Collagen is a vital protein in the body and has become popular in recent years for use in dietary supplementation. But what is it and how could using supplemental collagen benefit your overall fitness program?
What is Collagen and How Does it Work in the Body?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body and has various important roles, including providing structure to your skin, helping your blood clot and strengthening the bones. According to Healthline, collagen is one of the major building blocks of bones, skin, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Collagen is also found in many other body parts, including blood vessels, corneas, and teeth. With so many important roles in the body, it is no wonder that collagen is an important nutrient. As the body ages, it begins to produce less and lower quality collagen. You may be able to help your body produce this important protein by making sure you get plenty of the following nutrients:
Vitamin C. Large amounts are found in citrus fruits, bell peppers, and strawberries.
Proline. Large amounts are found in egg whites, wheat germ, dairy products, cabbage, asparagus, and mushrooms.
Glycine. Large amounts are found in pork skin, chicken skin, and gelatin, but glycine is also found in various protein-containing foods.
Copper. Large amounts are found in organ meats, sesame seeds, cocoa powder, cashews, and lentils.
In addition, your body needs high quality protein that contains the amino acids needed to make new proteins. Meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, legumes, and tofu are all excellent sources of amino acids. (Retrieved from Healthline.com).
Collagen can be found in a number of food sources, and more recently in supplementation form, such as powders or liquids. If you’re looking to get more collagen in your diet, collagen can be found naturally occurring in the following foods:
Bone broth-collagen is found in the connective tissues of animal foods/meat, for example chicken and pork skin. Bone broth is a great way to get collagen in the diet; either homemade or store bought.
Gelatin-this is a cooked down version of collagen and is used in gummies or Jell-o style gelatin foods. Gelatin can also be used to make homemade foods in a variety of ways.
Collagen peptides-broken down collagen in a powder form that is sold at many health food stores with options for a variety of flavors or unflavored. The powder is hydrolyzed and easy to incorporate into a variety of foods, smoothies, even coffee.
What are the health benefits of collagen?
Collagen has many proven health benefits for the human body. Here are some benefits found from increased collagen in the diet:
Improved skin health- several studies have shown that collagen peptides or supplements containing collagen may help slow the aging of your skin by reducing wrinkles and dryness, as well as promoting the production of other proteins that help structure your skin.
Helps relieve joint pain-some studies have shown that taking collagen supplements can help improve symptoms of osteoarthritis and reduce joint pain overall.
Could prevent bone loss-studies have shown that taking collagen supplements may have certain effects in the body that help inhibit the bone breakdown that leads to osteoporosis.
Promotes heart health-Researchers have theorized that taking collagen supplements may help reduce the risk of heart-related conditions.
Could boost muscle mass-Studies suggest that collagen supplements help boost muscle mass in people with sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass that happens with age.
Increases brain health-some users claim that collagen helps with mood and reduction in anxiety. More studies need to be done in this topic area.
Could promote gut health-some health practitioners promote the use of collagen supplements to treat intestinal permeability, or leaky gut syndrome.
Stronger hair and nails-Taking collagen may increase the strength of your nails by preventing brittleness. Additionally, it may stimulate your hair and nails to grow longer. (Retrieved from Healthline.com).
Overall there are many benefits to taking a collagen supplement in your diet and not a lot of negative side effects. There is a small potential of digestive side effects, like feeling full or heartburn, and some report it leaves a lingering taste in the mouth. But overall, collagen use is known to be very safe, and can also be considered very beneficial to your body overall. Should you decide to give it a try, there are many options on the market today.
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