Collagen is one of the most abundant proteins in the human body and plays an integral role in our overall health and appearance. Collagen gives structure and strength to tissues like skin, bones, tendons, muscles, and blood vessels.
As we age, collagen production starts to decline leading to common signs of aging like wrinkles, joint pain, and weakened bones. Thankfully, there are steps we can take to boost our collagen levels. In this article, we’ll explore what collagen is, the benefits it provides, top food sources, and supplementary ways to increase collagen.
What Is Collagen? What Are The Different Types Of Collagen?
Collagen is a fibrous protein made up of amino acids like glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline. It makes up about 30% of the total protein content in the human body. Collagen forms a structural framework that provides strength and structure to skin, bones, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, blood vessels, and teeth.
There are at least 16 different types of collagen in the body, but around 90% consists of types I, II, and III. The different types of collagen include:
- Type I – Most abundant, found in skin, tendons, organs, and bone
- Type II – Found in cartilage
- Type III – Found in blood vessels and organs
- Type IV – Found in eye lenses, lungs, kidneys and liver
- Type V – Found in hair, placenta, and cell surfaces
- Type X – Found in cartilage
Benefits Of Collagen
Taking collagen supplements or eating collagen-boosting foods can provide many health and aesthetic benefits:
- Improves skin elasticity and hydration – Collagen helps maintain skin firmness. It may reduce wrinkles, dryness, and other visible signs of natural aging.
- Relieves joint pain – Collagen supplements can reduce inflammation and pain associated with osteoarthritis.
- Strengthens bones – Collagen improves bone mineral density helping prevent age-related bone loss and osteoporosis.
- Supports heart health – Collagen provides structure to arteries and blood vessels, improving circulation.
- Aids digestion – Collagen can help leaky gut syndrome by “sealing” holes in the intestinal lining. It may also soothe inflammation in the digestive tract.
- Boosts muscle mass – Collagen may stimulate the synthesis of muscle proteins like creatine and promote muscle growth when combined with exercise.
- Helps curb appetite – Collagen is a satiating protein. It may suppress appetite, leading to reduced calorie intake.
Best Sources Of Collagen
- Bone broth – Bone broth made by simmering bones from chicken, beef, or fish provides collagen from animal tissues as well as other nutrients like amino acids.
- Gelatin – Gelatin is cooked collagen, so making Jello with gelatin powder adds some collagen to your diet.
- Eggs – Egg whites contain proline and other amino acids needed to produce collagen.
- Citrus fruits – Fruits like oranges and lemons are high in vitamin C, which is essential for collagen formation.
- Berries – Berries like strawberries and blueberries contain vitamin C to boost collagen. The anthocyanins also protect cells from damage.
- Leafy greens – Dark, leafy greens like spinach and kale provide collagen-boosting vitamin C and antioxidants.
- Garlic – Garlic contains sulfur compounds that support collagen production.
- White tea – White tea contains tannins and antioxidants that may protect collagen from break-down.
- Beans – Beans like kidney beans and black beans deliver anthocyanins, niacin, and zinc to build collagen.
- Chicken – Chicken provides protein for collagen production and also contains the amino acids proline and glycine.
Collagen plays a vital role in maintaining healthy skin, bones, joints, hair, and nails. Unfortunately, natural collagen production slows down with age leading to common signs of aging. Consuming a collagen-rich diet and taking supplements can help counteract this age-related decline in collagen.
Foods like bone broth, eggs, citrus fruits, berries, beans, garlic, and chicken along with collagen powders and pills provide the amino acids and nutrients your body needs to boost collagen levels for youthful, healthy living.
A: Collagen powders made from hydrolyzed bovine or marine collagen provide an easy way to add more collagen to your diet. Collagen pills using fish or eggshell membranes are also good options.
A: Research shows it can take 6-12 weeks of daily collagen supplementation to see results like improved skin hydration, elasticity, and reduced joint pain. Effects accumulate over time with continued use.
A: Collagen supplements are best taken in the morning on an empty stomach or at night before bed for optimal absorption. Taking collagen with vitamin C may also help boost effects.
A: Research suggests 2.5-15 grams of collagen per day is effective, but many recommend starting with 10-20 grams (about 1-2 scoops) daily for anti-aging benefits. Once desired results are achieved, 5-10 grams can help maintain benefits.
A: Cooking typically denatures the collagen proteins. However, ingesting denatured collagen still provides benefits, especially if hydrolyzed into peptides for better bioavailability. Minimizing heat helps retain more collagen integrity.