Collagen in a Nutshell

Collagen in a Nutshell

It seems like everybody is talking about collagen these days, and for a good reason! To help you get up to speed on this hot anti-aging health and beauty trend, here’s what you need to know collagen… what it is, where it comes from, and most importantly –why it’s so vital for looking and feeling terrific!

What Is Collagen?

Collagen is a protein; the most abundant kind in the human body. In fact, different kinds of collagen molecules make up about one-third of the total protein in the human body. It is found all over, especially in the bones, skin, muscles, and tendons. You can think of collagen as the stuff that binds your entire body together. It forms a firm yet flexible foundation to provide structure as well as strength to the skeleton and surrounding tissue. It is the substance that connects cells and gives skin elasticity as well as strength.

To get a sense of what collagen is, touch the area underneath your cheekbone. The substance just underneath the skin here is collagen. How does it feel when you press in on this area? Is it firm like it is on a child, or soft and squishy?

The sad news is that as we age, we lose collagen. This is why this (and many other areas) get progressively softer as we get older and the skin on top starts to sag as there’s less collagen to hold it up.

Are You Collagen Deficient? 5 Good Reasons to Add Collagen to Your Health & Beauty Regimen

There are a little more than a dozen kinds of collagen proteins [1], although most fall into types I, II, or III. Collagen molecules pack together in “fibrils,” which are long, thin fibrous formations. Collagen proteins are very sturdy. Some types, especially type I, are packed so tightly on the molecular level they are said to be “as hard as steel.”
Collagen is vital for maintaining the structure and integrity of your entire body. Here are a few specific reasons why it’s so beneficial:

#1 – Strong Cartilage and Muscles.

Cartilage is a type of connective tissue that is made up of collagen [2]. Your nose, earlobes, and joints are vital points on your body that are made up of this tissue. When you lack collagen, joint instability, stiffness, and pain can result.
Likewise, muscles need cartilage to adhere themselves to the ends of bones. This is why muscle aches are one of the most common complaints of individuals with low collagen levels.

#2 – Healthy Teeth.

Collagen is needed to keep teeth in place in the gums [3]. Loose teeth, toothache, sensitive teeth, and even tooth loss can result from a lack of collagen overall.

#3 – Thick Hair.

Collagen plays an important part in hair growth since it fills in the spaces around each hair follicle. One way to tell if you are collagen deficient is to notice the quality and state of your hair. Dull, thin hair is a sign of low collagen levels. Collagen also helps fight free radicals that can damage hair.

#4 – Smooth Skin.

Wrinkling and cellulite are other unfortunate results of low collagen in the body. Not enough collagen means skin begins to lose elasticity and sag, causing those pesky wrinkles as we age.
Cellulite is another telltale sign of low collagen. The special makeup of this protein helps keep skin taut around the frame. Lack of collagen causes the skin sometimes to pucker and become thin and weak, allowing liquid to build up under the skin’s surface which results in the appearance of cellulite.
A 2015 Brazilian study [4] found that women who took collagen peptide supplements for six months had marked improvement in moderate cellulite conditions.

#5 – Good Gut Health.

Finally, the newest research on collagen is connecting it to the healthy functioning of the digestive system. This is why many protocols for “healing the gut” these days involve collagen supplementation through bone broth or powders. In a nutshell, collagen helps heal the gut because of its ability to “seal the gut.” Leaky gut has been linked to autoimmune conditions and neurological conditions like autism.
One of the latest in the dozens of studies that make the connection between gut health and autoimmune conditions is a joint U.S.-Italian study that found that “(i)n individuals with a genetic predisposition, a leaky gut may allow environmental factors to enter the body and trigger the initiation and development of autoimmune disease [5].”

How to Help Your Body Create Collagen Naturally

There are two basic kinds of collagen. The first is endogenous collagen, which is naturally produced and synthesized by the body. The other is exogenous collagen comes from an outside source such as pills and powders in supplement form as well as directly from animal products, such as bone broths.
Unfortunately, it is part of the “normal” aging process that by the time we reach around 30, our natural, endogenous collagen production begins to wane. For most people who chose to eat the Standard American Diet (SAD) and live a sedentary yet stressed-out lifestyle, it pretty much goes downhill from there.
As internally created collagen production lessens, the result is not only wrinkles and sagging skin, but also joint pain, aching muscles, blood pressure issues, digestive complications, and an increased susceptibility to many kinds of chronic disease.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel, however.
Before we go into the kinds of collagen that you can get from external sources, let’s first take a look at some natural ways to boost the effectiveness of your internal collagen production in your body. Yes, it is possible to increase your naturally occurring collagen levels, even as you age. As with any essential substance, it is always best to eat a diet and live a lifestyle that promotes the healthy synthesizing of your own natural healing and repair mechanisms. This goes for collagen production as well.

Sometimes it is easier to remember what not to do than what to do when it comes to health. This is the case with collagen. There are two foundational and vital rules to remember as the very first steps to upping collagen production in your body. First of all, don’t overdo it when it comes to exposing yourself to UV radiation from the sun. Secondly, if you smoke cigarettes, quit now!
There are also many whole foods which have collagen-boosting as part of their long list of benefits. Some of these include Aloe vera, ginseng, cilantro, and algae products like spirulina as well as foods that are high in vitamin C.
Keep in mind that collagen is a protein. This means it is made up of amino acids like arginine and glycine. Be sure you are eating a healthy, organic, whole foods diet that will allow you to replenish essential amino acids that form the building blocks for endogenous collagen production.

Finally, you must manage your stress! Studies have shown that high-stress states maintained over the long term can raise homocysteine levels [6], which in turn may affect the way collagen fibrils link together. This ultimately results in potential bone weakening [7] and a greater risk of chronic disease.

 

Is Collagen Supplementation Beneficial?

Last but certainly not least is the option of collagen supplementation. As both the medical and cosmetic benefits of collagen make their way into media outlets, new collagen products seem to pop up almost daily. Lotions, powders, gel pills, even gummy bears and collagen-infused beers [8] are making their way into the marketplace at a dizzying rate.
In general, there are essentially two sources where you can get exogenous (externally derived) collagen. The first is from homemade bone broth and sinuous meats. The second is in a more traditional supplement form, such as some of the ones listed above. (We don’t recommend beer as your source!)
If you are a meat eater, bone broth and beef roasts with a lot of connective tissue are great sources of collagen. If you are getting your collagen from meat products, it will actually come in the form of gelatin; this is what collagen turns into when it is cooked.

 

For both bone broth and roast, it is important to cook them long enough to convert the collagen to edible gelatin. In the case of bone broth, it is also important to boil the bones long enough to completely extract all the minerals and marrow from them for added nutrients. Ensure that your broths and meat dishes are prepared using grass-fed, hormone-free, antibiotic-free meat for optimal benefits.
Collagen supplements come in many forms, including bone broth powders and isolated collagen products such as collagen hydrolysate, hydrolyzed collagen, or collagen peptides.
Whatever kind you try, there is definitely evidence that collagen supplementation works. A study conducted by Penn State University in 2008 found that athletes with joint paint who received collagen hydrolysate supplementation for 24 weeks had less joint pain than a control group, even when lifting weights [9].
Regarding healthy skin, a 2017 Chinese in vivo study on mice found that collagen peptides from bovine bone “significantly improved the antioxidative enzyme activities in skin” after only eight weeks of supplementation [10].
And finally, studies going back to the 1990s have correlated collagen supplementation with improvements in osteoarthritis. A 2009 study published in the International Journal of Medical Sciences found that arthritis pain dropped by an average of 26% for those who took collagen supplements [11].
So what’s the bottom line? The hype around collagen’s beauty and health-enhancing virtues may be a passing fad in the fickle world of beauty. But the facts around the role these vital proteins play in how your body functions every day are sure to stand the test of time.

Is this powerful protein the next best thing to a “Fountain of Youth”? 

Article Summary

  • Collagen is a protein; the most abundant kind in the human body.
  • Collagen is vital for maintaining the structure and integrity of your entire body.
  • There are more than a dozen kinds of collagen proteins, although most fall into types I, II, or III. Collagen molecules pack together in “fibrils,” which are long, thin fibrous formations.
  • Here are just a few reasons why collagen so beneficial:
    • Strong cartilage and muscles
    • Healthy teeth
    • Thick hair
    • Smooth skin
    • Good gut health
  • Collagen supplements come in many forms, including bone broth powders and isolated collagen products such as collagen hydrolysate, hydrolyzed collagen, or collagen peptides.
  • Clean Sourced Collagens from Organixxcontains five types of collagen from four quality sources.

 

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