(NaturalHealth365) Collagen is a major building block of connective tissues and organs. It’s in your bones, blood vessels, muscles, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, hair, nails, skin, and just about every other part of your body. It’s like a glue holding these tissues together.
But this abundant protein (it’s the most common in your body and comes in at least 16 different varieties) offers many specific health benefits, as well.
5 benefits of getting more collagen in your diet
The human body produces its own supply of collagen, but getting extra through your diet helps your body make more and enhances the protein’s beneficial effects. These effects include:
1. Healthier looking skin
Frowning about frown lines? Taking collagen may reduce the appearance of wrinkles and blemishes, reduce dryness, improve skin elasticity, and slow skin cell aging.
In addition to being anti-aging, collagen can also improve the strength and appearance of hair and nails.
2. Decreased joint pain
Do you have osteoarthritis or struggle with sore joints? Collagen may be more effective at relieving pain and improving function compared to other joint supplements like chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine.
And unlike pain-relieving medications, collagen likely does more than just “mask” the pain. Evidence suggests that collagen reduces joint inflammation and supports healthier joint cartilage.
3. Improved heart health
By taking collagen, you may be reducing your risk of heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States. How? For one thing, collagen prevents your arteries from getting too stiff.
Hardened arteries are associated with high blood pressure and plaque buildup.
Collagen also may increase the amount of “healthy” HDL cholesterol in your blood. And, as you may know, higher levels of HDL are associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular problems.
4. Increased muscle strength and mass
A study found that supplemental collagen increased muscle mass in people with a muscle wasting disease called sarcopenia. But even in healthy exercisers looking to get bigger and stronger muscles, collagen supplementation may still help.
You might ask, ‘how is this possible?’ Because collagen can stimulate the production of a protein called creatinine, which is necessary for muscle growth.
5. Increased bone mineral density
All of us lose bone density as we age, especially women. If you want to reduce your risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures in the future, boosting your diet with collagen now may help.
Studies have found that taking collagen supplements increases bone mineral density and reduces the amount of free-floating proteins associated with bone breakdown.
Here’s the issue: collagen synthesis decreases with age. Your body actually produces 1% less collagen every year after age 20 – and that’s just in the skin!
Factors like UV radiation, environmental toxins, and cellular aging largely explain this trend. So supplement your diet with collagen to make up for your body’s decreased supply.
You can try it in powdered form (often labeled as collagen peptides or hydrolyzed collagen) and mix it into drinks, soups, stews, and smoothies. Or, you can also find collagen in animal products like meat, fish, eggs, organ meats, and bone broth. (just be mindful of quality choices.)
A word to the wise: if you’re new to collagen supplementation, start slowly. Taking too much can upset your stomach.
Gradually work your way up from 1 serving per day to 2 to 3 servings.
Overall, collagen has no known (negative) side effects. So, while you should always talk to your doctor before making dietary changes, collagen supplementation is likely safe and beneficial for most people – especially anyone with a need for greater protein intake, including bodybuilders, women who are pregnant, and people recovering from injuries.
Sources for this article include:
Food & Nutrition
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