Benefits of Collagen For Skin and Taking Collagen Supplements
Introduction to Collagen
Many people are aware of what collagen is, however, they may not know the true importance of collagen cells in the process of helping our body function. Collagen is the main structural protein of the extracellular space in multiple connective tissues. It makes up a whopping 80 percent of our skin tissues. Collagen has significant roles including providing structure to your skin tissues and helping blood clot. It is one of the biggest building blocks of bones, skin, muscles, tendons and ligaments.
In young skin, the collagen protein is intact, and the skin remains moisturised and elastic. Collagen is extremely important in skin elasticity, however, overtime the body natural production of collagen gradually reduces, which weakens the skin natural structure and loses its elasticity. The skin will appear duller and less plump, making facial lines and wrinkles more prominent.
As you age, adding more collagen to your diet sounds like a no-brainer and you may consider consuming natural food sources that contain collagen such as pork skin and bone broth. These ingredients are incorporated into many Asian dishes with the believe of helping skin replenishment. You could also consider taking collagen supplements, which come in various forms such as powders and pills, Dr. Moyad says these supplements are made mostly from animal parts, like fish scales or cow bones or skin.
Exploring more into the body natural production of collagen, essentially, it is the “glue” that holds your body together. Collagen is one of the rare things that really can help you age backwards. All those expensive treatments at the dermatologists such as lasers usually help stimulate the production of collagen, by allowing your skin to naturally activate its own production. Collagen works together with elastin protein to strengthen the skin and help it snap back into place when stretched or teared.
Benefits of Collagen
As mentioned above, collagen has significant benefits to your skin and body, it does more than just improving the physical appearance of your skin. What you might not know about collagen is that it has powerful health benefits far beyond its beauty-boosting abilities. For this reason, it has made its way onto the shelves of health food stores and into food products such as protein bars, tea, and even coffee. In this section, we will take a look at some of the true benefits of collagen that may convince you to start taking care of your skin.
1. Can improve skin health
One of its well-known fact, by now I am sure you have already established that collagen plays a vital role in keeping our body intact and properly functioned throughout the day. Essentially, it acts as “glue” to keep the connective tissues together.
2. Help relieve joint pain
Collagen helps maintain the integrity of your cartilage, which is the rubber-like tissue that protects your joints. Much like oil in a car, collagen allows your joints, tendons, and ligaments to glide and move easily. Some studies have also shown that collagen supplements can help relieve joint pain experience in old age.
3. Help repair leaky guts
Nearly 80% of your immune system is housed in your gut. Collagen supplementation can help repair a leaky gut. When you have a Leaky gut, toxins, food particles, and infections can pass through your intestinal wall and into your bloodstream, causing inflammation. Because your Intestinal wall is made up of microscopic folds or “villi” which are actually built of collagen. The amino acids in collagen quite literally, “seal the leak” by supporting cellular health and tissue growth.
4. Maintains your heart health
Proline, which is found in collagen, can impact the depositing of fat in your arteries and the repair of tissues within them.
5. Supporting bone formation, growth and repair
Your bones are one-third collagen, which gives them their flexibility. Your bone cells are constantly turning over and adding collagen protein to your daily diet may support both health by increasing bone mineral density.
6. Support liver function and detoxification
The toxins we are exposed to every day must be processed by your liver to be removed from your body. Glycine, which is found in collagen, can support your liver during the potentially damaging detoxification process.
7. Strengthen 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.
How to Add Collagen into Your Diet/ Best Natural Food Sources of Collagen
As you age, you may consider adding collagen-rich food into your diet as we have discussed its various health benefits as well as improving the appearance of your skin. Collagen-rich foods such as spinach, kale, tomatoes, beets, fish and bone broth has become wildly popular in recent years as an excellent source of collagen. However, many people find it inconvenient to incorporate bone broth into their diets or go through the process of making it at home. Collagen can also be found in simple everyday ingredients and here is food that help your body create more collagen:
- Wild salmon
- Leafy greens like kale and spinach
- Chia seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
Nutrients that Increase Collagen Production
Your body naturally creates procollagen by combining glycine and proline. This process uses vitamin C. To ensure that your body receives enough nutrients to produce plenty of collagen, you may want to consider adding these ingredients into your skincare or diet.
- Vitamin C: Large amounts are found in citrus fruits, bell peppers, and strawberries or through the use of topical creams.
- Proline: found in egg whites, wheat germ, dairy products, cabbage, asparagus, and mushrooms
- Glycine: Large amounts are found in pork skin, chicken skin, and gelatine, 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 requires protein that contains sufficient amount of amino acids in order to produce collagen. This can be found in meat, poultry, seafood, diary and many more.
Things that Damage Collagen
- Sugar and refined carbs: Sugar interferes with collagen’s ability to repair itself. Trying to minimize your consumption of added sugar and refined carbs.
- Too much sunshine: Ultraviolet radiation can reduce collagen production. Avoid excessive sun exposure.
- Smoking: Smoking reduces collagen production. This can impair wound healing and lead to wrinkles.
Having some autoimmune disorders, such as lupus, can also damage collagen.
Collagen Side Effects/ Is It Safe to Take Collagen Supplements
Currently, there are not many known risks associated with taking collagen supplements. There have been several researches done about the side effects of taking collagen supplements, however so far, the side effects seem to be minimal and not vital.
However, some supplements are made from common food allergens, such as fish, shellfish, and eggs. People with allergies to these foods should avoid collagen supplements made with these ingredients to prevent allergic reactions. Before taking any supplements, it may be recommended to consult your doctor or dermatologist.
Some people also reported that collagen supplements leave a lingering bad taste in their mouth. Additionally, collagen supplements have the potential to cause digestive side effects, such as feelings of fullness and heartburn. However, these supplements appear to be safe for most people. However, it's important to do a little research before stocking up.
How to Take Collagen supplements and How to Choose a Collagen Supplement
According to several studies, taking collagen supplements orally is associated with improving skin hydration, elasticity and wrinkling. The result is due to the activation of collagen production. Collagen peptides are in supplements. They’re made of the same amino acids as collagen but are more easily absorbed by our bodies, because they are shorter chains of amino acids than regular collagen. To make the right choice with your collagen supplements you should consider doing extensive research before consuming any foreign product into your body.
It's always better to choose food over supplements no matter what, says Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN, Nutrition Director at the Good Housekeeping Institute. We know tons about the benefits of eating protein (among all other nutrients) in food, but very little about the benefits of eating it in isolated form.
However, if you decide to go with over the counter supplements, here are some tips you may want to consider when choosing your supplements:
- Always choose ones with as few simple ingredients as possible. Collagen protein powder should just be collagen protein isolate, a.k.a. collagen hydrolysate, hydrolysed collagen, or collagen peptides. Any extra ingredients will not only increase the chance of allergy, but it will also shift the main purpose of taking the supplement.
- Skip the flavoured versions. These can contain added sugars, which could upset your GI tract or just add calories where you didn’t want them. Go for the plain version and add a sweetener to desserts yourself.
- Look for a third-party certification. Given the lack of FDA regulation, any time you're choosing a dietary supplement, check if a credible group like the NSF, UL, or USP has tested it for safety before.