Benefits of Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body. It has an important role, including providing structure to your skin and helping blood clots. In recent years, it has become popular as a nutritional supplement and ingredient in shampoos and body lotions. But what is collagen? And how good is it? This article gives you an overview of this critical protein.
What is Collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body, accounting for about one-third of its protein content. Collagen is one of the primary building blocks of bones, skin, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Collagen is also found in many other parts of the body, including blood vessels, corneas, and teeth. You can think of it as a “glue” that holds all these things together. The word comes from the Greek word “kólla,” meaning glue.
Below is an illustration of the molecular structure of collagen:
What Collagen does in your body?
There are at least 16 types of collagen. The four main types are Type I, II, III, and IV.
Here is a closer look at the four main types of collagen and their role in your body:
- Type I: This type accounts for 90% of the body’s collagen and is made of densely packed fibers. It provides structure for skin, bones, tendons, cartilage, connective tissue, and teeth.
- Type II: This type is made from many more loosely packed fibers and is found in elastic cartilage, joint cushions.
- Type III: This type supports muscle, internal organs, and arteries.
- Type IV: This type helps to filter and be found in your skin layers.
As you get older, your body produces less collagen, and the quality is less.
One of the visible signs of this is in your skin when it becomes less firm and supple. Cartilage also weakens with age.
Nutrients increase collagen production.
All collagen starts as procollagen. Your body makes procollagen by combining two amino acids: glycine and proline. This process uses vitamin C.
You can help your body produce this critical protein by making sure you have the following nutrients:
- Vitamin C: Large amounts are found in citrus fruits, bell peppers, and strawberries.
Proline: A large amount is found in egg whites, wheat germs, dairy products, cabbage, asparagus, and mushrooms.
- Glycine: A large amount is found in pigskin, chicken skin and gelatin, but glycine is also found in other protein-containing foods.
- Copper: Large amounts are found in visceral meat, sesame seeds, cocoa powder, cashews, and lentils.
Also, your body needs high-quality protein that contains the amino acids required to create new proteins. Meat, poultry, seafood, milk, beans, and tofu are all great sources of amino acids.
Things that destroy Collagen
Perhaps more important is avoiding the following things that destroy collagen:
- Sugar and refined starch: Sugar interferes with collagen’s ability to repair itself. Minimize consumption of refined sugar and cornstarch.
- Too much sunshine: Ultraviolet radiation can reduce collagen production. Avoid excessive sunbathing.
- Smoking: Smoking reduces collagen production. That can help heal wounds and lead to wrinkles.
Some autoimmune disorders, such as lupus, can also damage collagen.
Natural Food Source
Collagen found in connective tissue from meat. For example, it found in large quantities in chicken and pork. A particularly rich source of collagen is the broth from chicken bones and other animals. Necessary gelatin made from collagen, so it needs a large amount of amino acid to produce it.
When you load it into protein, it is broken down into amino acids and then reassembled. So the collagen you eat will not translate directly into higher levels in your body.
Benefits of Collagen Supplements
Two types of supplements are becoming popular: collagen hydrolyzate and gelatin. Gelatin produced when the collagen cooked.
They break down large amounts of protein into smaller peptides, which more easily absorbed in the body.
The benefits that collagen supplements can bring to the body:
- Muscle mass: A 2015 study in older men showed that an association between collagen peptide supplementation and exercise helped increase muscle mass and overall strength.
- Arthritis: Another study has shown the effect of collagen on people with osteoarthritis. They significantly reduced pain in the 70-day study.
- Skin elasticity: Women taking Collagen supplements show improved skin elasticity. Collagen is also used in topical treatments to improve the appearance of the skin by reducing wrinkles.
How to supplement Collagen
Collagen peptide in the powder can easily combine into food. The peptide form has no gel, so you can mix it into a smoothie, soup, or baked goods without affecting the texture.
You can use gelatin to make jello or gummies. Check out some recipes here.
When considering taking collagen supplements, you should find a high-quality supplement. Typical is Marine Collagen made from natural fish skin.
Dose and side effects
So far, there has not been any noticeable information about the safety or effectiveness of collagen supplementation. The potential side effects of gelatin supplements are only prolonged flavors and heavy abdominal feeling and heartburn. Also, if you are allergic to supplements, you may have an allergic reaction.
Collagen is an essential protein that forms the structure for many parts of the body. What’s interesting is that the foods and nutrients you eat can help your body make this protein.
Besides, supplementing collagen may also bring some significant benefits. Some preliminary studies show that they can improve skin quality, muscle function, and pain relief from osteoarthritis.