2020 Natural Health Trend: Collagen Supplements
Collagen is everywhere these days – in our coffee, supplements, beauty products and social media feeds. But does it measure up to the hype?
You may have noticed that collagen is showing up everywhere – in coffee shops, smoothie counters, supplement aisles and even your protein bar. That’s right – collagen is the new coconut oil!
So, what is it anyway?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, acting mainly as a building block for the structural and connective tissues of the body: bones, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, hair, nails and skin.
Our body produces its own collagen (endogenous collagen) from free amino acids, but this process slows as we age. Collagen can also be obtained through our diet (exogenous collagen).
Dietary collagen isn’t a new concept but has long been a part of traditional diets in foods prepared with the bones, cartilage and skin of animals. Collagen is also hiding in plain sight: in broths, as thickening agents in some confections and in gelatin capsules. Whether you know it or not, you’ve almost certainly eaten collagen before (hello, Jell-O!).
Until recently, it was disputed that dietary collagen could influence tissue levels, but researchers have discovered collagen peptides can be absorbed intact from the GI tract and delivered to target tissues throughout the body. The results have been touted by collagen’s growing fan base, who credit their daily dose of collagen for youthful skin, healthy joints, lustrous hair and nails, injury recovery and strong bones.
What can collagen do for you?
Social media influencers may be blowing up the collagen trend, but the scientific community has also taken interest in the virtues of collagen – with promising results. Increased dietary intake of collagen has been found to benefit some common health and age-related issues that affect everyone.
The most visible sign of our body’s decline in collagen are the fine lines and wrinkles that appear as production drops. Collagen makes up a significant percentage of the dermis (the layer beneath the skin’s surface that acts as a “scaffolding”).
Studies have taken a closer look at collagen’s role in the dermis, noting that supplementation has been shown to increase skin elasticity, firmness, plumpness and tone. Oral collagen increases the activity of the enzyme responsible for manufacturing glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) that act like a glue for the entire structure. One of these GAGs is hyaluronic acid which attracts and holds water, giving the appearance of plump, hydrated skin.
Feeling young is even better than looking young, and collagen supplementation has shown promising results for joints too! Research has found that collagen supplements can help improve the symptoms of osteoarthritis, with improvement found in some measures of joint pain due to collagen hydrolysate’s ability to be absorbed intestinally and accumulate in cartilage.
Get more collagen in your life
There’s no better time to join team collagen! Along with the rise in demand, a wide variety of collagen products are available. From powders to packaged food products there are more options than ever before, including the choice of collagen sources: marine or animal (bovine, poultry, porcine).
A few simple ways to add more collagen to your day include:
- Bone broth – Some like it traditional with bone broth and certain specialty shops and health food retailers offer premade versions, or you can prepare your own at home. Be sure to source quality bones from a reputable source. There are many recipes available, as well as convenient powdered bone broth formula supplements.
- Supplements – Collagen supplements available in tablets, chews and capsules are all effective ways to add collagen to your day, as are powdered versions – both for convenience and versatility. Powdered forms are easy to mix into any beverage, from bulletproof coffee to matcha smoothies to a tall glass of H20. Collagen is heat-stable, dissolves quickly and can be found in a wide variety of flavours or unflavoured powders that can blend into almost anything. Look for “hydrolyzed collagen” or “collagen peptides” for the best absorption.
- Collagen enhanced food products – Collagen has become popular in fortifying protein bars, for instant snacks that up your collagen intake. You can also find beverage boosters such as flavoured coffee creamers and “water enhancers” that are even available in single-serving sachets as a convenient on-the-go option.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON HEALTHIERBYNATURE.CA