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Should you take collagen supplements?

  • A body protein, collagen is full of the amino acids proline and glycine, which help maintain and repair your skin, tendons, bones and joints.
  • Collagen production slows down as we age; eventually this leads to loss of skin elasticity, dry skin and wrinkles.
  • Most collagen supplements are made from animal or fish parts, then hydrolyzed, which make them easier to absorb.

A body protein, collagen includes the amino acids proline and glycine, which help maintain and repair your skin, tendons, bones and joints. As we age, collagen production slows and by the time we reach menopause, we can be losing up to a third of our collagen. This leads to a loss of skin elasticity which can cause dry skin and wrinkles, as well as a decrease in tendon, bone, joint and heart health.

How collagen supplements work

Most collagen supplements are made from fish and animal cartilage, bones and skin, as well as eggshells, which are then broken down with water, or “hydrolyzed.” This makes it easier for your body to absorb collagen. Some supplements come in the form of a capsule or tablet, others are a powder you mix into a hot drink or smoothie every day.

Benefits of collagen supplements:

There are several types of collagen and each has different benefits. For example, Types 1 and 3 from beef products, may support healthy skin, while Type 2 from chicken products aids in joint health. Overall, some of the common benefits to your health from collagen may include:

  • healthier joints
  • better skin and hair
  • improved muscle mass
  • less bone loss
  • improved heart health

Types of collagen supplements

There are many different types of collagen supplements that come from a variety of sources. That’s why you should do your research, read labels and choose a supplement that best meets your unique needs. Our bodies are composed of more than 20 amino acids, so consider a supplement that contains a good mix of them. Bovine collagen, Types 1 and 3, are the most common and easiest to absorb when hydrolyzed.

Support collagen absorption through what you eat

The best way to support collagen absorption is by eating a variety of plant-based foods including vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and beans. Plants provide a variety of phytonutrients which can help your body make collagen. The hype on bone broth? There is less calcium in one cup of bone broth than in 1 cup of navy beans. And, the collagen in bone broth is not absorbable as it has not been hydrolyzed.

Collagen supplement safety

Consuming collagen-rich foods like shark’s fin and pig’s feet to boost skin and bone health have been common for centuries in some Eastern cultures. Now Western science is testing how safe and effective collagen supplements are for skin, bone and joint health.  While more study is needed, so far improvements in skin elasticity and overall skin health have been seen with few side effects.

Because collagen’s source is animal and fish parts, most collagen supplements are not vegan or vegetarian friendly. Some experts warn that collagen supplements may contain heavy metals or other contaminants. Two to watch for and avoid are magnesium stearate and titanium dioxide.

Before starting any new supplement, do some research and talk to a registered dietitian, a licensed nutritionist, a pharmacist or your doctor.

 

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