Recently, you may have noticed many health gurus, and even your friends or family, buzzing about the benefits of collagen. But why? Isn’t collagen what’s used for Botox or other types of artificial injections? As it turns out, collagen has a wealth of beneficial uses—and it is much less foreign to your body than you think.
There are 28 types of collagen that comprise 30% of the protein in the body. Types I, II, and III are the most common, but all 28 are essential for providing structural support, organization, and shape to the skin, tendons, ligaments, organs, bones, and gastrointestinal system. Without collagen, many systems of the body would not run smoothly or be adequately supported.
Thankfully, the body creates its own collagen, but issues can arise during aging when the amount of collagen that the body produces begins to decrease. When this happens, you may begin to experience sagging and drying skin, joint problems, general pain due to reduced cartilage, etc. Considering the importance of collagen, what can be done to maintain collagen levels?
One of the easiest ways is to eat right. Amino acids and vitamins are the two primary components that the body uses when making collagen. Amino acids like glycine, proline, hydroxyproline, and arginine are most important. As for vitamins and minerals, vitamin C, zinc, and copper are the most important. To increase the availability of these necessary materials, eat more protein-rich foods like beef, chicken, fish, beans, and eggs, dairy products, and citrus fruits, peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, greens, and whole grains. Another recommendation is bone broth, which is made by boiling animal bones to draw out the nutrients.
Another good option is a collagen supplement. However, not all collagen supplements contain the same type of collagen, so checking the label and buying the one that is right for you is important. Supplements containing type I and III collagen may help to support healthy looking skin, skin elasticity, a healthy bone matrix, better nail bed structure, healthy circulation, and glycine production for muscle health. Type II supplements may be ideal for maintaining cartilage throughout the body, and the normal function of joints such as the knees, back, and jaw. Be aware that the collagen in supplements may come from cows, eggshells, chicken, and fish, which may limit availability to vegans.
You may also want to consider skin creams with synthetic collagen. These are extremely popular for promoting healthy skin—while not as effective as healthy eating, it may still have a beneficial effect.
If you are curious to learn more about the role collagen plays in your body, and how to maintain collagen levels, check out this article on collagen.