Collagen is a popular word in the health food world today. But, you may have heard about it before that in your high school biology class. Collagen is what creates the connective tissue in the human (and other animal’s) body, including tendons, cartilage, skin, and more. Nowadays, you may have heard the growing trend of using supplements to add collagen to your diet.
What You Need To Know About Collagen
The body is an amazing machine that is often self-sustaining. One of the ways it sustains itself is by producing collagen from the protein and nutrients you consume on a daily basis. So, if you are not actively adding collagen to your diet with supplements, you can rest easy.
There are 5 types of collagen in the body:
- comprises skin, bone, tendon, and organs in the body
- specifically builds cartilage
- found in the bone marrow and lymphoid tissue
- creates the thin tissue surrounding most organs
- you can find this type of collagen in hair and the surfaces of cells
So, what do you have to know? Your body makes it’s own collagen, which is great, because it really needs it!
Should You Be Adding Collagen To Your Diet?
The general fad right now is that collagen supplements can do anything! They make your hair shinier and stronger, your skin more elastic, your joints less creaky! It’s great for your gut and immune system. Bone broth and supplements are touted as miracle cures for all your ailments.
However, is there any truth to these claims?
Luckily, scientists have been working hard to answer your questions!
Collagen & Joint Health
Firstly, one of the more interesting claims about collagen is its ability to support joint health, especially in individuals with rheumatoid arthritis.
According to Bagchi and colleagues, Type II collagen supplements led to a decrease in pain of trial participants who suffered from either rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. Using supplements to add collagen to your diet helps decrease the amount of joint inflammation!
Similar findings were replicated in Woo and colleagues’ study, which found that osteoarthritis, in particular, benefitted from the oral supplements.
While there are treatments for arthritis, including heat therapy, over-the-counter painkillers, and anti-inflammatory diets, this poses a hopeful avenue of treatment for those seeking to decrease their overall pain at the source, aka their joints.
Add Collagen To Your Diet For Skin?
There is also an increasing body of research that advocates for using collagen to support skin health and elasticity, specifically as we age. In fact, the majority of collagen supplements on the market right now seem to be aimed towards those hoping to avoid aging skin.
What does the science say in this department?
Well, if you’re using a cream that has collagen in it, there is a very good chance that it is not doing much for your youthful appearance. Moreover, the benefits of supplements for skin health are dependent on the bioavailability of the collagen being used. Basically, unless the collagen is provided in a way that your body can digest, it will do nothing for you.
On the other hand, if you are using a supplement that your body can absorb, adding collagen to your diet does has the ability to improve skin elasticity and youthful appearance! It is important that this study added collagen to participants’ diets along with various other vitamins and nutrients. Therefore, a youthful appearance is closely linked to a healthy, nutritious diet.
Best Way To Add Collagen To Your Diet
Clearly, collagen can be consumed as a supplement. Moreover, it is found in bone broths, fish skin, and various other animal connective tissues.
But what else can we do to improve our collagen levels?
As mentioned in my earlier articles, most dieticians would rather you eat a balanced, nutritious diet before you turn to oral supplements. Simply, when we get out nutrients from our food, our body can access them more readily. This may not always be the case with supplements, especially as they are relatively unregulated.
While meat is the most common source of collagen, it can also be found in a variety of other places. Moreover, there are foods you can eat to improve your body’s collagen production!
- Citrus fruits and other vitamin C rich foods
- Leafy greens
When you support your body by eating nutritionally complete foods, it is better equipped to face all of life’s challenges!
Adding Collagen To Your Diet: So What?
Throughout this article, we explored why collagen is an integral part of the body, ageing, joint health, and more! But, you don’t need to take an oral supplement to ensure your collagen levels are high.
While eating foods like bone broth, fish, chicken, and eggs can add collagen to your diet, it is also important to eat the nutrients necessary for your body to synthesize collagen on its own. This is especially relevant to those who are eating vegetarian or vegan diets.
It is also possible that your body needs collagen if your skin is getting papery or thin, you feel stiff, you begin to have stomach distress, or if you find yourself consistently running low on energy.
As with all my articles, the conclusion is the same. Listen to your body. Eat a well-balanced diet. If you find you still want to try a supplement, give it a shot, and see how your body reacts. It may or may not make a difference for you, but at the end of the day, it can’t hurt!