Unless you have been living under a rock you have probably heard or seen the word “collagen” recently more frequently than ever before. Why does it seem like everyone is talking about collagen and collagen supplements? Why do you see it at every organic market, and health food store? And, most importantly, what the heck even is collagen and why is everyone taking it?
Turns out, there are a lot of good reason why collagen products have taken the world by storm – we will discuss some of the key reasons below as well as give you some basic information you should know when deciding which and if collagen products are right for you.
Okay, so What is Collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein found within the human body. It is found in your bones, skin, muscles, and tendons. Think of collagen as the glue that holds your body together, and the frame that provides these aspects of your body with strength and structure.
Collagen is a fibrous protein that makes up roughly a third of all the protein in your body. Even more surprising is that some types of collagen fibrils, gram-for-gram, are even stronger than steel! This means you can rest easy knowing what holds you together is strong and stable.
Most often, the molecules that make up collagen are packed together forming long, thin fibrils. These serve as supporting structures, anchoring cells to one another, and giving your skin its strength and elasticity.
What Does Collagen Actually Do?
This plays a vital role in replacing and restoring dead skin cells and helps keep your skin tight and elastic.
Collagen is naturally secreted by various cells throughout your body, mostly the cells that make up connective tissue.
It is found in the extracellular matrix (a network of macromolecules that determine the physical properties of tissue). Specifically, in the dermis (middle layer of skin), collagen helps to form a fibrous network of cells called fibroblasts – from here new cells can grow. This plays a vital role in replacing and restoring dead skin cells and helps keep your skin tight and elastic.
Simply put collagen is responsible for keeping your skin young and glowing, your hair strong and healthy, and your joints functioning at the highest level.
Some collagen even serves as a protective layer, covering the more delicate organs in your body, like the kidneys.
So Why Take a Collagen Supplement?
Collagen is used in a variety of ways, everywhere from cosmetic procedures, to helping burn victims grow new and healthy skin, significantly speeding up their recovery time.
Recently collagen has become a very popular and common supplement taken by men and women for various reasons. You might be asking yourself, “if my body makes collagen, why would I supplement it?”
This is a great question and believe it or not the answer is actually very simple. With age, your body will produce less and less collagen. This is why you get wrinkles when you age and why joint cartilage becomes weaker and more brittle. Think of it like the scaffolding holding parts of your body together starts to fail as you age.
Women experience a much more dramatic reduction of collagen after menopause. By age 60 most women experience a significant decline in collagen production, and this is perfectly normal.
For these reasons, collagen is a great supplement to add to your daily regimen.
How Can I Prevent Collagen Loss?
Supplementation is by far the best way to take collagen in your system – and there are a lot of great products that are super simple to use (we will recommend our favorite later on in this article). Below you will find some other steps you can take to slow collagen loss.
- Proline: Found in eggs whites, meat, cheese, soy, and cabbage.
- Anthocyanidins: Found in blackberries, blueberries, cherries, and raspberries.
- Vitamin C: Found in oranges, kiwi, grapefruit, broccoli, and cauliflower.
- Copper: Found in shellfish, whole grains, nuts, organ meats, and dark leafy greens.
- Vitamin A: Found in cod liver oil, eggs, most orange and yellow veggies, and dark leafy greens as beta-carotene.
What Should I Avoid? What Damages Collagen?
There are a number of variables that can damage or even deplete the levels of collagen within your body such as:
- High Sugar Consumption
- Autoimmune disorders
- Genetic Changes
Make sure to check out the other great articles on collagen, like this one on collagen vs gelatin, which is better? Or this article on coffee and collagen, are they really a match made in heaven? Remember to share this article and leave a comment if you found it helpful.
If you are interested in trying collagen, check out our list of the best collagen protein products. Or check our list of the best multi collagen capsules.