What Is Collagen and How does it benefit you?

What is collagen?

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body of primarily structural component of connective tissues. It helps to make tissues strong and resilient, able to withstand stretching. 

What does it do in your body?

The substance makes up about a third of all the protein in the body, more than any other type of protein in the body by mass. There are 28 different types of collagen, each type categorized based on its amino acid composition. About 90% of the collagen in the body is type 1, which is found in the skin, tendons, internal organs, and organic parts of the bone.

The vast majority of the remaining collagen in the body is made up of the following types: 

  • Type 2: Found in the cartilage.
  • Type 3: Found in the bone marrow and lymphoid tissues.
  • Type 4: Found in the basement membrane (thin sheets of collagen that surround most types of tissues).
  • Type 5: Found in the hair and the surfaces of cells.

Where does Collagen come from? 

The body naturally makes its collagen by breaking down dietary protein into amino acids. The amino acids help build the various types of protein in the body, including collagen. By eating a balanced diet of protein-rich foods such as chicken, beef, eggs, dairy, legumes, nuts, and whole grains, and a variety of fresh produce you may get specific building blocks for collagen. A diet high in fresh vegetables and fruit has the added benefit of providing antioxidants, which protect the body from oxidative stress that can degrade collagen. 

How does it benefit you?

Collagen has many important functions, including providing your skin with structure and strengthening your bones. In recent years, collagen supplements have become popular. Most are hydrolyzed, which means the collagen has been broken down, making it easier for you to absorb.

Here are some of the science-backed health benefits of taking collagen:

  • Can improve skin health

It plays a role in strengthening skin, plus may benefit elasticity and hydration. As you age, your body produces less collagen, leading to dry skin and the formation of wrinkles. Several studies have shown that collagen peptides or supplements containing collagen may help slow the aging of your skin by reducing wrinkles and dryness.

In one study, women who took a supplement containing 2.5–5 grams of collagen for 8 weeks experienced less skin dryness and a significant increase in skin elasticity compared with those who did not take the supplement.

You can buy collagen supplements online.

  • Help relieve joint pain

As the amount of collagen in your body decreases as you get older, your risk of developing degenerative joint disorders such as osteoarthritis increases. Researchers have theorized that supplemental collagen may accumulate in cartilage and stimulate your tissues to make collagen. Studies suggest this may lead to lower inflammation, better support of your joints, and reduced pain.

  • Could prevent bone loss

Consuming collagen supplements may help reduce the risk of bone disorders like osteoporosis. They have the potential to help increase BMD and lower levels of proteins in the blood that stimulate bone breakdown.

The Takeaway

Taking collagen is associated with several health benefits and very few known risks. Collagen supplements are generally safe, quite easy to use, and worth trying for their potential benefits. Collagen supplements may lead to side effects, such as a bad taste in the mouth, heartburn, and fullness. If you have allergies, make sure to purchase supplements that aren’t made from collagen sources you’re allergic to.

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