By: Samantha Thayer
You may have seen collagen making the rounds as a health food trend lately.
You can add it into your meals, coffee, or even water.
So what is it, really?
Collagen is a protein found in our body that is an essential component of skin, muscle, bone, and connective tissues. Collagen provides strength, elasticity, and water resistance. The word collagen comes from the Greek word “kólla,” which means glue. It’s the most abundant source of protein in the body. It declines naturally as we age as it accumulates damage.
There are a lot of factors that can damage our existing collagen. Some include sun damage, injury, and sugar. UV rays increase the rate that collagen breaks down, and too much sugar in our diet increases glycation – which results in weak collagen.
You can help your body produce collagen by getting plenty of nutrients. Some nutrients that aid in the production of collagen are:
Vitamin C: Eat citrus fruits, bell peppers, or strawberries. Taking a Vitamin C supplement can help in nutrient-deficient diets.
Proline: Proline is an amino acid. Foods rich in proline include dairy products, asparagus, and mushrooms.
Glycine: Protein-containing foods.
Copper: Found in sesame seeds, cashews, and lentils.
Animal based proteins such as meat, fish, poultry, and dairy also help stimulate collagen production. Oral collagen supplements can also be used to help improve collagen status.
There are some skin treatments you can do to help stimulate collagen production in the skin to create a smoother, more youthful appearance. If you’re interested in going this route, speak with a licensed professional (cosmetic dermatologist) to look into options available.
Another way to help collagen production for your skin is to use skincare products that contain vitamin C. Vitamin C is necessary for collagen production and maintenance, and it’s a great antioxidant that helps fight against free radicals which can damage our skin. Using vitamin C to supplement our skins collagen can help bring an even tone and texture to skin. According to Linus Pauling Institute (LPI), “the antioxidant properties of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and its role in collagensynthesis make vitamin C a vital molecule for skin health. Dietary and topicalascorbic acid have beneficial effects on skin cells, and some studies have shown that vitamin C may help prevent and treat ultraviolet (UV)-induced photodamage.”
If your diet is lacking, another way to get collagen is to use collagen supplements. There are a lot out there, so make sure to do your research and pick the one that best suits your needs. There are two popular types: hydrolyzed collagen and gelatin (commonly found in bone broth). Some collagen supplements come in a powder so it’s easy to mix into smoothies, soup, or baked goods. This is a great way to supplement your diet if it’s low in natural sources and great for your skin. Other benefits of taking collagen supplements may include relieving joint pain, stronger hair and nails, balancing your hormones, and healthier gums and teeth.
Learn more about the different types of collagen here and different benefits of each.
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