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What About Collagen?

What about collagen?

Collagen is a key component in bones, skin, muscles, and other body parts. People often take collagen supplement to support skin health, among other things, but does it really help?

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body. Its fiber-like structure is used to make connective tissue. Like the name implies, this type of tissue connects other tissues and is a major component of bone, skin, muscles, tendons, and cartilage. It helps to make tissues strong and resilient, able to withstand stretching.

In food, collagen is naturally found only in animal flesh like meat and fish that contain connective tissue. However, a variety of both animal and plant foods contain materials for collagen production in our own bodies. Vitamin C is crucial for collagen synthesis, so you should also be sure to eat foods rich in this vitamin, such as citrus fruits, broccoli, and bell peppers!

Our bodies gradually make less collagen as we age, but collagen production drops most quickly due to excess sun exposure, smoking, excess alcohol, and lack of sleep and exercise.

With aging, collagen in the deep skin layers changes from a tightly organized network of fibers to an unorganized maze. Environmental exposures can damage collagen fibers reducing their thickness and strength, leading to wrinkles on the skin’s surface.

In recent years, collagen supplements have become popular. Most are hydrolyzed, which means the collagen has been broken down to make it easier to absorb.

These supplements come primarily in powder form but are also available in capsules.

Health benefits from collagen supplements

  • May improve skin health : plays a role in strengthening skin, as well as in elasticity and hydration. As you age, your body produces less collagen, leading to dry skin and the formation of wrinkles. However, several studies have shown that collagen peptides or supplements containing collagen may help slow the aging of your skin by reducing wrinkles and dryness.

  • May relieve joint pain

  • May prevent bone loss : Your bones are made mostly of collagen, which gives them structure and strength. Just as the collagen in your body deteriorates with age, so does bone mass. This may lead to conditions such as osteoporosis, which is characterized by low bone density and a higher risk of bone fractures. Studies note that collagen supplements may help inhibit the bone breakdown that leads to osteoporosis.

  • May boost muscle mass

  • May promote hearth health

More research is needed to determine whether eating collagen-rich foods helps increase collagen levels in your body, as they may not have the same benefits as supplements.

Digestive enzymes break down the collagen in food into individual amino acids and peptides. However, the collagen in supplements has already been broken down, or hydrolyzed, which is why it’s thought to be absorbed more efficiently than collagen from foods. Scientific studies show that (smaller) hydrolysates improve the antioxidant properties, aid the digestion of amino acids and increase the absorption of collagen. Collagen is often offered in combination with other oxidants to make its action even more complete: zinc, vitamins C and E, vitamin B2, etc.

- Valerie Loose

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