Health Benefits of Collagen

It’s hard to argue that whenever you go, a grocery store or a drugstore, you see all these products containing collagen that promise to help you look younger and fresher as long as possible. But is it true? And how significant is collagen for our health?

What is collagen?

Actually it is a fibrous and insoluble protein that makes up about 75% of the protein in the human body. In short, collagen is a material that holds the body together as the collagen molecules form long, thin fibrils and act as supportive structures for cells to attach to each other. They make the skin elastic and strong.
There are at least 16 types of collagen but 80-90% of the collagen in the body consists of types 1, 2 and 3. The interesting fact is that some types of collagen fibrils are stronger than steel.

What does collagen do?

In the middle layer of skin known as dermis, collagen helps form a fibrous cell network which is called fibroblasts. Thus, new cells can grow upon it. Collagen also helps replace and restore dead skin cells.
Some collagens perform a protective function: they act as coverings for delicate body organs, for example, the kidneys.

What does your body need to produce collagen?

Collagen is also produced in the body in a natural way by combining amino acids and for producing collagen your body needs:
– Proline (egg whites, dairy, cabbage, soy, mushrooms, asparagus)
– Anthocyanidins (blackberries, blueberries, cherries, raspberries)
– Glycine (pork skin, chicken skin, gelatin)
– Vitamin C (citrus fruits, bell peppers, broccoli)
– Zinc (beef, lamb, pork, shellfish, lentils, beans, milk, cheese, nuts, seeds)
– Copper (red meat, cocoa powder, cashews, lentils, sesame seeds)

What are the options for collagen use?

Due to its versatile range of functions, collagen and its supplements are  suitable for different  cosmetic and medical purposes.

Skin revitalization
Many beauty products containing collagen, like creams, serums or powders, promise to revitalize the skin by increasing collagen levels within the body but this is not exactly true because collagen molecules are too large to be absorbed through our skin. But such products do have some benefits as they improve skin hydration and its elasticity. Of course, without increasing collagen levels.

Thicker hair and healthier nails
Daily collagen supplements help increases in hair’s quantity, scalp coverage, and thickness if we speak in terms of women’s experiencing hair loss. The same with nails. They start grow faster and be fewer broken with collagen supplements. I used to take collagen supplements by Vital Proteins long before pregnancy for the overall health to make my hair and nails thicker and stronger.

Injections and fillers
Collagen injections can improve the contours of the skin. Fillers containing collagen may be used to lessen or remove wrinkles. Collagen can also help improve scars if they don’t have sharp edges.

Wound dressing
As collagen helps restore and replace dead skin cells, it can help heal wounds by attracting new skin cells to the wound area providing it with new tissue growth. Collagen dressings may be used if we speak about granulating wounds, necrotic wounds, second-degree burns and many others.

Treatment of osteoarthritis
For people suffering from knee osteoarthritis, collagen supplements help relieve pain and improve joint function.

Vascular prosthetics
Vascular prostheses, peripheral nerve regeneration, arterial reconstruction – these are the areas where we can speak about collagens benefits, especially in terms of tissue grafts.

What damages collagen?

Unfortunately, collagen doesn’t exist forever in the body. And there are factors that can deplete the collagen levels. There are smoking, UV light, high sugar consumption, autoimmune disorders and, of course, the aging process among them.

As you can understand from the above, collagen is protein and after entering our body, it’s split into amino acids used for the body’s needs.
And if you think of taking supplements, first make sure that you consume enough protein from food. Otherwise you’ll just throw money away.

If you really want to take care of yourself and your health, balance your nutrition and training. Let your meals be healthy, various and nutritious. And of course, work out on a regular basis. Only after that  you may feel how supplements work. Again, you’d better consult with your doctor about this topic.

And remember, whatever you do, you do it to yourself!