Of all the proteins in the body, collagen is the most plentiful. This one protein has a mass effect on many parts of our form and function and helps the blood clot and gives structure to our skin. One of the body’s primary building blocks is collagen anchors, skin, bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. It’s even found in our blood vessels, corneas, and teeth – Basically, collagen is the glue that keeps us together.
While found in the body, collagen is used in manufacturing medicine. For centuries, collagen was used to create glue by melting down horse hooves while creating strings for musical instruments. Collagen is the central ingredient in Jell-O and is used to make sausage casings, too. As everyone knows, it’s widely used in plastic surgeries for lip and face fillers and is even used as a dressing for severe burns.
What does collagen do in the body?
There are four main types of collagens: I, II, III, and IV But, there are at least 16 types of collagens in various forms found inside of us. Each of these types affects the body and provides us with solid cartilage, beautiful skin, or strong teeth.
- Type I accounts for 90% of the body’s collagen, providing structure to skin, bones, fibrous cartilage, connective tissue, tendons, and teeth.
- Type II is made of loosely packed fibers, and it’s found in elastic cartilage, which cushions joints.
- Type III supports the structure of muscles, arteries, and organs.
- Type IV helps with filtration and is found in our skin layers.
Collagen and its relationship to the body
Everyone’s seen the ads for wrinkle creams or the much-ballyhooed “effects of aging,” and one of the first places people turn to when trying to turn back the clock is collagen. When we age, our bodies produce less and lower-quality collagen, and we see it most clearly in the skin, which becomes looser and less supple. The same goes with cartilage, which weakens as the years’ tick past.
What nutrients increase collagen production?
The body makes procollagen when two amino acids — glycine and proline, combine. All types of collagens start as procollagen.
To increase collagen, it’s critical to have a steady regimen of nutrients such as:
- Vitamin C (fruits and vegetables)
- Proline (egg whites, wheat germ, dairy, cabbage, asparagus, mushrooms)
- Glycine (pork skin, chicken skin, gelatin)
- Copper (organ meats, sesame seeds, cocoa, cashews, lentils)
- Bone broth
- Gelatin (Yes, even Jell-O)
If you’re trying to increase collagen, make sure that your diet includes a high protein intake to get new amino acids. A mixture of increased amino acid intake with these essential nutrients might help the body create new collagen to strengthen joints and prevent aging.
What damages collagen?
- Too much sugar
- Refined carbs
- Smoking cigarettes
- Spending too much time in the sun
- Benefits of collagen supplements
Typically, there are two primary collagen sources:
- Hydrolyzed collagen (collagen hydrolysate)
- Gelatin – created when collagen is cooked
Both break the large protein down into smaller peptides, which are more easily absorbed. Some of the believed benefits include:
- Muscle mass
- Skin elasticity
- Leaky gut syndrome
- Safety and side effects
The information on collagen supplement effects on the body is continually being researched, with new data coming out more frequently. Some of the potential side effects have been shown to include a lingering unpleasant taste and sensations of heaviness and heartburn. It’s also best to make sure you’re not allergic to collagen supplements, either.
How to supplement collagen
Collagen peptide comes in a powder, added to drinks or most foods. Because the peptide doesn’t gel, you can mix it into various options like soups, baked goods, smoothies, or sauces. There’s always gummies, and everyone’s favorite childhood treat, Jell-O, in all its multiple flavors when it comes to gelatin.
If you’re considering taking collagen supplements, always look for a high-quality source of collagen, which is found in pill or powder form.
If you’re considering taking a collagen supplement, it’s always suggested to speak with a professional to help with dosage and see if taking collagen supplements is right for you. If you’re interested in learning more, we’d love to answer questions you may have and help get you on the road to a happier, healthier lifestyle.