When we think about the way our skin naturally ages, one word that often crops up is ‘collagen’.
However, collagen is not just the key to firmer looking and feeling skin. It also has a wide number of important uses throughout the body.
Collagen is the most abundant and naturally occurring protein in the body and it plays a huge role in how we look and feel.
It is a word that is attached to a great many skincare products, and increasingly, it is also part of a large number of supplements that are now available to help support the bones and muscles.
So, before you reach for the next wonder product, it can help to understand exactly what collagen is and how it benefits your body, before you decide whether you need to begin taking it.
What is collagen?Collagen is actually makes up one-third of the body’s protein, making it the most abundant form of protein in the body.1
It is typically known for providing structure to your skin, but it is also vital in helping the blood clotting process as well.
Collagen is found within the bones, skin, tendons and ligaments in addition to blood vessels, the corneas and the teeth.
There are four main types of collagen which support a number of systems within the body, but as we age, we not only produce less of this important collagen, but also a lower quality version of it.
This becomes more visible in the skin, but it is also evident in other ways, such as the fact that the cartilage within our bones begins to weaken.
What are the benefits of collagen supplements?
When our body lacks something that it needs, it is a good idea to try and replenish it, and there are a number of different ways of doing this.
There are several ways in which you can naturally increase the amount of collagen rich foods you consume in your diet.
Another key way is through taking collagen supplements, which are either hydrolyzed collagen or gelatin. These can take the form of liquid, powder or tablets.
Hydrolyzed collagen has been broken down into smaller peptides than the usual large protein, making it easier for the body to absorb.Collagen supplement powders are a versatile form of the supplement as they can be mixed into a range of smoothies and other foods to make them easier to take. You can read more on ‘What is hydrolysed collagen?’ via our Health Hub.
Collagen supplements are thought to have a number of different benefits. They are thought to help increase muscle mass and strength; however, they should not be used as a substitute for a dietary protein that has been designed to balance blood sugar levels and fuel metabolic functions.
Collagen does bolster the connective tissue, which supports your active muscles, meaning that injury recovery time can be reduced.Collagen has been shown to be beneficial in cases of joint pain and weakness, and it is believed that collagen supplements can also play a role in managing the symptoms of arthritis. It has also been found to support healthy bone mineral density in older women.2
Collagen is perhaps best known for its ability to improve the elasticity of the skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkles and sagging skin.
There are now a number of collagen liquid supplements on the market which are taken on a daily basis in very small amounts in order to try to help support the collagen production in the skin.
Is collagen a complete source of protein?
Collagen is a unique type of protein, as it does not have all nine of the essential amino acids that a complete protein requires.
It does contain some essential amino acids that are lacking in many modern diets and are effective in recovery and repair.
That means taking a collagen supplement can be effective in acting as the glue that holds much of our bodies together, keeping us strong and flexible, but it should not be taken as your main protein source.
Which is the best collagen supplement?
When taking a supplement, you should always ensure that you are giving your body exactly what it needs.
Collagen supplements are not a form of complete protein, so you should make sure that you are taking a product that meets the requirements of your body.
Always take care in introducing a new supplement into your diet.
If you are unsure, or experience any adverse effects, you should consult your doctor.Find out all more collagen, including what it does, the benefits to taking it and how much you might need in our Health Hub article ‘Collagen: benefits, dosage, side-effects.’ Shop Collagen
Last updated: 10 February 2020