Collagen is a growing trend in the health and wellness industry, but is it worth it?
Here is a quick overview of what collagen does, whether or not collagen supplements work, and what to look for in a supplement if you are looking to boost your collagen levels.
WHAT DOES COLLAGEN DO?
Collagen is a protein. It is one of the most abundant proteins found in the human body. Think of collagen as the glue that holds everything together.
Collagen is an essential part of your skin, hair, nails, and other connective tissues. Collagen helps give your skin structure. It also helps strengthen your bones.
When people are young, collagen is the protein that helps their skin stay smooth and keeps their hair shiny. It is the protein that helps us remain youthful and healthy-looking.
As we age, our collagen stores begin to deplete at a rate faster than we can replace them with. This is when the wrinkles start setting in and the nails and hair start needing some extra care. Since collagen stores start depleting as we age, many people hope they can reverse that trend by taking collagen supplements of some sort. The most common type of collagen treatment used to be injections. They were used to make lips plumper and skin smoother. But collagen injections have been overtaken in popularity by collagen creams and supplements. People use creams hoping to get the collagen to absorb into their skin, while people who take collagen supplements hope that their bodies will digest the collagen and send it wherever it is needed within the body.
So, the important question we should all be asking ourselves is not, “What collagen supplements are out there,” but, “Do collagen supplements work?”
DO COLLAGEN SUPPLEMENTS WORK?
The simple answer is, yes they can. The fact is, collagen is a protein, and research shows that proteins help improve skin, hair, nail, and connective tissue health. So, it is less a matter of whether collagen supplements work and more a matter of how to make them work best for you. There is at least one thing you need to understand in order to make your collagen supplements work best for you. Collagen is protein and proteins are just a series of amino acids. Your body breaks down collagen into different amino acids.
Ultimately, those amino acids will be reused by the body wherever it needs them most, and if your nutrition is lacking in the proper nutrients, your body will not send those proteins and amino acids to your hair, skin, and nails. Long story short – you need to make sure you are consuming an optimal level of total protein daily. If you do not consume enough protein throughout the day (aside from taking a collagen supplement), your results will be less than ideal. This is why you have to remember that a supplement does just that, it supplements your current health efforts, it does not fix them. So, to help improve your efforts you need to be getting enough protein so that the specific amino acids packed into your collagen supplements can be used where and how they were intended. The key is to make sure you are getting enough protein, rest, and water on a consistent basis, so your body can start using those aminos for something other than basic maintenance. That being said, if you are doing your part to stay healthy, nourished, and fit, a good collagen supplement can be a great option for you.
WHAT MAKES A GREAT COLLAGEN SUPPLEMENT?
Obviously, when it comes to your health, and more specifically, the things you put into your body, quality matters.
YOUR COLLAGEN SUPPLEMENT SHOULD BE DIVERSE
You can, and should, get your protein from a variety of different sources. Different foods come with different kinds of amino acids, and you need as many of them as possible to be at your healthiest, happiest self on a consistent basis.
The ideal collagen supplement will be derived from at least four or five different sources to maximize the diversity of the amino acid profile.
YOUR COLLAGEN SUPPLEMENT SHOULD BE PHYTONUTRIENT-RICH
Phytonutrients do a lot of good things for your body. Phytonutrients act as antioxidants, which means they can help manage free radicals inside the body – lessening the damage to the cells in our bodies and reducing inflammation. They are also thought to help give people a boost in immunity, meaning you are less likely to get sick if you have a good source of them in your diet. Another thing phytonutrients do is to help increase the elastin in your body. Elastin helps keep your skin’s elasticity and firmness, preventing both wrinkles and sagging. The other benefits are great, but the increase in elastin is the primary reason why you will want to make sure your collagen supplement has added phytonutrients in it.
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