You might know that collagen is the most abundant protein in your body. In fact, it is the major component of connective tissues that make up several of your body parts. Collagen also makes up the tendons, ligaments, skin, and muscles in your body.
Collagen has several important functions in the human body. It includes providing your skin with structure and strengthening your bones.
In recent years, collagen supplements have become highly popular. Most of these supplements are hydrolyzed. Meaning the collagen has been broken down, making it easier for the human body to absorb it. In addition, there are also several foods you can eat to increase your collagen intake, particularly pork skin and bone broth.
You should note that consuming collagen might have a variety of health benefits. These could include relieving joint pain to improve skin health. In this article we discuss science-backed health benefits of taking collagen supplements especially for your skin.
Health Benefits of Collagen
Collagen is primarily a protein responsible for healthy joints and also skin elasticity, or stretchiness. Collagen is in your muscles, bones, and blood, comprising three quarters of your skin. One third of the protein in your body is collagen.
As you age, your existing collagen in the body breaks down. Moreover, it gets harder for your body to produce more when you grow older. As a result, many individuals turn to collagen supplements. These supplements are usually powders. Although you can also find them in the form of capsules and liquid supplements.
Collagen is also produced naturally in the body by combining amino acids. These building blocks of proteins are found in food. To produce collagen, your body needs the following substances:
- Vitamin C: found in citrus fruits and bell peppers.
- Proline: found in egg whites, cabbage, dairy, mushrooms, and asparagus.
- Glycine: found in pork skin, chicken skin, and gelatin, and a variety of other protein-rich foods
- Copper: found in organ meats, cocoa powder, sesame seeds, cashews, and lentils
- Zinc: found in beef, lamb, pork, shellfish, chickpeas, lentils, beans, milk, cheese, and various nuts and seeds
Collagen Supplements Can Improve Skin Health
Do you know that collagen is a major component of your skin? It plays a vital role in strengthening skin, and also benefits elasticity and hydration. With age, your body produces less and less of collagen. There this leads to dry skin and the formation of wrinkles on the skin surface.
However, some studies have shown that collagen supplements or collagen peptides containing collagen might help slow the aging of your skin. As a result reducing wrinkles and dryness when you grow older.
In one study, women who took a supplement containing collagen for 8 weeks experienced less skin dryness. In addition, the women also noticed a significant increase in skin elasticity. The differences were noticeable compared with those who did not take the supplement.
Another study found that those women who drank a beverage mixed with a collagen supplement noticed several benefits. They consumed supplements daily for 12 weeks and had increased skin hydration and a significant reduction in wrinkle depth compared to the control group.
It meant the wrinkle-reducing effects of collagen supplements have been attributed to their ability to stimulate your body to produce collagen on its own.
Additionally, if you take collagen supplements it might promote the production of other proteins that will help structure your skin. Even elastin and fibrillin. In most tissues, fibrillin microfibrils closely associate with elastin to form elastic fibers, the key component of your skin.
There are also many claims that collagen supplements can help prevent acne and other commonly occurring skin conditions. But note that these are not supported by scientific evidence.
Foods that Contain Collagen
Collagen is mainly found in the connective tissues of animals. Thus, foods like chicken skin, beef, pork skin, and fish are a rich source of collagen. Foods that contain gelatin, like bone broth also provide collagen. Gelatin is a protein substance primarily derived from collagen after it has been cooked.
However, more research is required to determine whether eating collagen-rich foods could actually help increase collagen in your body. In addition, there has been no studies to support that collagen-rich foods have the same benefits as collagen supplements.
Your digestive enzymes easily break down the collagen in the food into individual peptides and amino acids. However, the collagen in the supplements have already been broken down, or hydrolyzed. Therefore, you can absorb the collagen in the supplements more faster and efficiently than the collagen in your foods.
Side Effects of Collagen Supplements
As of today not many people known about the risks associated with taking collagen supplements. However, some collagen supplements are made from common food allergens, like eggs, fish, and shellfish.
Individuals who have allergies to these foods should avoid collagen supplements made using these ingredients. As taking these supplements can prevent allergic reactions.
Some also complain that collagen supplements leave a lingering bad taste in the mouth. It is probably because they are made from egg and fish products.
Additionally, collagen supplements have the potential to cause digestive side effects, which could be feelings of heartburn and fullness. Regardless, these dietary supplements appear to be safe for most people.
Side effects of collagen supplements are rare. In case you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you might want to hold off on taking a collagen supplement. This is to be on the safe side. Probably because as not not enough research has been carried out in this area.
Healthier Alternatives of Collagen Supplements
The effects of collagen supplements are still being researched and debated. Instead of purchasing and having these supplements, you can always help your body make more collagen naturally. You can do this by ensuring your diet is packed with healthy fruits and vegetables. Many also opt for taking collagen injections.
To produce collagen your body will put the amino acids glycine and proline together with other amino acids like vitamin C, copper , and zinc.
So you can help your body produce more collagen by eating lots of proline–rich foods like chicken, fish, beef, dairy, eggs, and beans. For zinc, vitamin C, and copper, you should also try to include foods like tomatoes, citrus fruits, leafy greens, shellfish, nuts, and whole grains.
The Bottom line
Remember taking collagen is often associated with a number of health benefits and very few known risks. The basic advantage may be to improve skin health by reducing dryness and wrinkles.
They may also prevent bone loss, help increase muscle mass, and relieve joint pain. People have reported several other benefits of collagen supplements, but these claims have not been studied much.