Collagen is a protein that your body makes naturally. It is responsible for healthy joints and skin elasticity. It is in your bones, muscles and blood comprising three-quarters of your skin and a third of the protein in your body. Collagen is made up of three amino acids; glycine, proline and hydroxyproline. The human body makes these amino acids naturally, aided by a healthy diet that consists of protein, lifestyle choices and in some cases collagen supplements. So what is the importance of collagen and how is it beneficial to you?
Your body naturally makes collagen and it is important for the functioning of the human body – it is responsible for the skin’s structure, elasticity, texture, strength and resilience, it is responsible for joint health, strong bones and muscle mass. Collagen as a natural protein works with your body for a variety of reasons which is why it is important to have sufficient collagen to aid the full functioning of your body. The key takeaway about collagen is that it is one of the main building blocks for our skin, also found in our bones, tendons and ligaments. What are the health benefits of collagen?
Collagen can improve your skin’s health
Collagen is responsible for the elasticity, texture and structure of the skin. The skin is the largest organ of the human body, and collagen helps to maintain the youthfulness, resilience and toughness of the skin – this is evident in smooth, wrinkle-free skin that is fully hydrated. The key takeaway of collagen for the skin is it gives it structure and support. However, as you get older, the collagen in your body begins to degrade and break down resulting in visible wrinkles caused by reduced elasticity. This is completely natural as the older you get, your body produces less collagen. But your skin needs and requires collagen for the functioning of your body, and this can be supported by supplements or a diet rich with protein foods that aid the body in making the collagen naturally.
Collagen can improve your bone and muscle health
The healing and recovery of a knee injury, strained muscle or strained ligament are all aided by collagen in the body. The human body naturally responds to healing scars and wounds, where the protein collagen plays a crucial role. As collagen is a major component of the skin, it further becomes a connective tissue to bone cartilage, muscle tendons and ligaments. Collagen relieves muscle and joint pain, this can be evident in degenerative joint disorders such as osteoarthritis or fitness and exercise for athletes. Collagen supplements will help improve joint pain in fitness for athletes and slow the ageing process that comes with osteoarthritis because joints are composed of cartilage which is largely made up of collagen.
Collagen enhancing foods
As you get older moving into your thirties and forties, the existing collagen in your body begins to break down. This is completely natural as the body produces less collagen on its own. The breakdown of the protein is determined by your lifestyle choices (smoking or drinking) and your diet (processed sugars), which aids the creation of free radicals that can speed up the breakdown and damage of the natural protein. Foods rich in protein can help your body create natural protein such as beef, chicken, pork, whole grains, nuts, citrus fruits and bone broth. The combination with natural collagen and protein foods is that of absorption – your body absorbs the nutrients and components of collagen that include proline, glycine, vitamin c, zinc and copper; all of which are the building amino acids of collagen. In turn, this helps your body create the much needed protein that aids in the full functioning of your body by reducing wrinkles, alleviating joint pain and building bone density as your body naturally responds to dietary consumption. To further enhance collagen through diet is to also adopt new and positive lifestyle choices, that include cutting out smoking, alcohol consumption and managing exposure to UV light that adds to the breakdown of your natural collagen over time.
Collagen supplements can come in the form of capsule tablets, powder form, topical creams and oil, and the recent trend of surgical treatment through your dermatologist. As with collagen enhancing foods, the goal is to increase collagen production in the body and with some supplements is to increase the uptake and storage of the protein in the body. As collagen is both beneficial and essential to the human body, supplements can become a great alternative as you get older, it all really comes down to what works for your lifestyle. Collagen powders and capsules are most recognised as ‘collagen peptides’. Powders can be consumed in beverages such as coffee, smoothie or can be mixed in soup or dessert such as ice cream without actually affecting the food nor have any side effects. Topical creams and oils will be most recognised in the category of beauty products as anti-wrinkle or anti-ageing creams and serums usually with components of calcium and vitamin c, with one particularly popular ingredient called retinol. The knowledge behind collagen creams and oils is that they enhance the production of collagen to achieve younger looking skin as they lock in moisture and plump up hydration, with much greater concentration on the facial enhancement of collagen. Surgical treatments are procedures undertaken by your dermatologist that increase collagen production thereby improving your skin. Treatments can be in the form of laser treatments, radiofrequency, ultrasound, micro-needling and fillers. Make sure to consult with your dermatologist on the best surgical treatment for your skin and possibly your lifestyle before undertaking any form of treatment.
Collagen is a vital component of the human body that aids in the full functioning of the body as it accounts for a third of the protein in your body. This makes collagen not only important but crucial for your body to heal, function and operate. As a vital and natural component, collagen requires a protein rich diet to continue to help your body make the protein, combined with healthy supplements that aid your body with collagen production.