Collagen supplements are becoming increasingly popular. Are you confused by them? You may be wondering whether or not this is something your body needs, or if these types of supplements even work. This post will help you decide if it’s right for you.
Collagen is a protein made up of amino acids. It is one of the most prevalent proteins found throughout the body. It is present in bones, skin, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, your intestinal lining, and other fibrous tissues. The main role of collagen is to provide structural support to your tissues. There are different forms of collagen, but the primary amino acids that comprise it are glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline.
Role of collagen
As we age, collagen levels decrease. This can lead to issues such as osteoarthritis, joint pain, stiff tendons, wrinkled skin, and GI disturbances. As a result, collagen is being added to beauty products and dietary supplements as a means of providing anti-aging benefits, reducing joint pain, supporting healthy bones and healing leaky gut.
Benefits of collagen
While some studies are mixed, there is strong evidence to support the following benefits of collagen
- Promotes skin elasticity, hydration, anti-aging and improvement in overall appearance.
- Can increase bone density and reduce bone loss
- Helps reduce joint pain and stiffness
- Can increase the process of wound healing
There is moderate evidence to support these additional benefits*
- May support growth of hair and nails
- May increase muscle mass
- May protect against mucosal damage and support a healthy intestinal barrier
- May support cardiovascular health
*Further studies are needed
Collagen food sources
So how can you obtain collagen naturally? Collagen is mainly found in animal tissue – primarily in the joints, tendons and bones. Bone broth is another common food source. You can purchase commercially made bone broth, but the best way to reap the benefits is to make it yourself. Here is a recipe you can try.
If eating animal carcass or drinking bone broth is not your thing, you can also try consuming foods that synthesize collagen and support its production. These include poultry, game meat, organ meat, fish, shellfish, cheese, egg whites, seeds, spirulina, and soy.
Collagen supplements come in a variety of forms including capsules, gummies, powders. One of the most common and versatile forms of collagen supplements can be found in bovine, chicken, or marine collagen peptides.
Collagen peptides are the result of larger collagen molecules being broken down into short chain amino acids. Peptides are ideal because they break down easily in liquids. You can add them to both cold and hot beverages, such as coffee or a smoothie. You can also include them in baked goods.
There is no recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for collagen, but on average 2.5-1.5g per day have been utilized in studies. As with all supplements, I only recommend professional grade brands. Supplements are not regulated so quality really does matter. For example, with some commercial protein powders, there is concern about potential lead contamination. It’s worth investing a few more dollars to know that what you are consuming is safe. As always, before consuming any supplement I urge you to talk with a qualified healthcare practitioner to determine if you really need it.
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- The Functional Nutrition Library