Introducing you to the protein behind healthy skin and joints
It’s not just for wrinkles anymore. The collagen trend has spread from cosmetic injections to products you see every day. Food, skin cream, pills and powders all tout collagen as the way to a healthy, vibrant body.
Are they worth your money?
Your body has been making collagen your whole life. Products to boost your collagen levels may be helpful, but it is important to first consider if your body needs more
When collagen levels drop
Collagen is a protein. The most plentiful protein in your body or that matter. Collagen is in your muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, organs, blood vessels, skin, intestinal lining and other connective tissues.
While you can’t measure your collagen level, you can tell when it is dropping. With age, collagen decreases which contribute to:
- Stiffer, less flexible tendons and ligaments
- Shrinking, weakening muscles
- Joint pain or osteoarthritis due to worn cartilage
- Gastrointestinal issues due to thinning of the lining in your digestive tract
Poor diet is a great contributor to collagen drop. Your body cannot make collagen if it does not have the necessary elements to.
Making collagen naturally
When your body makes collagen, it combines amino acids — nutrients you get from eating protein-rich foods, like beef, chicken, fish, beans, eggs and dairy products.
The process also needs vitamin C, zinc and copper. You can get vitamin C by from citrus fruits, red and green peppers, tomatoes, broccoli and greens. You can get the minerals by eating meats, shellfish, nuts, whole grains and beans.
As you age, however, your body may no longer absorb nutrients as well or synthesize them as efficiently. “To make sure your body has enough ingredients to make collagen, you may need to change what you eat or take dietary supplements.
In addition to healthy servings of foods packed with protein, vitamins and minerals, you can have a collagen-boosting brew: bone broth.
Bone broth draws collagen out of beef, chicken or fish bones, leaving a flavorful liquid that you can drink straight up or use in other dishes. Most bone broth recipes require slowly simmering bones in water — on the cooker or in a crockpot — for one or two days.
Second best: collagen supplements
If you’re eating a healthy diet and feeding your body all the nutrients it needs to make collagen, you probably don’t need a supplement, there’s nothing wrong with taking one though.
Hydrolyzed collagen (or “collagen peptide”) powder usually has no flavour and dissolves easily in beverages, smoothies, soups and sauces.
As for skin cream with synthetic collagen, it may work. It will add a film-like layer to your skin to reduce water loss and act as a barrier from environmental elements. But using skin cream is probably not as effective as eating healthy — and protecting your skin from excessive sun exposure and sunburns, especially early in life.