Collagen 101: Everything You Need to Know
What is collagen? And why is everyone talking about it?
Collagen is a protein. It provides structural support for your body, including bones, blood vessels, skin, joints, and teeth.
Without it, your body would stop working, it's the glue that keeps it together.
In recent years, collagen has gained popularity and it's all you hear about.
The question is, do collagen supplements work? Do they really have all the benefits people claim they do?
How can you make sure you have enough collagen in your body regardless of age?
Let’s have a look at collagen and collagen supplements so that you can make an informed decision.
WHY IS COLLAGEN IMPORTANT?
Collagen is the glue holding the human body together. In fact, the name collagen is formed from two Greek words–kolla "glue" and gen "producing".
As the most abundant protein, collagen accounts for about one-third of all proteins in the human body.
Although there are many types of collagen, four perform most of the structural support. The table below provides an overview of these four types of collagen.
|TYPE I||TYPE II||TYPE III||TYPE IV|
|About 90% of all collagen provides structure to bones, tendons, teeth, fibrous cartilage, connective tissues, and skin||Loosely packed to offer structural support to cartilage cushioning joints||Supports the structure of blood vessels, organs, and muscles||Supports filtration and is located in the skin layers|
Without collagen, your:
- Bones would begin to weaken and cause conditions such as osteoporosis.
- Teeth would lose their integrity and also start to weaken because there is less material hold them to the skull.
- Bones weaken, leading to conditions such as osteoporosis
- Teeth start falling out because there is little material holding them to the skull
- Hair loses its luster and strength, becoming weak and brittle
- The skin dries up, has wrinkles, and loses its youthful suppleness
- Muscles degenerate as the connective tissues weaken and sag
WHAT AFFECTS COLLAGEN PRODUCTION IN THE BODY?
- Prolonged Sun Exposure
- Chronic Stress
- Autoimmune Disorders
Aging reduces the amount and quality of collagen. After the 25th year of life, the body’s ability to make the needed amount and quality reduces by 1.5% annually.
Smoking deprives the body of collagen-producing nutrients in addition to creating molecules that damage its quality.
High-sugar diets facilitate the production of substances that lodge in collagen production and deposition areas, leading to low-quality collagen.
Prolonged sun exposure enhances photoaging, which lowers the quantity and quality of collagen.
Chronic stress increases the amount of cortisol, which reduces the body’s ability to produce enough and high-quality collagen.
Autoimmune disorders can also produce antibodies that destroy collagen.
HOW TO BOOST YOUR COLLAGEN PRODUCTION
TIP 1: A HEALTHY DIET
The collagen production process starts with two amino acids—glycine and proline, and in the presence of vitamin C. Therefore, consuming adequate amounts of these nutrients is vital in helping the body produce collagen.
- Vitamin C: Found in large amounts in citrus fruits and strawberries
- Glycine: Found in adequate quantities in chicken and pork skin, protein-containing foods, and gelatin
- Proline: Found in abundance in egg whites, dairy products, mushrooms, cabbage, and wheat germ
TIP 2: USE COLLAGEN SUPPLEMENTS TO YOUR BENEFIT
In recent years, collagen supplements have gained popularity, especially in the sports and beauty industries, because they help the body produce collagen and mitigate the effects of collagen deficiency.
However, the effectiveness depends on how collagen is consumed.
For example, collagen molecules are too big to be delivered through the skin. As such, collagen-based creams may not be as effective as expected.
However, convincing research indicates that collagen oral supplements are effective and offer numerous benefits, such as:
HEALTHY AND STRONG SKIN
One of the most noticeable benefits of collagen supplements is improving skin elasticity and hydration.
For example, in 11 studies investigating the effects of collagen supplements on skin health, researchers found oral intake of collagen improves skin elasticity, hydration, and strength.
The review also showed better wound healing and reduced skin aging.
IMPROVED JOINT HEALTH
Collagen provides structural support to the joints. Therefore, collagen is vital for athletes and those with joint issues.
In a 24-week study investigating the effect of collagen supplements on young athletes with joint pain when at rest, walking, lifting, and carrying things, some participants took 10 g of collagen supplements, and others consumed placebos.
Results indicated that those taking the supplement had significantly lower joint pain than the placebo group.
Therefore, supplementing with collagen peptides can boost joint health and prevent joint diseases.
SUPPORTED MUSCLE MASS
About 30% of all proteins in the body are in the form of collagen. Therefore, it plays a vital role in developing muscle mass and muscular performance.
For this reason, combining collagen supplements with resistance or strength training has become profoundly popular.
For example, a 12-week research study involved men with age-induced loss of skeletal strength and muscle mass or sarcopenia.
The results showed that participants supplementing with 15 g per day collagen peptides in addition to resistance training had better fat-free mass, bone mass, quadriceps strength, and sensory-motor control compared to the placebo group.
Hence, collagen supplements can boost muscle health and performance.
IMPROVED BONE HEALTH
Collagen gives bones structure and strength. As you age, collagen and bone mass become less, leading to conditions like osteoporosis, which increase the risk of bone fractures.
However, research indicates that collagen supplements can reduce bone breakdown and lower the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures.
For example, a 3-month study on post-menopausal women taking 5 g daily of calcium-collagen chelate (CC) supplement found that CC reduced bone loss compared to the placebo group.
The researchers concluded that collagen supplements enhance bone formation and lower bone loss.
Therefore, you should consider taking collagen supplements to boost your bone health.
Collagen provides structure to blood vessels, such as the arteries.
As you age, though, the quality and quantity of collagen drop. Consequently, arteries become less flexible and elastic.
In addition, cholesterol causes the blood vessels to harden, leading to a health problem condition called atherosclerosis.
Of importance is that many people with atherosclerosis don’t know they have the condition until it’s severe enough to cause heart attack or failure.
Therefore, preventing the condition is of utmost importance, which is where collagen supplements come in.
In a 6-month study involving healthy individuals, participants took 8 g twice daily (for a total intake of 16 g daily).
After six months, the researchers reported an increase in good cholesterol (which helps remove excess cholesterol from cells, including those in the arteries), reduced levels of toxic end-products, and improved elasticity of blood vessels.
Hence, collagen supplements can support heart health.
THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING COLLAGEN SUPPLEMENTS
You can find Collagen in many different forms, but the best way to get your bang for your buck is to stick with powdered Collagen supplements.
They offer more Collagen per serving than gummies, capsules, and ready to drink beverages.
And when it comes to Collagen topicals, like lotions, oils, etc...they're a gimmick.
Remember this, Collagen needs to be ingested to reap the benefits.
When it comes to flavor...to each their own.
Unflavored, chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, etc. etc. etc. - you can find it all.
PRO TIP: Stick with unflavored Collagen - you can add it to anything.
Collagen supplements have saturated the marketplace!
When searching for a collagen supplement, find an animal-based product that states where the collagen has been sourced from.
For example, ATH's Collagen is sourced from 100% grass-fed, pasture-raised bovine from Brazil.
If you're Collagen supplement hides its sourcing, run the other way.
Collagen is one of the most abundant proteins in our body that works as the "glue" to keep our bodies together and functioning.
You can thank collagen for:
- Improved Joint Health
- Strong Hair, Skin, and Nails
- Healthy Muscle Mass
- Stronger Heart Functions
As we age, our body's natural production of collagen begins to slow - - this is where collagen supplements come in.
Taking a collagen supplement, like a powder, will help aid in body's natural production to keep you feeling your best!
Not sure how to use Collagen? It's simple, add it to anything...literally.
A fan favorite is to add 1 scoop of unflavored collagen to your morning coffee.
Check out some of our favorite collagen recipes below: