Collagen – What is it?

Did you know that collagen is the most abundant protein in your body? It’s also the major component of connective tissues the make up your tendons, ligaments, skin and muscles. Collagen functions as the ‘glue’ that gives your skin structure and helps keep your bones strong. You make collagen your whole life… unfortunately as you age, your body makes less collagen.
There isn’t a blood test or any other way to effectively measure the amount of collagen in your body. But, you can tell when your body doesn’t have enough… or at least, doesn’t have as much collagen at it used to. Signs your collagen levels are dipping include: your skin loses some of its elasticity.. more wrinkles show up and your wounds heal more slowly. You may become less flexible and as your cartilage wears down, suffer from joint pain.
To up our collagen intake you can drink bone broth or eat the connective tissue (primarily skin) of chicken, pork and fish. You may also consider taking collagen supplements.

What the experts say:

Brianna Elliott, a registered dietitian, has explored the benefits of collagen supplements and has researched these benefits… from a scientific view. Here’s what Brianna found: There are 6 science backed health benefits of taking collagen.

  1. Helps improve skin health.
    • Plays a role in strengthening skin, plus may benefit elasticity and hydration.
    • The wrinkle-reducing effects of collagen supplements may be attributed to their ability to stimulate your body to produce collagen on its own.
    • Taking collagen supplements may promote the production of other proteins that help structure your skin, including elastin and fibrillin.
  2. Helps relieve joint pain.
    • Collagen helps maintain the integrity of your cartilage, which is the rubber-like tissue that protects your joints.
    • Taking collagen supplements may help improve symptoms of osteoarthritis and reduce joint pain overall.
    • Researchers have theorized that supplemental collagen may accumulate in cartilage and stimulate your tissues to make collagen.
  3. Could help prevent bone loss.
    • Your bones are made mostly of collagen, which gives them structure and helps keep them strong.
    • Studies have shown that taking collagen supplements may have certain effects in the body that help inhibit the bone breakdown that leads to osteoporosis.
  4. Could boost muscle mass.
    • Between 1–10% of muscle tissue is composed of collagen. This protein is necessary to keep your muscles strong and functioning properly.
    • Studies suggest that collagen supplements can help boost muscle mass in people with sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass that happens with age.
    • Researchers have suggested that taking collagen may promote the synthesis of muscle proteins such as creatine, and may also stimulate muscle growth after exercise.
  5. Promotes heart health
    • Collagen provides structure to your arteries, the blood vessels that carry blood from your heart to the rest of your body. Without enough collagen, arteries may become weak and fragile.
    • Studies show that collagen supplement intake may also lead to an increase in levels of “good” HDL cholesterol. HDL is an important factor in the risk of heart conditions, including atherosclerosis
  6. Additional health benefits.
    • Collagen supplements may have other health benefits, but these have not been studied as extensively: hair and nails, gut health, brain health.

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