Collagen is found in the skin, bones, muscles, ligaments, connective tissue and is responsible for providing us with structural support and elasticity (both muscular and skin)!
As we age, our bodies naturally produce less and less collagen. This is why it’s critical to make sure that we not only consume enough collagen when we’re young, but also as we age.
What exactly is collagen?
Known as the glue that holds us together, collagen is a protein that makes up about one third of the protein in our bodies and 70% of the protein of our skin. In other words, it’s safe to say it is pretty important! It is most commonly known for it’s role in skin health, but it is essential for so much more than that.
4 Surprising Health Benefits of Collagen Protein
- Improves Skin, Hair, and Nails
The reason that collagen is so crucial for skin health (and why it’s most commonly associated with skin) is because it is “…required in the replacement and restoration of dead skin cells. Some collagens also function as protective coverings for delicate organs in the body such as the kidneys.” (Source)
Since collagen is one of the primary building blocks of our nails, it also helps to strengthen nails, which is one of the biggest differences I noticed from regularly consuming collagen (see below)
- Supports Bone & Joint Health
As collagen makes up one-third of the protein in our bodies, it plays important roles in bone and joint health. In fact, “several studies on collagen, which represents 90% of organic bone mass, suggest that orally administering collagen peptides may provide beneficial effects on bone metabolism, especially in the calcium-deficient condition such as osteopenia, without obvious undesirable effects. Several studies show that a daily intake of 10g of collagen peptides for 4 to 24 weeks may increase bone mass density” (1)
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It can also be beneficial in soothing joint pain. One study “…demonstrated a positive effect on knee joint comfort with a dose of 10g of collagen peptides per day. The effect was even more pronounced in patients suffering more severe symptoms.” (2)
- Increases Athletic Performance and Recovery
“Collagen supplements are the perfect protein to consume before and after exercise, helping to maintain and restore the protein content of muscle. Collagen peptides, which consists of 20% glycine and 8% arginine, may help the synthesis of creatine in the body. Creatine has been shown to help improve performance during short periods of exercise, thus helping athletes to increase their body mass and reduce body fat percentage.” (3)
- Improves Digestion and Promotes Gut Health
The specific amino acids in collagen help to heal and soothe the gut, leading to greater absorption of water and nutrients.
The benefits of collagen seem to be countless, so let’s talk about some ways you can ensure you’re getting enough of this health-promoting nutrient!
Excellent Sources of Collagen
- Bone Broth
Bone broth (I like this one) is high in gelatin (which is just cooked collagen), along with many other healing nutrients like glycine, calcium, and magnesium. Consuming bone broth on a regular basis is an incredibly powerful tool for gut health. Dr. Kellyann Petrucci, an expert and advocate for bone broth, speaks about the benefits of bone broth saying,
“…When you eat gelatin, you replenish your body with collagen—which fights wrinkles, strengthens bones, ligaments, and muscles, nourishes organs, restores luster to hair, makes nails strong, bolsters the immune system, and even heals your gut and reduces inflammation.” (Source)
- Collagen & Gelatin Supplements
This is my preferred method of ensuring that I get enough collagen, simply because I know I’m likely to consume this more regularly than bone broth. My favorite is this jar. I toss it in my daily smoothie and it doesn’t change the flavor or texture at all. It’s perfect before or after exercise, too!
Unlike many mainstream collagen supplements, which use poor processing and sourcing/quality, Vital Proteins sources their collagen and gelatin from pasture-raised bovine in Brazil, where the cattle graze on lush grasslands in Brazil and are not given hormones, steroids, or antibiotics. (*This is key. You don’t want a collagen supplement from conventionally/unsustainably raised cows.)
Vital Proteins are different from other collagen supplement brands because they are:
- rBGH free, and
- no additives!
They also have Marine Collagen which is suitable for vegetarians. It is from wild-caught, non-GMO Project Verified snapper. (Yes, genetically modified fish is actually a thing now- yikes!)
After taking this regularly (about 2 scoops 1-2 times/day for one month), I noticed that my nails were much stronger and my hair looked much healthier. I’ll definitely be keeping this in my routine, along with some homemade bone broth whenever possible.
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The Collagen Beauty Greens supplement is mixed with a powerful blend of superfood greens. I found that this one had a stronger taste which was harder to mask than the unflavored collagen peptides, but it does offer the benefit of those nutrient-dense greens.
Collagen is absolutely essential for optimum health. From athletic performance, skin health, and gut healing to bone and joint health, it’s not surprising that collagen makes up one third of the protein in our bodies. This is why it’s important to make sure we are getting adequate (and quality!) collagen.
Have you taken collagen? If so, share your experience below!
Sources and Additional Reading:
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Hannah is the founder and health educator at Healthfully Hannah, empowering women to live healthfully through science-based, step-by-step guidance. Read Hannah’s personal health journey that led her to discover the power of Functional Medicine and Nutrition. Feel free to send Hannah a message here.
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