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A Closer Look at Collagen Supplements

Apr 01, 2018 07:00AM ● By Brian Saucedo
By Caley Breese

Ensuring our bodies receive enough protein is essential; yet it can be a challenge to make sure we get the proper amount. One of the most important proteins found in our body is collagen. While there are different ways to obtain this protein, such as injections, collagen supplements are turning up as a rapidly trending topic in 2018.

Collagen is the most abundant form of protein in the body, but what is it and why do we need it? We reached out to local experts to get the 4-1-1 on this essential protein, supplements, where to find it, and how it benefits our bodies.

What is Collagen?
Collagen is found everywhere in our bodies, from our skin to our bones. It strengthens and supports many tissues, particularly our tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. It gives our skin strength and elasticity, as well as help hold our bodies together, giving them structure. 

“Next to water, it’s the most plentiful substance in our bodies and is the main building block for skin, tendons, and bones,” Dr. Stephanie Chaney, D.C., with Living Health Integrative Medicine, explains.

While there are approximately 14 different types of collagen, according to Dr. Chaney, over 90 percent of the collagen found in our bodies are types I, II, and III. Type I is primarily found in the skin, bone, tendons, and corneas; Type II is mainly found in cartilage; and Type III collagen is also found in skin, in addition to blood vessel walls and structural fibers of various organs, which include the liver and lungs.

Dr. Chaney also explains that right now, there is no agreement as to how much collagen intake a person needs daily; however, when it comes to daily protein intake, it ranges anywhere from 50 to 75 grams depending on the individual’s bodyweight and activity level. She also cautions that while protein is an essential part of our diet, we should never go overboard with how much we consume. 

“People eating too many proteins from any source at one time can overload the kidneys and the cells in general, causing acidosis, which is a recipe for chronic disease,” Dr. Chaney warns. “Too much of a good thing is not always a good thing!”

Food and Supplements
When it comes to finding foods that contain collagen on their own, we’re essentially out of luck because not many foods contain collagen itself; it’s more about eating foods that contain minerals and compounds that boost our body to make its own collagen. 

Foods high in vitamin A/beta carotene, zinc, vitamin C, and vitamin E are important because they help combine the proteins together to create collagen. Some of these nutrients include carrots, sweet potatoes, salmon, nuts, broccoli, and citrusy foods. Additionally, berries contain ellagic acid, which assists in preventing the breakdown of collagen in our bodies and maintaining the collagen we already have. Vitamin E (found in avocado, for example) also helps this process. 

One thing that Dr. Chaney advises her patients to do is save the bones from the meat and poultry they eat and make a homemade broth with them, as bone broth does contain collagen. This allows the individual to get the benefits of extra dietary collagen.

“Sipping on warm broth throughout the day, especially during the cold winter months, is very comforting, and even better than hot tea for most.”

If you feel as though you need extra collagen in your diet, you can take supplements, such as sprinkling some collagen powder into a smoothie. Dr. Chaney recommends finding one that comes from a clean source, meaning grass-fed meat or bones, free-range eggs, and hormone-free. However, if you do think you need some additional collagen in your diet, talking to your doctor first is always encouraged!

Collagen Benefits
Collagen provides many health and beauty benefits when we include it as part of our daily nutrition. According to Dr. Chaney, types I and III are good for: improving the elasticity of tissues and blood vessels, which also allows us to maintain healthy blood pressure, can improve circulation, and cardiovascular function; minimizes fine lines and wrinkles of the skin; supports bone health by maintaining bone density and potentially preventing osteoporosis; slows hair loss while also thickening hair; supports nail function for healthy nail beds; and helps build lean muscle and burn fat. Type II collagen primarily assists with cartilage. 

Collagen is a very popular and trending topic of 2018. Dr. Chaney explains, “Anti-aging is a big deal right now with our aging population, and people working and striving to not just look younger, but feel and function in a more youthful, healthy manner. The goal now is to live to 150,
but be in good condition. People want to retire and be able to enjoy staying active
and busy with bodies that work well.”

If you’re interested in adding more collagen into your daily nutritional routine, talk to your doctor to see what option is best for you, and remember that maintaining a healthy diet and a consistent exercise routine will always benefit your overall well-being.