Up until a few months ago, when I heard the word collagen I immediately thought of my "hair, skin, and nails" gummy vitamin I used to get from Costco. I didn't know much about it to be honest, but just trusted it was good for me.
Well, it's actually a lot more beneficial than I originally thought - but maybe not in the sugary gummy form (darnit haha).
So what is collagen? And what are its benefits? You might be surprised to see all that it does for our body, I know I was.
What is it?
Collagen is the main structural protein found in our skin & other connective tissues - it's actually the most abundant protein in our body. It's made up of 19 different amino acids (both essential and nonessential).
Collagen is found in our muscles, bones, tendons, skin, blood vessels, and our digestive system.
It provides strength and elasticity, replaces dead skin cells, and basically helps hold our body together.
What can cause a collagen deficiency?
Aging - we will naturally produce less and less collagen as we get older. We see this in the form of wrinkles, sagging skin, and joint pain.
A poor diet & lifestyle - excess sugar, alcohol, smoking, and high amounts of sun exposure.
An unhealthy gut - you won't be able to effectively synthesize collagen.
What are the benefits?
Reduces cellulite and stretch marks. When you decrease the elasticity of your skin, your cellulite will be more visible.
Improved joint, ligament, and tendon health. A deficiency in collagen will cause our tendons and ligaments to move with less ease. This causes stiffness and swollen joints. So that said, collagen will decrease the risk of joint deteriation. Do you have arthrits? Collagen supplementation is an effective treatment.
A healthy gut - collagen is beneficial for someone with leaky gut syndrome because it can soothe and heal the gut lining. Did you know that many illnesses today are linked to an unhealthy gut? Especially autoimmune diseases such as IBS, Crohn's Disease, and Ulcerative Colitis. In addition, when we have Intestinal Permeability Syndrome (or Leaky Gut), toxins and undigested food can enter the bloodstream when it's NOT supposed to, triggering the immune system inflammatory cascade (AKA choas).
Helps build lean muscle mass. This can increase your metabolism because lean muscle mass burns more calories than fat. Collagen can help convert essential nutrients as well. Finally, retaining muscle mass as you age is essential to support posture and bone health.
Slows the effects of aging. Collagen can improve the body's use of antioxidants and helps create new cells by supporting the DNA to RNA conversion. It also aids in wound healing.
Nail, hair, and teeth health - because collagen is their building blocks. Some studies have even shown the possibility to reverse signs of hair loss.
Liver health. Collagen helps minimize the damage your liver experiences when it absorbs foreign substances (i.e.: medications), toxins, or alcohol passing through it.
Cardiovascular health. It can help release fat buildup in the bloodstream and shrinks fat found in the arteries. Collagen can even help control blood pressure. It also helps prevent arteriosclerosis (which is hardening of the arteries) because it helps our arteries stay clear of plaque buildup. Finally, it helps with nitric oxide production, which allows for better vasodilation = better circulation.
Enhanced fitness performance. You can increase your fitness goals with collagen supplementation because it helps rebuild, recover and perform with stronger ligament and muscle health. This allows for a safer workout as well.
Sources of Collagen:
In our food: you will find it in food high in protein such as beef, chicken, fish, and eggs.
You can also use supplementation, which is what I do daily. I use Vital Proteins, a company that provides natural and sustainable-sourced products. My favorites are their Vanilla Collagen Creamer and their Collagen Peptides (which I put in just about everything I can). They have both bovine (cattle) and marine (fish) collagen options.
Uses of Collagen Peptides?
In my coffee, smoothies, baking dishes, muffins, bars, soups, pancakes, etc.!
I recommend supplementing daily for about 8 weeks to notice results. Trust me, you'll be addicted soon enough! I've seen incredible results in my hair, skin, nails, and fitness performance. THAT would be good enough for me to keep supplementing, but knowing that it's also helping with my heart & liver health, slowing the effects of aging, protecting my posture and joint health, etc. just makes it that much better.
Let me know if you have any questions regarding collagen or how to supplement with it. I can't wait to hear what you think!