Everyone seems to be talking about collagen and collagen supplements. But what even is collagen and are the supplements safe? Well, we put the hard work in for you and found all of the answers to your questions.
What Is Collagen?
Collagen is a type of protein that is found naturally in your skin. It’s what keeps your skin looking youthful and elastic, and it’s also responsible for healthy joints. Collagen is also in your bones, muscles and blood. Honestly, it’s absolutely everywhere, as it comprises 75% of your skin and a third of the protein in your body.
But as you age—especially after 40—the existing collagen in your body starts to break down and get lazy. It gets increasingly harder for your body to produce more of it. When your body produces less collagen, the result will be dry skin and the formation of wrinkles. This is why collagen supplements have become so popular.
“By the time you hit age 40, things like hyaluronic acid and elastin in the cells get lazy over time,” said dermatologist Dr. Emily Arsenault. “The level of production reduces by 25 percent, and that doubles by the age of 60.”
Because collagen makes up 75% of the dry weight of your skin, it’s a major factor in your skin’s appearance. As your body starts to lose collagen and stops naturally making it, your skin will become thinner as you get older.
Potential Health Benefits Of Collagen
We’ve already talked about how beneficial collagen is for your skin, but that’s not all it can do. The commonly cited benefits of collagen are:
- Stronger Bones
- Better Muscle Mass
- Promotes Heart Health
- Gut Health
- Weight Loss
- Brain Health
Using Collagen Supplements
If you feel like you need an extra boost of collagen, you can always take some collagen supplements. There are also very few risks.
Some collagen powders are made with common food allergens, like fish, shellfish and eggs, so watch out for allergies. Collagen supplements can also cause some digestive issues, like heartburn and feelings of bloat. And some people have also reported that a bad taste is left in their mouths.
However, collagen supplements are typically safe for most people. But if you have any questions or concerns, you should definitely consult a doctor.
What To Look For When Buying Collagen Supplements
There are a lot of collagen supplements on the market, so it’s always a good idea to consult your doctor before deciding to take any supplement. But we are here to help as much as we can!
There are three types of collagen that are generally found in stores. Type 1 and type 3 are used for skin benefits, while type 2 is used for cartilage and joint health.
For a high-quality product, look for collagen that comes from sources like bovine, pork or fish. You’ll also want collagen that’s grass-fed, pasture-raised bovine or made from wild-caught marine sources. Currently, there are no vegan sources available.
Nutritionist Olivia Pelaez also says to “make sure your collagen supplement contains vitamin C.” This is because “the presence of this important vitamin is necessary for collagen synthesis.”
Producing Collagen The Natural Way
However, if you don’t feel safe taking supplements, rest assured knowing you can naturally produce collagen, too.
To produce collagen on its own, you need to include the below in your diet:
- Proline from egg whites, dairy, asparagus, mushrooms and cabbage
- Vitamin C from citrus fruits and bell peppers
- Glycine found in pork skin and chicken skin
- Zinc from beef, lamb, pork, shellfish, chickpeas, milk, cheese, beans and numerous nuts and seeds
- Copper found in organ meats, lentils, sesame seeds, cashews and cocoa powder
However, the most effective way to preserve the natural collagen you have left in your body is to protect yourself from the sun. When you’re catching rays, they will permeate the epidermis and get into the dermis where collagen lives. The best way to protect your skin is to consistently wear sunscreen, as well as protective clothing.