› What is it?
Collagen is the major component of connective tissues in the body, including tendons, ligaments, skin, muscles, blood vessels, corneas and teeth. It accounts for about a third of the total protein found in the human body.
› Health benefits
Studies on collagen supplements show promise in several areas:
· Skin: Collagen is a major component of skin, and collagen supplements may help reduce wrinkles and dryness while improving skin elasticity, all of which can make skin look younger.
· Muscles: A study in elderly men showed that adding collagen peptide supplements to a strength-training regimen improved muscle mass more than placebo.
· Arthritis: A study of people with osteoarthritis showed that those who took collagen supplements experienced a significant decline in pain.
· Bones: Studies have shown that collagen supplementation may inhibit the bone loss that leads to osteoporosis.
› How much do I need?
So far, there’s not much reliable information about the dosing for collagen supplements or their safety. If you’re allergic to the source of the supplement—such as fish—then you could have an allergic reaction to collagen derived from it. Be sure to follow directions on product labels, and consult your pharmacist, physician, or other healthcare professional before using.
› In food
Just as in humans, collagen is found in the connective tissues of animals. It’s consumed in chicken and pork skin, for example, as well as bone broth, which is made by extracting the nutrients from animal bones. It’s unclear whether eating collagen-rich foods contributes directly to increased levels of collagen in the body.
It’s possible to increase the amount of collagen your own body makes. Ensure that you get enough vitamin C, proline, glycine, copper and amino acids, and avoid sugar, refined carbs and excessive sunlight.
› Dietary supplements
Collagen supplements are found in three main forms: hydrolyzed collagen, in which the collagen is broken down into amino acids; gelatin, which is cooked collagen that is partially broken down into amino acids; and raw, in which the collagen protein remains intact. Hydrolyzed collagen may be absorbed by the body most efficiently. Most collagen supplements are sourced from animals, usually cows, pigs and fish.
Please consult your health care provider before making changes to your vitamin/supplement regimen.