Whether you are an athlete, trying to get better skin, or looking to improve bone health, there is one supplement you need to know about – collagen.
At a wonderful outdoor breakfast in Nantucket, Massachusetts, I first discovered collagen as a supplement, and it came in the form of pancakes, waters, and lattes at the matcha, with special (tasteless!) powdered supplements from a brand called Vital proteins. It was also the first time I had heard of “collagen” in the healthcare world without any reference to needles or fillers – in fact, there were more stats on athletes and runners. Let’s just say that I was more than intrigued.
Collagen is found naturally in the body and is essential for the structure and elasticity of our tissues, but its production decreases with age (… Yayyyy). While collagen is found in animal protein that you can eat naturally (like beef, for example), it is usually not found in the cuts of meat that you would want to eat. Collagen comes from connective tissue – what you cut disabled your meat, generally. Eat boneless, skinless chicken breast? It’s not exactly loaded with collagen. That’s okay, we don’t want to eat away at the bones and tendons either.
There are also certain foods you can eat (turmeric is a good one) to increase your body’s natural collagen production, but you won’t get the same bulk as with a supplement.
Supplements deliver collagen or collagen peptides to your body in a way that can directly increase your levels. The benefits of collagen supplementation are quite impressive and widely supported by science. Here are a few reasons to consider refueling with this fundamental protein.
- For the skin. Multiple studies have shown the beneficial effects of collagen supplements on the skin. A study in 2013 showed that consumption collagen supplements reduce signs of aging, and another noted a significant improvement in skin elasticity.
- For your bones and joints. A 2008 study showed “improvement of joint pain in athletes“with a collagen dietary supplement. The same study also noted that collagen supplements were found to be beneficial for patients with osteoarthritis. Another study observed the growth of rat bones and concluded that collagen increase bone mass – something to think about, because women struggle more than men with bone density. Thanks genetics!
- For athletic performance. Collagen is a protein; adding collagen to your diet also means adding protein. For example, adding two scoops of a collagen supplement like Vital Protein Collagen Peptides adds 18 grams of extra protein to everything you eat and drink. Adding protein helps with muscle repair and building, recovery, and satiety, helping you exercise better and feel better.
- For your gut. Naturopathic Doctor Dr Josh Ax Says Collagen May Help Heal leaky gut syndrome – a medical condition that can cause food sensitivity, digestive problems and a host of other physical ailments. We’ve seen more and more about it on health blogs like Paleoleap.com, but have not yet seen scientific research. Overall, it doesn’t seem like there are any harmful side effects, so it can’t hurt to give it a try, especially since collagen is even easier to digest than gelatin.
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Ericka McConnell