The health benefits of collagen are immense, which makes sense because it's the most abundant protein in the human body. Collagen is found in:
- Skin, hair, and nails
- Tendons and ligaments
- Digestive tract
- Veins and arteries
- Teeth (dentin)
- Eyes (cornea and lens)
Thus, it's essential to maintaining optimal health.
The term collagen stems from the Greek word “kolla,” which means glue. This makes sense because its key responsibility is to provide structural integrity for a variety of tissues throughout the body.
Collagen Synthesis and Natural Decline
Symptoms such as wrinkles, loose skin, joint pain, and poor wound healing occur as we age due to a natural decrease in collagen production. This natural decline also increases the risk of heart disease and digestive dysfunction if damage to the arterial walls or intestinal tract occurs.
Your diet and lifestyle can also affect collagen synthesis. For example, the body needs an adequate supply of vitamin C and silica (trace mineral) among others to produce collagen. In addition, vitamin C is quickly depleted when your body is under stress.
High sugar diets, smoking, and prolonged sun exposure have also been shown to negatively impact or damage collagen in the body.
However, there are specific foods and supplements we can add to our diet to boost our synthesis of collagen. These include vitamin C and silica rich foods as well as bone broth, and collagen peptides, which I'll discuss in more detail shortly.
Health Benefits of Collagen
Supporting your body's natural production of collagen has many health benefits. Some key advantages include:
Skin: Collagen promotes firm skin. Thus, it's nature's perfect anti-wrinkle compound. And collagen will also help to reduce sagging skin, cellulite, and stretch marks. In addition, it helps to keep skin moist and smooth.
Hair and Nails: Collagen is the key structural component of your hair and nails. Thus, it keeps them from breaking. And this study suggests collagen may even help to prevent hair loss.
Joints: Collagen is a smooth substance that covers your bones and holds them together. Thus, it allows your joints to move with ease and without pain. Athletes may also benefit from collagen stimulating supplements to protect their joints from degeneration and improve their performance. Further, this study provides support for using collagen to effectively treat osteoarthritis and other joint disorders.
Digestive Tract: The key amino acids in collagen (i.e., glycine and proline) both nourish and heal the lining of the digestive tract. Thus, those suffering from gut-related disorders (i.e., leaky gut, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disorders, and reflux) may benefit significantly from consuming collagen. In fact, this study found that serum concentrations of collagen are reduced in those with inflammatory bowel disorders. It's also worth noting that since a large portion of the immune system resides in the gut, maintaining a healthy digestive tract is essential for immune health.
Muscles: One of the key roles of glycine is to help create energy to build muscle cells. And strong muscles are necessary to effectively support your bones, especially as we age. In addition, muscle cells are effective at burning body fat.
Heart Health: Proline helps to repair arterial wall damage as well as keep your arteries free from plaque. Thus, collagen reduces your risk of developing heart disease.
Boosting Your Synthesis of Collagen
Increasing your intake of vitamin C and silica is recommended to increase collagen production. This can be accomplished by eating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables each day. Silica is also found in oats.
Bone broth is a great source of glycine and proline needed to synthesize collagen. To learn more about bone broth as well as how to make it, please refer to this article.
When it comes to supplementation, I highly recommend Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides. It's rich in glycine and proline, and it's made from grass-fed, pasture-raised cows. Thus, it's free from hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides.
Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides come in a powder form with virtually no smell or flavor. They are highly digestible and soluble in both hot and cold liquids. Thus, you can simply add a scoop or two a day to the following:
- Tea or coffee
- Fresh juice
- Soups and stews
- Sauces and gravies
Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body and is essential for vibrant health inside and out. Its synthesis naturally declines as we age, which is why I often recommend supplementing with Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides.
Adding collagen peptides to your diet promotes youthful skin and strong hair, bones, muscles, joints, and teeth. It also protects your heart, boosts immunity, and improves digestive health.