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What's the Big Deal About Collagen?

  blog post author icon   blog post published date icon   05/17/21

Supplements  

You have probably heard of collagen and the hype surrounding it. From putting it in smoothies to having collagen injections to improve your looks, collagen is having a moment.

The collagen market is set to be worth $6 billion by 2026. So what's all the hype about?

What are the benefits of collagen? Can you get it from your diet? Or do you need to take supplements?

We are here to break down the answers to these questions and more. Keep reading to find out all there is to know about collagen!

What Is Collagen?

Collagen is a protein found in the cells of your body. It isn't just any protein; it's the most abundant protein in your body.

Your skin is 75% collagen. Your connective tissues, muscles, skin, bones, teeth, eyes, and even digestive system all contain collagen. Even the discs between your vertebra contain collagen. 

As well as its abundance in your skin and bones, collagen helps to encase and protect your organs. Its fibrous and strong structure helps protect your bones.

The collagen in your body is 80-90% type I, II, and III, even though there are at least 16 different types of collagen.

Why Do We Need Collagen?

We need collagen to stay healthy. The health of our skin and bones depends on collagen production.

Our bodies break down the proteins from the foods we eat to create amino acids which produce collagen. If you eat a protein-rich diet, it can help maintain a healthy level of collagen production.

Unfortunately, as we age, our bodies produce less collagen. The regeneration of our tissues starts to slow down. As early as our mid-twenties, our collagen production declines.

The fibers of collagen become looser as we grow older. This causes the elasticity of our skin to decrease and is what causes wrinkles and sagging.

What Causes Collagen Reduction?

You may be wondering if there is a way you can stop the slowing of collagen production. It is almost entirely dependent on your genetics. Different people will slow down their collagen production at different ages.

There are, however, a few lifestyle factors that could contribute to a decline in collagen production. These include but aren't limited to:

  • Smoking 
  • Stress
  • Excessive sun exposure
  • A poor diet

So if you cut out the processed, sugary foods, cigarettes, and sunbeds, you may have more chance to slow down the aging process.

What Are the Benefits Of Collagen?

Another way we can increase our body's production of collagen could be through collagen supplements. You can take a collagen supplement as a liquid, powder, or tablet.

Here are some of the benefits you may get if you add collagen to your regular diet.

1. Could Help Reduce Aches and Pains

The cartilage that your joints are made from is primarily made from collagen.

Trying to exercise when you have stiff joints is never fun. Exercise doesn't get easier as we get older, as our joints become less mobile. Collagen supplements may help improve the function of our joints as we age.

This activity-related study of athletes with knee pain suggests that their pain reduced after 12 weeks of collagen supplementation. There have been many other studies that point to the conclusion that collagen can help to keep our joints healthy.

2. Can Keep Bones Healthy

Our bones become more brittle as we age, which can lead to diseases such as osteoporosis. Brittle bones also increase our chance of broken bones.

Supplements of collagen could potentially increase your bone density and stop you from developing brittle bones. Women are more susceptible to osteoporosis due to their decrease in estrogen following menopause.

There is some research that suggests collagen supplementing can improve bone density, especially in women. However, there has not been enough research done on this yet for it to be conclusive.

3. Great For Skin

Collagen helps maintain the elasticity in the skin as we age. The promise of younger-looking skin is one of the main reasons people take collagen supplements.

The link between skin health and collagen has the most research behind it. However, this doesn't mean that all studies are conclusive.

This dermatology study from the department of dermatology at the University of California found that those taking a collagen supplement saw an improvement in the elasticity of their skin versus those who took a placebo.

Collagen can improve the hydration of the skin and thus reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. Taking collagen supplements can potentially help to boost your body's natural ability to produce collagen.

4. Can Aid With Wound Healing and Repair

It is possible that collagen supplements can help speed up the process of wound healing.

There have been several studies conducted on people with severe burns and their healing process. Some studies show that those who take a collagen supplement can heal significantly faster than those who don't.

5. Can Improve Muscle Mass

Our muscles also lose density as we age. Collagen makes up a significant percentage of our muscles, another reason why our muscles start to deteriorate.

It could be possible, though, that muscle mass can be improved by taking a collagen supplement. Combined with regular strength training exercise, collagen can potentially help to build muscle.

6. May Stop Hair Loss

One of the potential benefits of collagen for men is that it can help to inhibit hair loss. Men tend to lose their hair more rapidly than women, so taking a supplement could help slow this process.

Collagen can potentially help your hair grow thicker and longer. It can help regenerate the hair follicles and prevent premature hair loss.

7. Could Improve Heart Health

There is some evidence to suggest that collagen can stop your arteries from becoming weak. This helps to maintain a healthy heart and could potentially protect you from heart illnesses in the future.

8. Can Positively Influence Gut Health

Collagen can also positively impact an inflamed gut. Your digestive tract has collagen in the connective tissue around it. If you have problems with your digestion, collagen supplementation could help improve it.

Which Foods Contain Collagen?

As well as supplementing collagen, it is possible to get collagen from your diet.

Collagen is found in the skin of animals; foods such as fish, chicken, and pork have a high concentration of collagen.

Bone broth is also another commonly touted dietary source of collagen. The broth is made from boiling the bones of animals. As bones are rich in collagen, the broth is thought to have plenty of amino acids and collagen-boosting properties.

Foods rich in vitamin C and vitamin A are also crucial to the healthy production of collagen. This includes sweet potatoes, citrus fruits, tomatoes, peppers, and leafy green vegetables like kale.

Berries are another excellent source of vitamin C and are full of anti-oxidants. Free radicals can damage your skin; antioxidants can help protect you from these free radicals. Green tea and cinnamon are also potent antioxidants.

Zinc (present in dairy, shellfish, and lentils) and copper (found in sesame and lentils and cashews) are the other essential nutrients that play a role in collagen production.

With the right combination of nutrients in your diet, you can help optimize the production of collagen in your system.

Myths About Collagen

It would be silly to believe that a collagen supplement can help you lose weight. Losing weight is all about overall lifestyle changes, not about simply taking a supplement.

Remember to always talk to your doctor before starting a supplement regime. 

Skincare that claims to contain collagen is another contentious topic. There isn't any conclusive evidence to show that applying collagen topically can help improve your skin.

Collagen skincare can be expensive. If there's no proof it is effective; you are better off improving your diet to boost collagen production. What you put in your body has far more impact than what you put on it!

Collagen Health Benefits

As you have discovered, collagen is a big deal for a reason! It's essential to so many of our body's functions and is crucial to stay looking youthful for as long as possible.

The benefits of collagen are not only for your external appearance; it can help your body function more optimally.

If you start taking a collagen supplement, combine it with eating a healthy, balanced diet, as well as doing regular exercise. Combining supplements with a healthy lifestyle will enable you to get the best results.

Feel like a collagen supplement could benefit your life? Check out our range of collagen supplements here.


headshot of Jay Todtenbier 2018
Author

Jay Todtenbier is an original founder of SupplementRelief.com in 2010 and has operated the business ever since. He is also a tennis instructor and gospel musician. Formerly he spent 25 years in business development, technology and marketing with startups and major corporations having gone through the tech boom in Silicon Valley in the 90s. He became passionate about, and began studying and practicing Wellness as a Lifestyle after experiencing chronic, personal health challenges including depression, auto-immune disorders, and being overweight that impacted his ability to live a healthy, vibrant life. Since then, he has been an advocate for healthier living encouraging others to live better through making small, gradual changes to lifestyle behaviors relating to whole-foods nutrition, stress management, reasonable exercise, proper sleep, and the use of targeted, high-quality supplements.

Learn more about Jay Todtenbier.

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