Collagen is gaining popularity as a nutritional supplement. You may be starting to see it in things like shampoo, or lotions, but what exactly is it and what does it do?
It's the protein in your body you have the most of and it does a lot of important things from making up the structure of your skin to helping your blood clot.
What is collagen?
Collagen is a major building block when it comes to all things protein in your body. It helps build and repair bones, skin, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. You can also find collagen in your teeth, blood vessels, and corneas.
There are at least 16 different types of collagen but the main types are labeled 1 through 4:
-1 provides the structure for your teeth, bones, skin, tendons, connective tissue, and fibrous cartilage.
-2 is found in elastic cartilage that cushions your joints.
-3 supports the structure of your organs, muscles, and arteries.
-4 helps with filtration and is found in layers of your skin.
We produce less and lower quality collagen as we age. This is what can lead to wrinkles in our skin. Our skin becomes less firm and supple, and our cartilage also weakens.
Health benefits of collagen.
Taking or getting collagen from natural sources has a variety of health benefits.
Skin health - Collagen strengthens your skin and helps with things like hydration and elasticity.
Relieves joint pain - Collagen maintains the cartilage that protects your joints.
Can prevent bone loss - Collagen can help stop the breakdown of bones that leads to osteoporosis.
Can boost muscle mass - A collagen supplement can help boost muscle mass in those with sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass as we age.
Promotes heart health - Collagen gives structure to your arteries, keeping them strong and healthy.
Other health benefits - Collagen also helps build strong hair and nails, helps with gut and brain health, and can aid with weight loss.
Where does collagen come from?
Collagen is found in the connective tissues of animals, dairy products, and beans. One of the best sources of collagen is bone broth which can be made by boiling the skin and bones of an animal.
Several vitamins and minerals also help with the production of collagen. Here's what and where to find these nutrients:
Vitamin C - Citrus, bell peppers, strawberries.
Proline - Egg whites, wheat germ, dairy, cabbage, asparagus, and mushrooms.
Glycine - Pork skin, chicken skin, gelatin.
Copper - Organ meats, sesame seeds, cocoa powder, cashews, and lentils.
What damages collagen?
There are certain behaviors that can damage collagen. They are eating sugar and refined carbs, getting too much sunshine, and smoking. Certain autoimmune disorders such as lupus can also damage collagen.
What collagen supplements to take.
Collagen comes in a powder form that you can add to pretty much any type of food or hot beverage. Make sure to look for a high-quality collagen source for quality assurance.
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