People who want to improve their skin, hair, and joint health often take collagen supplements or add collagen powder to their morning tea, coffee, or smoothies.
Despite the rising popularity of collagen supplements and other collagen products, many people aren’t aware of what collagen is or how it works in the body.
This article will tell you all you need to know about collagen. It includes what it is and what it does for your body. And whether or not collagen supplements are worth the investment.
What is Collagen? Why Is It So Important?
Collagen is a protein type. It is the most abundant structural protein found in animals. It is a structural protein that forms the framework or structure of your cells and tissues.
There are 28 types of collagens known, with type I representing 90% of human collagen.
Collagen is mainly composed of the amino acid proline, glycine and hydroxyproline. These amino acids form three distinct strands that make up the triple-helix structure of collagen.
Collagen can be found in connective tissue and skin as well as tendons, bones, cartilage, and tendons. Collagen provides structural support for tissues and plays an important role in cellular processes:
- Tissue repair
- Immune response
- Cellular communication
- Cellular migration is a necessary process for maintaining tissue
Fibroblasts, connective tissue cells, produce and maintain collagen. As we age, our collagen becomes less dense and fibroblast function is impaired.
These changes and the loss of an important structural protein called Elasticin can lead to wrinkles and sagging skin.
Collagen is naturally produced by the body. You can get it from foods like chicken skin, fish skin, or supplements.
For treating wrinkles, loss in skin hydration and joint pain, both topical and oral collagen products such as face creams and supplements are very popular.
Collagen can be purchased in capsules, liquid, or powder form.
It can be taken as a supplement, or added to hot and cold beverages, as well as foods like oatmeal and yogurt.
The medical field also uses collagen and collagen-based materials by healthcare professionals.
Cosmetics companies also use collagen in serums and moisturizers due to its moisturizing properties.
SUMMARY- Collagen is naturally made by the body. Collagen can be found in connective tissue and skin. It also plays a number of important functions. Collagen can also be found in certain foods and as a supplement.
What Causes Collagen Deterioration?
Your collagen production naturally decreases with age. Furthermore, collagen becomes less cohesive and dispersed.
These changes can lead to wrinkles and sagging skin. As we age, the integrity of collagen in our skeletal system declines. This leads to a decrease in bone strength.
Although collagen loss and damage with age is inevitable, there are certain lifestyle and dietary factors that can help accelerate this process.
Smoking cigarettes has been shown to cause collagen degradation and skin wrinkles and loss of elasticity
Excessive consumption can also accelerate skin aging.
A diet high in sugar and processed foods can cause premature age. This is due to a process called “glycation” which decreases collagen turnover and impairs collagen’s ability interact with other cells.
Excessive sun exposure also degrades collagen production. Wearing sunscreen and avoiding excessive sunlight can help to prevent premature skin aging.
SUMMARY- Although age-related collagen loss is inevitable, lifestyle and dietary factors like smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can accelerate this process.
Best Food Sources of Collagen
Collagen can be found in all mammals, but it is concentrated in certain parts of the animal like skin and joints.
These are some examples of collagen-rich food:
- Bones, skin, ligaments, and other tissues of animals such as skin from chickens and pig knuckles, are all important.
- Certain types of seafood such as jellyfish and skin are not allowed, including fish skins.
- Products made from animal parts, such as bones and ligaments.
Your body produces collagen naturally from amino acids. You can help support collagen production by eating sufficient amounts of protein, such as poultry, fish, eggs, and beans.
Your body requires other nutrients to support collagen production and maintenance.
Vitamin C is essential for collagen synthesis. Low or deficient levels can result in impaired collagen production.
Consuming lots of vitamin-C-rich foods can support healthy collagen production. Try berries, citrus fruits, greens, and peppers.
Furthermore, a diet rich in beneficial plant compounds may help to improve skin health and reduce inflammation.
SUMMARY- Some foods are high in collagen, like animal skin and ligaments. Collagen-supportive diets should include both protein-rich foods and fruits and vegetables that are high in vitamin C and other anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds.
What Are the Benefits of Taking Collagen Supplements?
There are a few health benefits to taking collagen supplements, according to studies.
Potential Skin Benefits
Supporting skin health is one of the most common uses for collagen supplements. Some aspects of skin health and appearance may be improved by taking collagen supplements, according to research.
One review of 19 studies with 1,125 participants (all women), between 20 and 70 revealed that hydrolyzed collagen had a greater effect on skin hydration, elasticity and wrinkles than placebo treatments.
Hydrolyzed collagen, a type of collagen that is commonly used in supplements, is made using a process known as hydrolysis. This breaks down protein into smaller pieces that are easier to absorb.
Numerous studies have shown collagen supplements can improve skin hydration, elasticity, and reduce wrinkle appearance.
Keep in mind, however, that many of these studies were sponsored by companies that make collagen products. This could have affected the study results.
Research studies show that collagen can improve skin health at different doses. However, most studies used between 2.5 and 15 grams per day for at least 8 weeks.
Potential Benefits to Bones
Collagen supplements can offer many other benefits than improving skin appearance and health.
One study examined the effects of collagen supplements on 102 women in after menopause with reduced bone mineral density (BMD).
Participants who consumed 5 grams of collagen-peptides daily for 1-year experienced significant increases in BMD (bone mineral density) in their spine and femurs compared to those who received a placebo.
In a follow-up study, 31 of the women showed a progressive rise in BMD after taking 5 grams of collagen per day for 4- years.
Researchers found that participants’ BMDs increased by between 5.79 and 8.16% in the spine, and 1.23 to 4.211% in their femurs during the follow up period.
These results suggest that collagen supplements may be beneficial for people who have been through menopause and are more likely to develop osteoporosis or osteopenia.
Furthermore, one review found that oral collagen supplements reduce osteoarthritis symptoms, including stiffness.
Other health benefits may also be available from collagen supplements, such as improved body composition when combined with Resistance Training.
Important to note is that these positive effects of collagen were only observed in older women with low bone density.
Collagen supplements might not have the same effect in different populations such as men, younger people, and those with low bone mineral density.
Are There Any Side Effects to Collagen Supplements?
Collagen supplements are safe and do not cause side effects.
Manufacturers often add collagen to supplements. Some ingredients can pose health risks such as herbs or high levels of vitamins in supplements that are formulated to support hair, nails and skin health.
Some dietary supplements, such as herbal extracts, can interact with prescribed medications. Others are not safe for pregnant women or nursing mothers.
Additionally, supplements containing collagen could also contain huge amounts of nutrients such as biotin which can interfere with laboratory tests for thyroid function and heart health.
High doses of this and other vitamins or minerals can cause health problems.
Supplements that only contain collagen are unlikely to cause side effects. However, it is important to understand the risks and read labels for supplements that include collagen with other ingredients.
Before you begin taking supplements, be sure to consult your healthcare provider if you are taking any other medications, or if you are pregnant or nursing.
Collagen Supplements vs Protein
It is important to remember that collagen supplements and eating collagen are not required to help your body maintain its collagen levels.
You can actually help your body create collagen and maintain healthy collagen levels by eating enough high-quality Protein, Vitamin D and Vitamin C in your diet.
A balanced diet that includes a little more protein can help you maintain your bone and muscle mass as you age. Experts recommend that you consume more than 0.36g of protein per pound (0.8g per kilogram) for this purpose.
This can be supported by combining this protein-rich diet and physical activity.
SUMMARY- Collagen supplements can help to improve the skin and skeletal health and help with osteoarthritis symptoms. Although they are considered safe, some may contain ingredients that are not appropriate for all people.
How Can You Prevent Collagen Loss
Although it’s impossible for all age-related collagen to be prevented, it is possible to slow down this process.
Lifestyle and diet can have a significant impact on your body’s ability to produce collagen.
Excessive alcohol consumption and smoking cigarettes can negatively impact collagen production.
A healthy lifestyle that includes avoiding smoking, alcohol consumption and eating a nutritious diet may be able to delay the age-related changes in collagen. This will help reduce wrinkles and other signs of aging.
It is possible to reduce or avoid certain foods and drinks, while increasing your intake of other foods and beverages. This can help with collagen maintenance and skin health.
A diet low in compounds, advanced glycation products (AGEs), can help promote skin health. AGEs are skin toxins. They can cause collagen stiffening and inactivate proteins that are responsible for collagen repair.
According to older and newer research, processed meat products such as hot dogs and bacon are the most high-AGE foods.
A diet rich in high-quality protein and plant foods like fruits and vegetables that contain collagen-supportive or protective nutrients may help to protect collagen stores and prevent damage.
SUMMARY- A healthy lifestyle that includes avoiding smoking and drinking excessive alcohol can protect collagen from damage.
The Bottom Line
Collagen is found in connective tissue and skin, tendon, bone, cartilage, and cartilage.
It is responsible for providing structural support to tissues, and also plays an essential role in bodily processes such as tissue repair and signaling among cells.
The body naturally makes collagen, but collagen can also be obtained through supplements or certain foods. This may help to improve your skin and bone health.
Research shows that collagen is particularly beneficial for certain populations and purposes, such as increasing bone mineral density (BMD), in postmenopausal women with low BMD.
A balanced diet with enough Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Zinc is a healthier and more affordable alternative to taking supplements. Combining this with regular exercise can help reduce collagen and bone loss.
Although collagen loss can be inevitable with age, a healthy lifestyle can reduce the risk and delay the aging process.
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