By Dr. Kaley Burns EBS COLUMNIST
From bone broth to protein bars, collagen is quickly becoming a popular supplemental nutrient for many consumers. Collagen is one of the most abundant proteins found in the body; There are at least 16 different types, helping to make up the structure of skin, bone, cartilage and muscle. While collagen is widely known for preventing wrinkles, the nutritional benefits of collagen are many.
How do you know if you need collagen?
It’s quite common for the body to produce less collagen with the natural aging process. Yet age isn’t the only antagonist of collagen production: Stress, poor diet, lack of exercise and gut imbalance can all contribute to an inability to produce this nutrient. Additionally, environmental factors such as pollution and overexposure to sun can play a role in depletion. Decreased absorption or deficiency in certain vitamins such as vitamin C can also lead to collagen deficiency. Here are some signs you might have a collagen deficiency:
- Skin: The formation of wrinkles, sagging skin, easy bruising and loss of elasticity can all signal collagen deficiency. In addition, wounds take time to heal when collagen is lacking.
- Muscles: Collagen is essential to muscle fibers. A deficiency may lead to frequent muscle aches.
- Cartilage: Collagen deficiency can affect joint stability and lead to stiffness and joint pains.
- Blood vessels walls: Blood vessels are also affected by collagen deficiency by producing chest pain, dry eyes, headaches, skin rashes, breathing difficulty and more.
- Teeth: Collagen substance aids in anchoring the teeth to gums. Lack of collagen may result in toothache and early destruction of teeth.
- Gut: Collagen contains the amino acids proline and glycine, which are essential building blocks to repairing damaged intestinal lining. Deficiency may show in symptoms of GI discomfort.
How does collagen help?
Collagen is a fantastic gut-healing, immune supportive and anti-inflammatory agent. It protects the gut from harmful bacteria, can soothe and prevent ulcers and helps to decrease inflammation in the gut.
Studies have found that women who take collagen supplements saw a significant decrease in wrinkles and improved skin elasticity. Additionally, collagen has shown promising benefits in reducing sun spots and the promotion of wound healing when taken regularly.
Collagen has also been shown to promote healthy cartilage and reduce pain in osteoarthritis patients. Athletes who put a lot of pressure and strain on their ligaments, muscles and bones can experience a reduced risk of joint deterioration with optimal collagen levels.
Glycine also plays a crucial part in brain function. Research has shown that glycine has been associated with alleviated insomnia and more mental acuteness during the day. Taking collagen not only helps your ability to fall asleep, but it can also improve memory.
How can you build your collagen stores?
One of the most popular ways to increase collagen stores is bone broth. Beyond bone broth, collagen is available as a tasteless powder or in capsule form. Look for grass-fed, pesticide-free, hormone-free, non-GMO collagen. You can also boost your collagen by supporting your vitmain C intake with foods including tomatoes, citrus fruits, kiwis, papayas, bell peppers, oranges, strawberries, brussel sprouts, broccoli, kale, cauliflower and other leafy greens.
Start the healing
Try mixing a collagen powder into your morning coffee, smoothie or favorite bedtime tea. You can even use chocolate collagen to make a fun spin on hot cocoa!