The Role of Collagen in Your Body – 4 Health Benefits of Dietary Collagen
What is collagen?
Collagen is one of the main nutrients that helps build your skin, muscle, ligament, tendon, and bone tissue. It makes up 30% of your body’s total protein. All protein in your body is made up of amino acids.
The amino acids that are the building blocks of collagen are: proline, glycine and hydroxyproline. These three amino acids paired with vitamins and minerals like copper, vitamin C, zinc, and manganese to build the structure of collagen in the body.
What role does collagen play in your body?
The main role of collagen in your body is to provide structural support. Below are the specific roles that collagen is needed to keep the body healthy
- Helps form new skin cells which replace dead skin cells
- Helps improve elasticity of the skin
- Provides a protective “shell” for bodily organs
- Helps maintain the structure of cartilage in the joints
- And so much more!
Naturally, your body should be producing collagen; however, as you age the amount of collagen you produce declines and the collagen you already have in your body breaks down faster. The collagen that the body does produce as you age can be of lower quality too.
Damaging lifestyle habits that impact collagen
There are many lifestyle habits that can be harmful to your body in general. Avoiding the lifestyle habits below can help you reduce your risk for lower levels of collagen production.
- Smoking – nicotine prevents oxygen and other nutrients from getting to your skin. It can damage collagen in your body and cause your skin to wrinkle and lead to slower wound healing.
- Excessive exposure to UV light – Using the tanning bed too much or staying in the sun too long without sunscreen can reduce the production of collagen causing wrinkles as well.
Foods that contain collagen
Although there are many products that offer collagen supplementation, getting collagen from a well balanced nutrition plan can potentially be better for your health. Eating a well balanced diet filled with lots of proteins, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and dairy can give your body way more vitamins and minerals it needs compared to only consuming collagen supplements.
Foods with gelatin provide collagen. Bone broth is a great example of a gelatin food that provides collagen to your body after consumption.
Collagen is also found in the tissues of animals chicken, pork, beef, and fish. Eating these types of foods will help you produce collagen in your body to help maintain your skin, bone, hair, joint, and muscle health.
4 Health Benefits of Dietary Collagen
Collagen and Skin Health
Collagen strengthens your skin. It also provides elasticity and hydration. As you age, your body produces less collagen which can lead to more wrinkled and dry skin.
Collagen supplements may be able to help your body to jump start the production process of collagen which could improve your skin health.
Collagen and Joint/Muscle Health
Collagen helps maintain the structure of cartilage in the joints. As you age, you may be at an increased risk for osteoarthritis.
There is research that theorizes that supplemental collagen can lead to reduced inflammation and joint pain.
Although more research is needed for collagen’s ability to increase muscle mass, there is research that supports collagen supplementation and increased muscle mass too.
Collagen and Bone Health
Collagen gives your bones structure and support. Unfortunately, bone density declines as you age which can lead to an increased risk of injury.
Studies have shown that collagen can help prevent bone breakdown which reduces the risk for developing osteoporosis.
Collagen and Heart Health
Collagen helps provide structural support for your arteries. Collagen helps keep your blood vessels flexible so that they can easily transport blood from your heart to all your other organs.
Research supports collagen’s role in reducing the risk of certain heart conditions like atherosclerosis.
Recommended Collagen Products
Like I said, collagen has vital roles in your body. If you are eating a well balanced diet filled with lots of proteins, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and dairy then your body should be making its own collagen. If you feel like you have lower collagen levels, or feel like your nutrition habits are not helping you produce the amount of collagen your body needs to stay healthy, there are products that you can purchase.
Below are products that I like to recommend to my clients if they need/want supplemental collagen.
(This one is my personal favorite. I use this in my smoothies for an extra nutrition boost.)
Click here for more products and resources on how to use collagen to maintain your health.
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