We have often heard about collagen, mostly in skincare products that boost up our skin. However, we have little or minute insight into what is collagen and what it does?
Collagen is the most copious protein in your body. Collagen is a major component of connective tissues that make up several body parts, including tendons, ligaments, skin, and muscles.
It is beneficial in providing many functions like providing your skin with structure and strengthening your bones.
With time collagen supplement has spread its popularity massively. They are mostly hydrolyzed which is collagen has been broken down making its absorption capacity significant.
Food sources are also enriched with collagen but mostly animal sources making it hard for vegetarians to get a natural supply of collagen. Foods like pork skin and bone broth are known to amplify the collagen supply in your body.
Collagen is not only restricted to promote your healthy skin but is also beneficial in relieving joint pain and building muscle mass.
This article will provide you an in-depth insight into the health benefits of taking collagen.
1. Can improve skin health
Collagen is known for the wonders it does to the skin, the collagen supplements help to slow down the aging process of your skin. It strengthens your skin, benefits elasticity, and hydration, and reduces the sign of aging taking care of wrinkles and dryness.
With age, our skin starts producing less collagen which results in dry skin and wrinkles. Collagen peptides or supplements containing collagen may increase the elasticity of your skin.
Some studies revealed women who took a supplement containing 2.5–5 grams of collagen for 8 weeks had a significant effect on the skin, such as they experienced less skin dryness and an increase in skin elasticity compared with those who did not take the supplement. It was also found out that that woman who drank a beverage mixed with a collagen supplement daily for 12 weeks experienced increased skin hydration and a significant reduction in wrinkles.
Collagen supplement might aid in promoting the production of protein which helps to structure your skin, including elastin and fibrillin. There are some uncertain anecdotal claims that collagen supplements are also effective for acne treatment and other skin issues. Your body can produce wrinkle-reducing collagen on its own as the supplements help to stimulate and help to produce the collagen.
2. Helps relieve joint pain
It is surprising how collagen supplements not only do wonder with our skin but has so many other amazing benefits for our body. Consuming collagen supplements reduces inflammation and stimulates collagen synthesis in the body. People diagnosed with a joint disorder like osteoarthritis can get benefits from collagen supplements as it provides relief.
The collagen functions by maintain the integrity of your cartilage, a rubber-like tissue that protects your joints. Age decreases the amount of collagen produced in our body developing the risks of degenerative joint disorders such as osteoarthritis. As per some studies, collagen improves the symptoms and reduces the joint pain of osteoarthritis.
According to some research, it is assumed that supplemental collagen may accumulate in cartilage and stimulate your tissues to make collagen suggesting lower inflammation, better support of your joints, and reduced pain.
Some studies revealed that 73 athletes consumed 10 grams of collagen daily for 24 weeks and experienced a significant decrease in joint pain while walking and at rest. Other research indicates, adults 70 days consumed 2 grams of collagen daily. Consuming collagen improved physical activities and reduced joint pain.
A dose of 8-12 grams is sufficient, to begin with, the supplement for potential pain-relieving purposes.
3. Could prevent bone loss
Bones are built up mostly of collagen. Collagen provides the structure that is required by the bones making them strong. It reduces the risk of bone disorders such as osteoporosis which increases the BMD lowering the levels of proteins in the blood that cause a bone breakdown.
What is BMD? BMD measures the density of minerals like calcium present in your bones. A low level of BMD indicates weak bones and getting diagnosed with osteoporosis.
Consuming collagen supplements hinders the bone breakage that results in osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is characterized by low bone density which is connected to a higher risk of bone fractures. Your age defines how your body will function. Therefore, with age, the collagen present in your body deteriorates and so does bone mass which can result in osteoporosis.
Researchers have delivered how women who consumed 5grams of collagen combined with calcium or a calcium supplement and the other no collagen daily for 12 months had drastic differences. Women consuming collagen combined with calcium reflected low blood level of proteins that reduces the risk of bone breakage than the women who only took calcium.
Some studies revealed 66 women who consumed 5 grams of collagen every day for 12 months reflected a 7% increase in their bone mineral density (BMD) as compared to other women with no collagen intake.
4. Could boost muscle mass
Collagen supplement is proven to be beneficial in building muscle growth and strength in people with age-related muscle mass loss as 1-10% of muscle tissue is composed of collagen. Our body requires protein to maintain the strength of our muscles and their function properly.
People affected with sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass because of age), get benefitted the most from collagen supplements. According to a study conducted on 27 frail men concluded 12 weeks of exercise program were able to boost muscle mass and strength by consuming 15 grams of collagen compared to those who only exercised.
It is also believed to promote the synthesis of muscle proteins like creatine, as well as stimulate muscle growth after exercise.
5. Promotes heart health
According to some studies, collagen supplement is proven to help in reducing the risks of heart-related conditions. Collagen has the potential to give structures to your arteries that is a blood vessel that functions to carry blood from heart to the rest of the body. If your body lacks collagen then your arteries might turn out to be weak, leading to a disease called atherosclerosis caused by the narrowing of arteries. It can result in a heart attack or stroke.
A report revealed 31 healthy individuals consumed 16 grams of collagen every day for 6 months and experienced a drastic reduction in artery stiffness compared to when they did not consume collagen daily. HDL is a vital part of heart conditions. Collagen increased the levels of HDL which is good cholesterol by an average of 6%.
6. Other health benefits
Collagen supplements can be beneficial for various health issues. Though not much researched some benefits include:
- Hair and nails. If you consume collagen daily, then you may stop worrying about your hair and nails not growing properly. Collagen stimulates the hair and nails increasing their strength and helping them grow.
- Gut health. Some practitioners may find collagen effective for the treatment of intestinal permeability, or leaky gut syndrome. Although these claims are uncertain and still under research.
- Brain health. There are claims of collagen to be effective in improving your mood and reduce anxiety symptoms. However, the claims lack evidence, and the role of collagen in brain health is uncertain.
- Weight loss. No studies justify the assumption of consuming collagen supplements for weight loss and faster metabolism.
These effects are enticing; however, it lacks evidence and cannot be promising.
Foods that contain collagen!
Where do we get collagen?
Collagen is present in the connective tissues of the animal. Therefore, the best way to get your source of collagen is from foods like chicken skin, pork skin, beef, and fish are sources of collagen. Food like bone broth also provides collagen as it contains gelatin which is a protein substance derived from cooking collagen.
Digestive enzymes break down the collagen in food into individual amino acids and peptides.
However, when we take collagen supplements the absorptions capacity increases as it has been already broken down or hydrolyzed.
Collagen side effects
There is no side effect allied with the consumption of collagen supplements at present. However, there are supplements made from the source of food allergens, such as fish, shellfish, and eggs. Avoiding collagen supplements for the prevention of any allergic reactions is the best idea if you have any sort of allergies to these foods.
There are chances of people having side effects like lingering bad taste in their mouth, heartburn, and fullness.
To avoid allergic reactions, ensure to get your hands on only those supplements that do not contain the collagen source you are allergic to. Apart from these collagen supplements are safe and effective to use for most people.
Pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid the consumption of collagen as the research is still in progression. So, to avoid any complications it is best not to use it.
Things that damage collagen
With all the benefits, it is necessary to avoid behaviors that destroy collagen:
- Eating too much sugar and refined carbs. If you do not want to harm the production level of collagen then minimizing sugar is the best solution. As sugar interferes with collagen’s ability to repair itself.
- Getting too much sunshine. Excessive UV rays are harmful. Avoiding too much sun exposure should be kept in mind. Ultraviolet radiation may reduce your natural collagen production.
- Smoking. Smoking is injurious to health. Therefore, smoking can damage the process of wound healing leading to wrinkles. Smoking reduces collagen production.
- Some autoimmune disorders, such as lupus, can also damage collagen
How to use supplement?
Collagen peptide comes in a powder that can be easily incorporated into foods.
The peptide form doesn’t gel, so you can mix it into smoothies, soups, or baked goods without affecting their texture.
You can use gelatin to make homemade Jell-O or gummies.
When considering supplements, you should look for a high-quality source. Marine collagen, which is made from fish skin, is also available.
The effects of collagen supplements continue to be researched and debated. Instead of buying these supplements, you can always help your body make more collagen naturally by ensuring your diet is packed with healthy foods.
To produce collagen, your body puts the amino acids glycine and proline together with other amino acids including vitamin C, zinc, and copper. You can help your body produce more collagen by eating lots of glycine’s- and proline-rich foods like chicken, beef, fish, dairy, eggs, and beans. For Vitamin C, Zinc, and copper, you should also be sure to eat foods like citrus fruits, tomatoes, leafy greens, shellfish, nuts, and whole grains.
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