When most people hear the word collagen, they automatically think of it as a skin care treatment, or being part of your joints and connective tissue. But did you know that it is also being called “the fountain of youth” and has much broader uses within the body? If you follow any health focused social media accounts, you have probably seen a lot of discussion about collagen and the health benefits it can provide.
From strengthening hair and nails, reducing bone and joint pain, helping heal leaky gut syndrome, and reducing the degeneration of bones…. it seems like there are very few things that its supporters do not claim it addresses. That is why collagen is making the rounds as one of this years hottest selling supplements.
So, what is all of this collagen buzz about? Let's take a few minutes to unpack the information and get to the truth about collagen.
What is collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body, making up three-fourths of the dry weight of the skin and one-third of the total protein in the body. Collagen helps make up tendons, ligaments, skin and muscles, among other things. You can think of collagen as the glue that holds the body together.
To date, 28 different types of collagen that have been identified, but you will mostly hear about the three to five types most commonly used in supplementation. Without getting too deep in the weeds, here is the scoop on each:
Type I - Is the most common form of collagen in the human body and is frequently recommended for hair, skin and nails. It is a major component of skin, tendons, bones and organs.
Type II - This is the main component of cartilage and is the type of collagen most commonly recommended to those who are looking for more healthy cartilage and joints.
Type III - Is commonly found in reticular fibers (think bone marrow) alongside Type I. It is for this reason that you rarely see Type III collagen sold in any form without Type I being a part of the formula.
Two important but less common types are Type V and Type X. They are, however, very important to key body functions. Type V collagen is a part of the process of forming cell membranes and tissue within a woman’s placentas. Type X is key to the formation of bones.
As mentioned, other types of collagen exist and scientists are working to unravel the mysteries surrounding each, to discover what additional benefits exist and how they work with each other.
Its almost impossible to find a supplement that only contains Type V or Type X, but some high quality brands will place these types alongside Types I, II, and III to create a very well rounded option for those seeking the full benefits of a collagen supplement.
What are the ways that collagen can be beneficial?
To prevent and help treat heart disease:
Collagen can be helpful in lowering cholesterol and preventing heart disease.
How? Collagen can help prevent the build-up of plaque in your blood vessels, therefore, protecting you from having a heart attack.
Reduce joint and knee pain:
Collagen can be helpful in relieving some of your ordinary aches and pains. It can act as a buffer between joints, therefore, helping to slow down bone degeneration in people, especially with arthritis.
Strengthen brittle fingernails:
Collagen can help to fortify your nails, which will then decrease the likelihood of them chipping, breaking, and peeling. It can also help improve the growth of your nails.
Help Leaky Gut Syndrome:
Have you had or heard of Leaky Gut Syndrome or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)? They are both conditions where the stomach and/or digestive tract become inflamed, due to toxins and nutrients leaking back into the blood stream. This can affect you by feeling bloated and tired, and by having diarrhea or constipation. Collagen can help with these digestive issues as well.
Improve skin tone and texture:
Who doesn't like great skin? Collagen is non-toxic and have high tensile strength, which makes it a great option to improve elasticity of skin. Many women use collagen to make themselves look and feel younger and, in fact, a number of studies have shown that supplementing with collagen can increase skin blood flow and moisture while reducing dryness and visible wrinkles.
To supplement or not?
Now, that was a lot of good news! The bad news? Unfortunately, as you age, you produce less collagen and that drop off in production continues the older you get. There is, however, a light at the end of the tunnel! You can supplement your body’s natural production of collagen.
There are many supplements available, and they are being used by a wide range of individuals for a variety of purposes. As a consumer, you need to understand that most of this collagen is not collagen derived in its native form.
You can see some supplements described as:
- Collagen hydrosylate
- Collagen powder
- Collagen peptides
- Hydrolysed collagen
Now the question is, should you buy a collagen supplement, or can you find it in the foods you normally eat? The question is not so cut and dry.
Collagen supplements are being sold in abundance, and honestly, you don’t need to break the bank when buying one. There are some very good collagen supplements that are high quality and quite affordable. You can also find it in healthy foods like bone broth. Broth is one of the richest sources of collagen and there are a multitude of recipes out on the internet for bone broth.
If you are looking for foods to add to your diet to help increase the amount of collagen in your body, here is a list of foods that can help:
- Leafy greens
- Wild Salmon
- Chia seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
It’s important to remember that the amount of collagen in your body is decreasing as you get older. These foods can help you produce more collagen on your own, but supplementing collagen is the only way to directly absorb it.
If you choose to add a collagen supplement to your diet, look for supplements that fit your specific needs. There are many varieties of collagen supplements. They can be made from grass-fed beef, chicken and/or wild caught fish. Some supplements are gluten free, NON-GMO, and made in the USA. Collagen is commonly sold as collagen powder, which is tasteless and odorless, allowing easy consumption by combining it with a variety of beverages or even foods. Some collagen has added flavoring so that may mean added sugars or unnatural ingredients.
Whatever your choice, do a little research to find which collagen supplement is right for you!
Consuming collagen is a win/win situation. It can help with digestion, heart disease, joint pain, and can help you to look younger, with glowing skin, lush hair, and strong nails.
Now that you’ve heard all of the healthy benefits of collagen, and how easy it is to consume, the ultimate question is - Why wouldn’t you start increasing your collagen consumption today?
If you are interested in supplementing your healthy lifestyle with collagen, take a look at our All-In-One Multi Collagen Protein powder containing 5 different types of collagen.