Collagen has taken the health world by storm – touting benefits such as glowing skin, weight loss, and flexible joints. It’s even garnered a reputation as the “fountain of youth.” But does collagen really live up to its reputation?
While these claims might sound too good to be true, as it turns out, collagen really does have incredible health benefits that might just surprise you. Let’s dive into exactly what collagen is, where it comes from and most importantly – how you can start reaping the benefits of collagen.
What is Collagen?
Collagen is a complex protein made up of amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) that pack together to form chains known as fibrils. These collagen fibrils are found in nearly every tissue in the human body from your skin to your digestive tract.
Collagen gives these tissues structure, strength, and elasticity – which is why it’s often described as the “glue” that holds your body together. In fact, some types of collagen fibers are so strong and “glue-like”, when compared gram for gram, they are actually stronger than steel.1
Where Does Collagen Come From?
Your body naturally produces collagen. Your connective tissues are the main source of collagen production, but other cells secrete small amounts as well. As you age, your natural collagen production begins to decline. This is why we tend to get wrinkles and become a little less flexible the older we get.2
Exactly how much of your collagen levels decline over time are impacted by several factors such as:
- Age: The older you get, the more your levels will inevitably drop off.
- Diet: Eating a diet high in sugar increases advanced glycation end products (AGEs) which are damaging to proteins like collagen. Nutritional deficiencies can also deplete collagen levels if you don’t consume enough of the building blocks necessary for collagen production.
- Smoking: The toxins from cigarette smoke are highly damaging to collagen molecules. Smoking also constricts blood vessels, making it more difficult for your body to deliver vital nutrients, like collagen, to certain tissues.
- Autoimmunity: Certain autoimmune disorders (such as arthritis or lupus) may cause your body to mistakenly target and attack the connective tissues that produce collagen.
Fortunately, you don’t have to rely entirely on your natural production to get enough collagen.
Where Else Can I Get Collagen From?
Animals, just like us, also produce collagen, making it easier to find it in certain foods and supplements. Since collagen is primarily produced in connective tissues, the most collagen-rich sources of food typically come from the skin or bones of animals. Collagen supplements are usually sourced from the following animals:
- Bovine (cows)
- Marine (fish)
- Porcine (pigs)
Giving yourself a daily boost of collagen is one of the easiest and most effective ways to start enjoying it’s impressive health benefits.
What Can Collagen Do for Me?
Considering that collagen is essentially the “glue” that holds your body together, it’s no surprise that adequate levels are crucial for overall health. The benefits of collagen are countless, but here are some of the most notable benefits associated with boosting your collagen levels:
Collagen Improves Heart Health
Collagen is an essential building block to give your blood vessels the elasticity and integrity they need to effectively transport blood from your heart to the rest of your body. If your arteries and veins start losing their suppleness and strength they can become stiff, narrow, and weak. This can spell trouble for your heart and significantly increase your risk of a stroke or heart attack. Adequate levels of collagen prevent stiffness and drastically reduces your risk of related heart problems.3
Collagen Is Crucial For Joint Health
Your joints are held together and supported by the rubbery connective tissue known as cartilage. Collagen is a crucial component to cartilage health, growth, and functioning. Adequate collagen is key in preventing joint problems like:4
- Joint pain
- Joint stiffness
- Degenerative joint disorders
Studies have even found that collagen supplementation can ease joint pain and enhance your ability to engage in physical activities.5,6
Collagen Supports Your Bones
Your bones are made mostly of collagen – which is what makes them so strong.7 Collagen is vital when it comes to maintaining and increasing bone density and preventing bone loss. Studies have found that increased collagen levels improve the amount of healthy minerals in bones and wards off bone breakdown.8.9
Collagen Improves Your Skin’s Appearance
Collagen can help reduce wrinkles and fine lines as well as cellulite and stretch marks. That’s because collagen’s health-boosting benefits for your skin are threefold. Collagen helps:10,11
- Increase your skin’s elasticity.
- Improve your skin’s ability to retain moisture retention.
- Stimulate your natural production of fibrin and elastin – additional proteins that are essential to skin health. 12
As an added bonus, collagen also helps your hair and nails grow stronger and longer.
Collagen Supports Weight Loss & Boosts Muscle Mass
Collagen is particularly useful when it comes to weight loss because it can help you shed extra pounds in a couple of ways:
- As a protein, it can help you feel more satisfied after meals, and feel fuller longer.
- Your muscles contain a small amount of collagen and keeping that will help your muscles stay strong and grow.13 And more muscle means you burn more calories by just existing.
Collagen Can Aid In Healing Leaky Gut Syndrome
When the lining in your digestive tract is compromised and weakened it can create tiny “gaps” that allow particles to seep through your intestinal lining. This is called leaky gut syndrome and has been linked to a number of chronic diseases such as:
- Autoimmune disorders
- Metabolic conditions
But collagen can help to fill in those tiny gaps of the intestinal lining – essentially “sealing the leaks.”
Ready To Start Enjoying The Benefits Of Collagen?
Adequate collagen is crucial for overall health – helping you look and feel your best. Which is why I highly recommend a daily collagen supplement to most of my patients. One of my favorite ways to enjoy collagen is to simply add it into my morning coffee with a delicious collagen creamer by Vital Proteins. Or, you can sneak it into your favorite recipe or beverage by adding a scoop of my unflavored Collagen Boost Formula.
Regardless of how you choose to get your daily dose of collagen, this is one supplement that everyone can benefit from. Head on over to my online shop to grab your own collagen supplement and start reaping the benefits today.
Now it’s time to hear from you! Are you surprised by the health-boosting benefits of collagen? What’s your favorite way to get your daily dose of collagen? Share your questions and thoughts in the comments below.
The information in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease state or medical condition and has not been evaluated by the <a href="https://www.fda.gov/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">FDA</a>. This is not intended to replace any recommendations by or relationship with your physician. The references included in each article allude to the level of scientific rigor I have applied to my writing. When changes become apparent we will update the information if appropriate.