You may have noticed an influx of collagen supplements, drinks, & products along the aisles of your grocery store. Collagen powders have been showing up in the beauty supply aisle, and collagen infused beverages are being sold at your local coffee shop.
As with any new wellness trend, it is important to be informed about the benefits of it, and if it is a good fit for your health and wellness goals.
Today, let’s explore what exactly collagen is, how it can help you, and what the best sources of collagen are for you.
What is collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein found in your body. It accounts for about ⅓ of the protein you have. There are 28 different types of collagen that are all tasked with different roles, however there are four main types that are most supportive to your body’s function.
Collagen is essentially the glue that holds things together in your body. It is the building blocks for your bones, skin, muscles, tendons, & ligaments. Type I collagen accounts for about 90% of the collagen found in your body which provides structure to your skin, bones, cartilage, tissues, & even your teeth!
As you age, your body’s ability to produce high quality collagen decreases. This is why old age is accompanied with wrinkles, less firm skin, & increased joint health issues. The collagen production isn’t as strong or frequent as it was in the past, and with that, the parts of the body that use collagen tend to degrade.
How can collagen help you?
Collagen is an essential protein that is needed for your body to operate at peak performance. Your body naturally produces collagen on its own by utilizing specific amino acids found in your diet. While collagen is needed for well rounded health, having an increase of collagen has been found to help with the following areas:
Collagen has been found it improve muscle mass. A study conducted showed that men who were given a collagen supplement acquired more muscle mass over a 12 weeks period of time than men who were given its placebo.
Increased collagen consumption has also been found to help with symptoms of osteoarthritis. A study conducted using animals suggested that daily consumption of collagen can protect against cartilage loss and stimulate the production of proteins in injured joints.
Perhaps collagen’s most popularized benefit is helping with skin elasticity. A study showed that women who took collagen supplements had improvement in skin elasticity over time, in addition to minimizing fine lines and wrinkles.
If you are looking for solutions to increase muscle mass, help with symptoms of osteoarthritis, or improve your overall skin elasticity, adding more collagen into your diet would be a great option to reach those goals.
Sources of collagen
You may already be consuming natural forms of collagen found in different animal products and vegetables.
Collagen is created in your body using mainly 2 amino acids – glycine and proline. It also uses Vitamin C in it’s production. Eating foods that are high in these amino acids & vitamins would help increase the natural production of collagen in your body.
Collagen is found in the connective tissues of animal foods & animal skins. Eating chicken or fish with the skin on is a great way to boost collagen naturally in your diet. Bone broth is another way to add more collagen in your diet, as it is typically made with connective tissues of animals.
If you are looking for vegetarian sources of these amino acids, they can be found in eggs, dairy products, lentils, cashews, cabbage, & asparagus.
Another way to increase collagen in your body would be to take a collagen supplement. Supplementation can be a good way to get the additional nutrients without having to make large dietary changes.
Collagen vs Protein Powder
You might be wondering, if collagen is a protein, can I just use regular protein powder to boost my collagen production?
Protein powder and collagen supplements have different goals, and are formatted as such.
A protein powder typically includes all essential and non essential amino acids with the goal of providing a large quantity of protein. This would be best if you are consuming a diet that is low in protein, or looking to build overall muscle mass.
Collagen supplements are designed specifically to increase collagen production in your body, utilizing the few amino acids that are used in collagen production. A collagen supplement would be a good choice if you are looking to improve skin elasticity or help with joint conditions.
Here is our recommendation –