Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, and it’s certainly having a moment in the wellness world. Noted for its range of health benefits, you’ve likely noticed collagen cropping up on tons of different food, beverage, and supplement labels—but it can be hard to find easy and delicious ways to make it part of your everyday routine so you can actually reap all those great benefits!
What is collagen, anyway?
Collagen is the protein exclusively found in animals—including humans—that holds everything in the body together (think of it as the "glue"). It has a smooth, gel-like consistency and covers and holds your bones in place. Basically, it’s what allows us to move without pain from our bones rubbing against one other or against joints. Collagen makes up about 30 to 40 percent of all of the protein in the human body, and it’s found in bones, tendons, ligaments, connective tissues, and skin. It’s also a crucial element of skin’s elasticity.
Speaking of skin….
Ingesting collagen has been touted for providing major hair, skin, and nail benefits. It’s often recommended to improve skin elasticity and firmness, and research has shown that collagen supplementation also has potential as a treatment for individuals with osteoarthritis and other joint conditions. Collagen has also been noted for its role in supporting strong nails, skin, and teeth because of its high-protein and amino acid content, and it even plays a vital role in supporting muscle building and maintenance of muscle mass, which is key for keeping your metabolism fired up.
It keeps the gut happy.
Collagen has also been studied for its potential in healing a compromised digestive tract. It’s been shown, for example, that collagen levels are low in individuals with inflammatory bowel disease, so many integrative practitioners encourage supplementing with collagen-containing foods or products to help heal the gut. On a simpler note, supplementing with collagen is also a great way to increase your protein intake.
Why do we need to supplement with collagen?
We know the amazing benefits of having collagen in the body for everything from youthful skin to prime gut health. But because collagen production naturally declines as we age, reducing the structural integrity of the skin and instigating the weakening of cartilage in joints, it’s important to supplement with this vital protein. Other factors like sun exposure, diet (high intake of refined sugar and nutrient deficiencies, for example, have been shown to impair collagen production), digestive problems that interfere with collagen production, and diseases that impact collagen may lead to reduced levels. Supplementing helps you boost your collagen levels to keep your body functioning optimally.
M.Om., Dipl. Acu (NCCAOM) L.Ac.
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