The Benefits of Collagen for Health and Beauty
By Jacquelyn Nause
Collagen is a protein that helps your skin, nails, bones and connective tissue stay healthy. It gives you plump, smooth skin with a radiant bounce. The bad news is that collagen production slows as you age, but don’t despair. Research shows some promising effects from collagen supplementation.
Collagen is Essential
You’ve likely heard a lot about the touted benefits of collagen, but what about the buzz concerning beauty and wellness? The truth is, this is one wellness trend that may have some definite advantages.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, making up over 75 percent of your connective tissues, and more than 70 percent of your skin. There are at least 16 types of collagen, the most plentiful in the body being types 1 to 3. Collagen is important for skin elasticity as well as joint, brain and heart health.
While collagen is present in hundreds of topical beauty treatments, you’re likely to best capture its benefits if you consume it. Most sources of collagen are animal-based and include bovine bone, fish, eggs and chicken. While a diet rich in amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein, helps boost collagen production, there are also environmental factors like UV rays, smoking and pollution that break down collagen.
Benefits of Collagen
Collagen is what gives your skin its structure and elasticity. As you age, a decrease in collagen is related to wrinkles and sagging skin as well as joint pain. Studies show that collagen peptide supplementation is effective in increasing skin hydration. Other studies indicate significant anti-aging effects from both oral and topical collagen supplementation. What’s key is that the effects of collagen supplements wear off after about 12 weeks, so long-term supplementation is necessary.
In addition to keeping your skin plump and radiant, collagen may help smooth cellulite. A study on the effect of type 1 collagen supplements on cellulite indicate not only an reduction in the degree of cellulite, but also showed improved dermal density compared to a placebo. The results were based on six months of supplement intake.
The benefits of collagen are more than skin deep, however. It’s possible that increasing your collagen intake can alleviate joint pain and symptoms of arthritis. Another study shows that type 2 collagen taken orally was effective in alleviating joint pain while improving the quality of life and functionality of the subjects.
While health experts and beauty gurus say that collagen may help improve gut health, protect your organs, increase hair growth and help create muscle, more studies are needed as anecdotal reports and early studies still show mixed results.
How to Add More Collagen to Your Life
Although you may know the benefits of collagen, you also have to pay attention to your intake. Certain foods, such as meat, eggs, peanuts, leafy greens and pumpkin seeds, help stimulate collagen production. Vitamins C, E and A also help with collagen production. Combine foods containing these vitamins and minerals to increase the absorption of collagen.
In addition to a well-balanced, high-protein diet, collagen peptides are an easy way to get your essential amino acids. You can add collagen powder to smoothies, hot drinks or baked goods.
As with any lifestyle change, you have to stick with it and give it some time to experience the effects of increasing your collagen intake.
Jacquelyn Nause is a contributing writer with specialties in plant-based diets, parenting and wellness. She enjoys traveling with her husband, being a doting mother to her two incredible kids and enjoying the beautiful Pacific Northwest playground.
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