What's the Deal With Collagen Supplements?
If you check out the shelves of any supplement store or browse healthy eating Instagram accounts, then you will probably come across a collagen peptide supplement. These collagen supplements seem like they could be the solution to many of our nutrition and health issues, but are they really?
If you did not know, collagen is one of the main proteins in our body. It firms skin, connective tissues, cartilage, hair, and our body uses it to build muscle. Collagen peptides, or hydrolyzed collagen, are the most common form of collagen supplement.
Hydrolyzed means it's easier to digest than complete collagen molecules. These peptides are usually administered in the form of an easily dissolvable, tasteless powder. This makes them simple to consume in hot beverages, smoothies, soups, and much more.
As we get older, the amounts of collagen we have in our body decreases. This contributes to why as we get older, our bone and joint health isn't quite what it used to be, and our skin gets wrinkly.
So, of course, people want to supplement with it.
Fortunately, lifestyle choices can help you preserve the collagen you have, like a healthy diet with an adequate amount of protein and proper hydration. Things like avoiding smoke and harmful exposure to the sun can help lessen the amount of collagen you lose over time. Advocates of collagen supplementation would argue that adding collagen to your nutritional intake regularly can help, also.
HOW DID COLLAGEN SUPPLEMENTS GET SO POPULAR?
These collagen supplements are getting a lot of attention right now because it is one of the few things we could be eating that can restore our skin elasticity while also providing other health benefits. Most people are familiar with it in a cosmetic sense as an ingredient in skin-care products. However, the health and wellness world is moving more toward beauty, starting within the body rather than outside. As people are looking more for the foods they can be eating to help prevent, cure, or treat anything associated with disease or aging.
There are many claimed benefits to collagen. The primary ones are younger-looking and healthier skin, as well as better joint health. This makes it appealing to those interested in performance and aesthetics alike. Some other claims are a decrease in osteoarthritis symptoms, improved gut health, help in muscle recovery after exercise, reduced cellulite, help resolving acne issues, and better sleep. These benefits come from the collagen itself or from the amino acids that are present in the supplement.
BUT DO THEY REALLY WORK?
This is where the situation gets a little bit sticky. Despite a lot of anecdotal evidence to the contrary, research supporting collagen's actual benefits is lacking. A few studies show that supplementation with collagen combined with vitamin C could promote tissue repair in athletes and prevent injuries. A few small studies suggest that collagen supplementation may improve skin elasticity. Even so, a large-scale clinical trial on diverse sample sizes is going to be needed before most clinicians can recommend the supplementation of collagen with confidence.
WHO SHOULD TAKE COLLAGEN SUPPLEMENTS?
Younger people will not see many benefits of collagen supplementation, as their body is still producing collagen. Also, if you're consuming an adequate amount of protein and foods rich in it, then you probably don't need a collagen supplement. However, it can't hurt to try out collagen supplementation for older individuals who have leaky gut or joint pain.
THE BOTTOM LINE
A diet rich in zinc, vitamin C, copper, and quality protein sources is critical for collagen production. This is the ideal place to start. More research is definitely needed on the benefits, but we know that collagen supplementation is generally safe. So, if you'd like to try it, consider tracking your intake in a journal and check-in with yourself after a month or so to see if you notice a difference. If you aren't perceiving the desired benefits, you might want to spend your money elsewhere and prioritize whole foods.
If you think you are interested in trying a collagen supplement, I recommend that you try this super tasty Skull Dust Keto Collagen Coffee Creamer from one of my favorite supplement companies, Black Magic Supply. Don't forget to use code 4DFIT for 15% off!