by Dana Gross
Five or ten years ago, you never really heard people say something like, “I’ve been adding collagen supplements to my morning smoothie and I’m already seeing the difference it made!” However, by 2018 it seemed like collagen was on every beauty blogger’s lips (figuratively speaking of course). Some people swear by collagen as a resource for weight loss, while others are dosing collagen for its anti-aging benefits, but what is collagen exactly, how does one ingest collagen, and what are the benefits of adding collagen to your daily diet? All great questions – let’s have a look at the answers.
What is Collagen?
Collagen is a protein responsible for keeping the bones, skin, muscles, tendons, and ligaments together in all mammals, including humans. That’s a pretty big deal if you ask us. Collagen has several important functions in the body which include health benefits for the skin and supporting strong bones in the body. Collagen makes up one-third of the body’s protein, so you can only imagine just how important it is for healthy living. There are 29 different types of collagen that have been identified, though only types I, II, III have been found in the human body.
As the body ages, it produces less and less collagen in the body, which is why some individuals begin to suffer from pains caused by fragile joints, weaker muscles, weaker teeth, and weaker bones. But, does ingesting animal collagen strengthen the collagen in a human body, and do we get to decide what the protein is used for in our bodies?
What are the main sources of Collagen?
As we mentioned, collagen is found in mammals, which means the best source of collagen is, yes, in mammals, especially their skin and bones. This could explain why many shops that simply sell broth, are making serious capital on the latest trend. Bone broth may be derived from the bones of chickens, cows, pigs or other mammals. Chicken skin, pork skin, gelatin, egg yolk, and egg-shell membrane are some other notable sources of collagen, though it still hasn’t been scientifically proven that the body breaks down the animal collagen and stores it in the body as usable collagen. The studies around collagen are fairly new, which means it’s hard to determine its long term effects and there haven’t been enough studies to prove any hard facts.
How do Collagen Supplements Work?
Collagen supplements were made to make it easier for the body to break down and absorb the good stuff. The protein can’t be absorbed whole, but naturally needs to run its course through the digestive system and then is absorbed into the bloodstream. Collagen supplements typically go through the hydrolyzation process. Their long amino acid chains are broken down into peptides, which are then more easily absorbed by the body. Though, while you may decide to take collagen supplements for more youthful hydrated skin, your body decides how to use the collagen peptides, and may decide to prioritize ligaments, healing wounds, or other necessary protein functions.
The benefits circulating around the collagen hype include:
1. Skin health– studies have shown improvements in skin elasticity, improved skin hydration, and a decrease in visible signs of aging.
2. Improved Joint Health–Studies have shown decreased joint-pain for athletes, and for those who engage in physical activity.
3. Could Prevent Bone Loss and Increase Muscle Mass – Some researchers speculate, based on small studies, that collagen may stimulate the production of protein for muscle growth, while other studies have shown inhibited bone breakdown in older women, though more studies need to be conducted in order to further prove such claims.
4. Weight Loss- There have been minimal studies resulting in reduced appetite after increased collagen, along with higher rates at satiety, but there is not enough conclusive evidence to support the claim that increased collagen intake promotes weight loss.
Take Away or To Stay?
It is always important to check who is funding such scientific research in order to discern whether the studies may be bias or not. What’s most important here is providing your body with an adequate amount of protein, which even vegetarian diets and vegan diets can support, as long as you know how and what to eat daily. It is also important to note that certain foods and lifestyles can have negative consequences on the collagen in the body, foods like sugar and other processed foods can damage the collagen, resulting in damaged skin, weaker nails, hair, muscle, and teeth. Another important factor to keep in mind is that several heavy metals and toxins are stored in the bones of animals, which then becomes a part of the animal broth, so you may want to consider investigating where your collagen or collagen supplements are sourced from before ingesting and digesting.
Now it’s up to you how you would like to source your protein for healthy living!