By: Dean Esser & Craig Warrian
What is collagen?
Collagen is the most plentiful protein in your body, accounting for about 1/3 of its protein composition. Collagen is one of the major building blocks of bones, skin, muscles, tendons, cartilage, and ligaments. It is also found in many other body parts, including blood vessels, corneas, and teeth.
You can think of it as the “glue” that holds all these things together. In fact, the word comes from the Greek word “kólla,” which means glue. Collagen is not regarded as an essential nutrient as our body produces some on its own.
Unfortunately, we don’t produce as much as we need. We also get collagen from our diet, but once again not enough to satisfy our needs. So, what types of collagen are there and how can we get more? There are 16 different types of collagen in your body, but the four most common our Type I, II, III, IV.
- Type I. This type accounts for 90% of your body’s collagen and is made of densely packed fibers. It provides structure to skin, bones, tendons, fibrous cartilage, connective tissue, and teeth.
- Type II. This type is made of more loosely packed fibers and found in elastic cartilage, which cushions your joints.
- Type III. This type supports the structure of muscles, organs, and arteries.
- Type IV. This type helps with filtration and is found in the layers of your skin.
As you age, your body produces lower quality collagen and less of it. One of the most visible signs of this is in your skin, which becomes less firm and supple. Cartilage also weakens with age. What nutrients help increase collagen production? All collagen starts off as procollagen. Your body makes procollagen by combining two amino acids — glycine and proline. This process uses vitamin C.
You may be able to help your body produce this important protein by making sure you get plenty of the following nutrients:
- Vitamin C. Supplement with Vitamin C or eat foods such as citrus fruits, bell peppers, and strawberries.
- Proline. Large amounts are found in egg whites, cabbage, asparagus, and mushrooms.
- Glycine. Can be found in various protein-containing foods.
In addition, your body needs high quality protein that contains the amino acids needed to make new proteins. Beef, poultry, and seafood are all excellent sources of amino acids. What are the benefits of collagen?
Improves Skin Health:
Collagen is a major component of your skin and a role in strengthening skin, plus may benefit elasticity and hydration. As you age, your body produces less collagen, leading to dry skin and the formation of wrinkles. However, several studies have shown that supplementing collagen may help slow the aging of your skin by reducing wrinkles and dryness. The wrinkle-reducing effects of collagen supplements have been attributed to their ability to stimulate your body to produce collagen on its own.
Helps Relieve Joint Pain:
Collagen helps maintain the integrity of your cartilage, which is the rubber-like tissue that protects your joints. As the amount of collagen in your body decreases as you get older, your risk of developing degenerative joint disorders increases. Some studies have shown that taking collagen supplements may help improve symptoms of osteoarthritis and reduce joint pain overall. They have suggested this may lead to lower inflammation, better support of your joints, and reduced pain. Try taking collagen supplement before activity to help prime tendons and joints to help maximize the absorption during your favourite workout.
Could Prevent Bone Loss:
Your bones are made mostly of collagen, which gives them structure and helps keep them strong.
Just as the collagen in your body deteriorates as you age, so does bone mass. This may lead to conditions like osteoporosis. Studies have shown that taking collagen supplements may have certain effects in the body that help inhibit the bone breakdown that leads to osteoporosis.
Could Boost Muscle Mass:
Between 1–10% of muscle tissue is composed of collagen. This protein is necessary to keep your muscles strong and functioning properly. Studies suggest that collagen supplements help boost muscle mass and prevent in people with the loss of muscle mass that happens with age. Researchers have suggested that taking collagen may promote the synthesis of muscle proteins like creatine, as well as stimulate muscle growth after exercise.
Promotes Heart Health:
Collagen provides structure to your arteries, which are the blood vessels that carry blood from your heart to the rest of your body. Without enough collagen, arteries may become weak and fragile.
Hair and Nails:
Taking collagen may increase the strength and health of your nails by preventing brittleness and improving their structure. Additionally, it may stimulate your hair and nails to grow faster.
Although there is no scientific evidence to support this claim, some health practitioners promote the use of collagen supplements to treat intestinal permeability, or leaky gut syndrome, as the gut contains a large amount of collagen.
Glycine (a major component of collagen) is at work when it comes to sleep improvement. Glycine improves the production of serotonin, which is a necessary component for the sleep hormone melatonin. When consumed in the evening, glycine drops your body’s temperature which improves your sleep quality.
No studies have examined the role of collagen supplements in brain health. However, many people claim they improve mood and reduce symptoms of anxiety. Many believe the supplementation of collagen and corresponding sleep improvement can and does improve your overall brain health and performance.
Some believe that taking collagen supplements may promote weight loss and a faster metabolism. There have not been any studies to support these claims.
Collagen is an important protein that provides structure for many parts of the body. Interestingly, the foods and nutrients you eat can help your body make this protein.
Looking to supplement with collagen? Ewyn Studios has a multi-source collagen with vitamin C and more! If you want all the above mentioned benefits from collagen, head to your local Ewyn studio and they’ll help you find Exactly What You Need!