If you’re anything like me, then I can guess you have been on a quest to find the latest & greatest health secrets. As an adult-gerontology nurse practitioner, I am passionate about improving the quality and quantity of life for my patients. For optimal longevity, we must take care of our bodies, inside & out.
Collagen is one of the leading anti-aging and beauty trends on the market. We see it everywhere, creams, injections, powders, and more to promote a youthful appearance. So, does it work? First, let’s dig into what collagen really is.
What is Collagen?
Collagen is one of the most important proteins in the human body. It’s literally the glue that holds our insides together. Collagen is essential for healthy skin, hair, nails, joints, and even gut health. Your body can make its own collagen supply from your diet, which runs at top speed during the younger years. Unfortunately, as we get older, our ability to make new collagen slows down. With age, the gut absorbs fewer nutrients that are required to convert collagen into a usable form.
Good News! You can help meet your collagen needs by adjusting your diet and/or taking a daily supplement. Taking a collagen supplement will ensure you have plenty on board for connective tissue support to help promote supple skin and strong joints throughout your life. Who doesn’t want that?!
Factors affecting collagen levels:
We already know the aging process depletes collagen levels. Some other factors that can also reduce collagen are excessive exposure to sunlight, cigarette smoking, and a diet high in sugar. Therefore, avoiding excessive sunlight, sugar and smoking will promote natural collagen levels. So besides the obvious annual birthday reminder, how do you know if your collagen levels are low?
Signs of depleting collagen levels:
- Weaker joints, discomfort, swelling
- Weaker muscles, losing muscle mass
- Skin texture appearing rougher, less elastic, wrinkled skin, cellulite
- GI problems from weak lining becoming permeable
What Collagen actually does in the body:
Collagen has nearly 20 amino acids that have distinct duties in the body. More specifically, amino acids like Proline, Glycine, Glutamine, & Arginine help with cardiovascular repair and circulation, wound healing and cellular rejuvenation, joint protection, DNA integrity, muscle growth, GI function, immune support, and mood changes like anxiety, insomnia, stress, and overall concentration. Basically, collagen has loads of benefits that support the whole body, not just for cosmetic enhancement.
Skin Health: boosting collagen supply can lead to a more youthful appearance. Adequate collagen can help slow the natural aging process by promoting skin hydration and healing. Wrinkles appear less visible as the collagen matrix supports firm smooth skin. Cellulite even becomes less visible by strengthening underlying tissue.
Joint Health: collagen allows joints to be flexible and glide with ease during physical movement. Low collagen levels allow joints to become weaker and less flexible, allowing cartilage to wear down over time. This leads to osteoarthritis, which is known to cause joint stiffness and discomfort. Simply put, collagen is like WD40 for your joints
Gut Health: poor dietary intake can disrupt the integrity of our protective lining in the GI tract. Especially a diet high in sugar (refined carbohydrates and grains) can weaken this barrier, allowing toxins to pass through the gut into the bloodstream. Collagen can protect this barrier and even improve GI symptoms from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s, and even acid reflux.
How you can increase your collagen supply:
You can increase your collagen supply primarily through diet and supplements.
Natural collagen sources are typically from protein sources like beef, chicken, beans, egg whites, fish, dairy products, citrus fruits, as well as greens, bell peppers, avocado, and nuts. Bone broth is a great way to get collagen and you can make this at home by simmering bones for 1-2 days in a crockpot. This removes the natural collagen from the bone and infuses it into a flavorful broth.
Dietary collagen generally supports your body to make new collagen. However, the process of creating new collagen isn’t as robust as we get older. Available collagen must go through a process to convert the collagen into a usable form. This process requires Vitamin C, Zinc, and Copper, which are usually abundant in our diet. Here’s the kicker, again with the aging process, we lose the ability to absorb these essential vitamins and minerals to stimulate the process of collagen synthesis. So even with an abundant collagen supply, aging is working against our ability to maintain healthy levels. That’s why I prefer taking a supplement.
Vital Proteins Original Collagen Peptides is a great supplement that also has added Vitamin C. Unflavored so easy to mix in just about anything!
What a collagen supplement can do for you:
- Strengthens bone density to help reduce premature bone breakdown
- Supports joint structures to reduce risk of osteoarthritis, improves joint discomfort
- Helps build muscle & boosts metabolism to ensure muscles have an adequate energy supply
- Improves skin elasticity and texture, reduces fine lines & wrinkles
- Supports the GI tract lining and gut microbiome
- Strengthens hair and nails & improves elasticity to reduce breakage
Another great supplement that I use is Great Lakes Collagen because it provides all the essential amino acids and it’s tasteless so you can add it to just about anything. What’s even better, is it’s simple and easy, just a scoop or two in your morning beverage, and you’re set for the day!
What about topical collagen agents?
Collagen topical agents, such as face creams, aren’t as effective since they do not absorb into the deeper skin layers. To reach the deep foundation of your skin, you must ingest your collagen and absorb it from the inside for optimal results. Just another reason to get more bang for your buck and put your money towards a collagen supplement versus an expensive face cream.
Therefore, taking a daily collagen supplement can help prevent premature aging and help combat certain diseases to promote optimal wellness throughout the lifespan. Only 2 scoops to your favorite morning drink and you’re on your way to a more youthful future.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is designed for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. This information should not be used to diagnose or treat any health conditions without consulting your healthcare provider. Information used is based on experience and opinion, not 100% evidence. Always consult with a health care practitioner before relying on any information in this article or on this website.