Collagen is definitely having a moment right now. It’s being touted for everything from thick hair to improving gut health. We took a moment to understand how the body uses collagen, how to improve collagen production through food and when it is best to supplement.
So, what is collagen?
Collagen is a long chain of linked amino acids that occurs naturally in our bodies. It provides our cells, muscles, tendons, blood vessels, connective tissues and digestive system with the structure (or framework) they need to perform at their best. It is the most abundant protein found in the connective tissue in the body – the hair, skin, nails, ligaments, cartilage, tendons, bones and within blood vessel walls. Unfortunately, as we age, our bodies produce less and less collagen, which can lead to thinner, sagging skin, the development of wrinkles, and joint pain. The good news is that supplementing with collagen has a host of benefits, including:
helping you recover from injuries more quickly and can help improve your physical performance.
Improving bone mineral density.
Supporting cardiovascular health by reducing arterial stiffness, which is a marker of cardiovascular disease in the elderly.
Preventing elevated blood pressure.
Providing anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
Improving overall wellbeing and energy
Promising research currently being done in animals suggests that collagen may:
Heal and strengthen the gut lining
Prevent gastric ulcers
Improve memory and cognition
Improve calcium absorption from the GI tract
Accelerate wound healing
Improve gut health by acting as a prebiotic and prevent gut bacteria imbalance
Which type of collagen to choose:
There are 2 main sources of collagen on the market today: marine and bovine; as well as plant-based boosters, that help your body increase its own production of collagen. The main reason to choose one over the other, is personal preference for source but there is also some emerging science that suggests one form is better for hair, skin and nails, and the other great or joint health
Grass-fed bovine collagen is made up of types 1 and 3 collagen. These are the two most plentiful types of collagen present in our bodies and can be found throughout our connective tissues. This makes grass-fed bovine collagen great for all-round body health and recovery from injuries.
Marine collagen is a source of type 1 collagen. Type 1 is the most plentiful collagen in our bodies. It’s also a key building block for maintaining the elasticity and firmness of our biggest organ: the skin.
If you are following a strict plant-based diet, there are some collagen booster supplements on the market that contain plant peptides which mimic the role of animal-sourced collagen peptides and are scientifically proven to boost type 1 collagen production.
Foods That Boost Collagen Production
There are also a number of foods that can help boost collagen production and not surprising, they are the same foods considered beneficial for overall health and well-being:
Colorful fruits and vegetables – from berries to citr7s, they contain vitamin C and A that help with collagen production
Red fruits and vegetables, in particular, stewed tomatoes and red bell peppers, are high in lycopene
Fish and flax seeds are high in omega 3s, which increase collagen production
Protein in general, as the amino acids facilitate collagen production
Garlic is high in taurine, lipoic acid and sulfur, which helps rebuild collagen fibres
Products Featured in this Article