Collagen. It’s the new darling of the supplement industry and even celebrities are singing its praises on television. Basically, collagen is the protein that keeps your joints strong and gives skin its structure, elasticity and stretch.
It can be found naturally in the body’s muscles, skin and bones and makes up about 25% of your total body mass.
There are various types of collagen, but our body mainly consists of types 1, 2 and 3. As you age, you produce less collagen in your skin every year and that’s why you see wrinkles and thinning skin.
People looking to boost their collagen levels are turning to outside sources like supplements or creams, which mainly get their collagen from cows, fish, chickens and other animals.
Collagen can be taken internally in powder form or pills, or it can be added to skin care products.
Some experts suggest using a moisturizer with peptides if you are looking to work on specific areas. Peptides are a key ingredient to look for since collagen breaks down into chains of amino acids called peptides, so applying a peptide-based cream can help promote the body’s natural collagen production.
A study in Skin Pharmacology and Physiology noted that skin elasticity considerably improved when participants took a collagen supplement for eight weeks. Another study found that taking a collagen supplement for three months increased collagen density in the crow’s-feet area by 19%.
A study on joint pain found that continuous collagen supplements lessened joint pain in athletes.
Additional benefits linked to collagen include reduced appearance of cellulite and stretch marks, reduced anxiety, boosted metabolism and improved liver health.
Collagen protein powder can be added to smoothies, oatmeal or even your coffee. Because it is virtually tasteless, it can be added to most foods.
Be sure and look for grass-fed, pasture-raised versions without chemicals and antibiotics. Use 1 to 2 tablespoons per day to get the benefits and get an added protein boost as well.
To protect the collagen you have already, be sure and wear sunscreen every day, stay away from cigarettes, eat a healthy and varied diet and make sure you are getting enough sleep. And add as much collagen-rich foods as possible.
Stay away from too much sugar and refined carbs because they can cause inflammation and damage collagen.
Add these foods to your diet to increase collagen or aid in collagen production.
- Bone broth, home-made or store bought
- Fish and shellfish
- Egg whites have large amounts of proline, an amino acid necessary for collagen production
- Beans contain the amino acids necessary for collagen synthesis.