What is collagen, and why should you have more of it?

Maybe you have a friend that swears collagen is making her hair grow longer, or perhaps an aunt that claims collagen is why she doesn’t have any wrinkles. Well, what is collagen exactly? And what does it actually do for our bodies?

Collagen

First of all, collagen is a protein, which is made up of amino acids. There are thousands of other proteins in your body (1), including hemoglobin, keratin, and enzymes. The amino acids that make up collagen are glyclin, proline, and hydroxyproline (2). As a protein, collagen helps with the structure of your body. Without it, the cells and tissues of your body would lack the firmness and rigidity they require (3). On average, collagen accounts for about a third of the 

Benefits of collagen

People have been rushing to add more collagen to their daily regimen because of the beautification effects. But, what exactly are the benefits of collagen? First, as many know, collagen can have anti-aging effects. As mentioned, collagen helps structure your body. This can mean firmness for your skin, which helps reduce cellulite and wrinkles (4). In a study, subjects that were given a collagen supplement had positive effects on the visible appearance of the skin, as well as the physiological make-up of it (5). The subjects of the study took the collagen supplement for three months and noted differences throughout the process. Some of the notable differences in appearance include reduced visibility of wrinkles and a more hydrated look to the skin. Subjects also noted that there was less of a need for other skincare products, such as lotions. The reason collagen may deter the need for external products, like lotions and serums, is that collagen is absorbed internally. Skincare products often fail to reach the deeper layers of skin, such as the dermis. Collagen is typically taken orally, so it is able to reach these deep layers of skin successfully.

Collagen has a lot more to offer your body than just beautification of your skin, hair, and nails. If you have issues with your gut health, collagen can help you there, too. Some issues with the gut are caused if your intestines are not tightly bound. Collagen can help bind your intestines, which then leads to less discomfort (6).

Collagen can also help reduce joint pain. Many studies have been done to test the effects of collagen on patients with Osteoarthritis (7). The studies done haven’t defined how much effect collagen has, but most studies have found reduced inflammation (8). As more studies are done, we can hope that the true impact of collagen on joints becomes clear.

How to consume more collagen

If you want to, collagen can be taken as a supplement, whether it be in a capsule you take every morning or a powder you add to your smoothie. However, it’s also in an abundance of foods. Plus, most foods that are high in collagen are ones you should try to add to your diet anyway. Some great sources of collagen include eggs, berries, leafy greens, and chicken, but MedicineNet offers a full list for a “collagen diet” on their website (9). No matter how you want to consume it, collagen is an important part of your body that you should focus on adding to your routine. On average, you’ll want between 5-10 grams of collagen a day to enjoy the benefits (10).

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