with drinks and foods, including water, coffee, smoothies, soups, sauces, and baked goods – without altering the texture of the food, drink, or collagen.
Where Do Collagen Supplements Come From?
Collagen is found only in animals’ skins, hides, bones, connective tissue, horns, hooves, and scales, and collagen supplements are largely derived from these parts of cows, pigs, horses, fish, or rabbits.
Because plants do not produce the protein collagen, vegan collagen supplement are not available; however, plant nutrients are still able to offer a foundation that is required for the body to potentially produce its own natural collagen.
Before taking collagen supplements, consider whether it is necessary, as a relationship with them could last a lifetime if the preferred outcome is enduring results. It is important to note that taking collagen supplements does not guarantee improved skin quality.
Collagen is generally known to be harmless; however, if the consumer is allergic to the animal, any part of the animal, or a byproduct of the animal from which the supplement is sourced, this could result in an allergic reaction. To prevent any side effects, it is recommended that the collagen be tested on a small area of insensitive skin.
When shopping for the right collagen supplement, prioritize those that are high quality, cruelty- and contaminant-free, and from a reputable brand – preferably one that indicates their supplement has passed a third-party health risk test.
Collagen supplement doses can vary from brand to brand, thus it is imperative to follow the correct dosage for the specific supplement. It can take approximately 3 months to notice the results of collagen consumption.