When it comes to talking about beauty enhancing and preserving youth, you often hear about the need for collagen.
By the time you turn 18, your body’s natural collagen production will decrease by 1% every year. For women in particular, every 10 years their skin will decrease in thickness by 7%. Collagen loss becomes even more severe following menopause.
Now you might be wondering why collagen is so key to your body’s health. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about collagen and why it’s so important.
What is Collagen?
Collagen is a protein that exists naturally in your body. It’s a major component of the connective tissues that make up your:
- Blood vessels
Think of collagen as the glue that holds these body parts together.
Collagen plays an important part in keeping your bones strong, helping your blood clot, and structuring your skin. Without it, your skin will start to sag and wrinkle.
As more people learn about collagen protein, more collagen supplements and products have emerged. In fact, the global collagen market was estimated at $4.27 billion as of 2018.
There are also many foods you can eat to increase your collagen intake, including:
- Bone broth
- Citrus fruits
You can also increase procollagen in your body to activate natural collagen production. To help your body produce this protein, try adding vitamin C, proline, glycine, and copper to your diet.
Types of Collagen
There are four main types of collagen in your body. Each plays an important role.
Type I collagen accounts for 90% of the collagen in your body. It provides structure for your teeth, connective tissue, fibrous cartilage, tendons, bones, and skin.
Type II collagen is found in elastic cartilage, which cushions your joints.
Type III collagen structures your muscles, organs, and arteries, while Type IV collagen helps with filtration.
As you age, you produce less collagen. It also becomes lower-quality. One indication you’re losing collagen is that your skin will become less firm and supple.
Avoid Collagen-Damaging Behaviors
As you age, it becomes more important to avoid behavior that could damage your body’s existing collagen.
First, try to avoid sugar and refined carbs. Sugar makes it more difficult for your body to repair existing collagen.
Next, try to avoid excessive sun exposure. Wear a hat and glasses when you are outside. Otherwise, the ultraviolet radiation can hurt your body’s collagen production.
Smoking can also harm your body’s natural collagen production. In addition to causing wrinkles, this can also make it more difficult for your body to naturally heal wounds.
Certain health conditions, such as lupus, can harm your collagen, too.
What Collagen Does
Collagen peptides or supplements can help your body contain its collagen and slow the signs of aging.
What are collagen peptides? Collagen peptides are a form of hydrolyzed collagen protein that make it easier for your body to absorb the collagen.
Here’s why you should consider helping your body repair and produce more collagen:
1. Improved Skin Health
First off, collagen is great for your skin since it plays a big role in your skin’s health, hydration, and elasticity. As you age, the decrease in collagen production can cause you to form more wrinkles.
According to one study, women who took collagen over eight weeks experienced less skin dryness. Their skin elasticity improved as well.
Collagen can also reduce your wrinkle depth.
Collagen peptides encourage your body to stimulate collagen production on its own. The supplements can also promote the production of other proteins that improve your skin’s structure. These include elastin and fibrillin.
2. Joint Pain Relief
As you might remember, Type II is found in your body’s cartilage. This rubber-like tissue protects your joints. Without it, you might experience joint pain or develop a degenerative joint disorder, such as osteoarthritis.
Many people have found that taking collagen supplements helped improve osteoarthritis symptoms and reduced joint pain.
Some researchers also believe that supplemental collagen can lower inflammation. Inflammation is connected to various health concerns, including:
- Heart disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Neurodegenerative diseases (such as Alzheimer’s disease)
Collagen peptides can stimulate collagen synthesis and promote pain relief!
3. Bone Loss Prevention
As you age, you might feel your bones start to deteriorate and ache. Your bones are mostly made of collagen, so you need collagen to feel strong.
Without enough collagen, you might lose bone mass and develop osteoporosis. This condition often leads to a higher risk of bone fractures.
Supplemental collagen can strengthen your bones and prevent your bones from breaking down.
Your bone mineral density depends on the amount of minerals in your bones, including calcium. Lower bone mass density and lower protein levels in your blood could otherwise stimulate bone breakdown.
4. Boost Muscle Mass
Feeling strong? Like your bones, muscle tissue needs collagen in order to remain strong and function properly.
Patients with sarcopenia (muscle loss that’s caused by aging) can benefit from taking collagen peptides. Athletes can benefit from collagen supplements as well.
Supplemental collagen will promote muscle protein synthesis. It can also stimulate muscle growth after you head to the gym. However, more research is needed to determine the full extent of collagen’s ability to improve muscle mass.
5. Heart Health Protection
As you get older, you might feel concerned about your heart health. Talk with your doctor about whether a collagen supplement could help reduce your risk of heart-related conditions.
Collagen gives your arteries, or the blood vessels that carry blood from your heart to the rest of your body, the structure they need. Without collagen, however, your arteries can become weak over the years.
Weakened arteries can lead to atherosclerosis, which could lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Collagen Is a Necessary Protein
Strengthen your skin and keep your body healthy. Now that we’ve answered the question, “What is collagen?” you know all the ways it can benefit your overall health.
Discover more ways to live happier and healthier. Contact us today to schedule your annual wellness visit.