By: Kelly Morgan
Many people have heard of collagen in a beauty context, like in face masks and skincare, but collagen is so much more!
Collagen is a protein your body makes, and it’s found in your bones, blood, skin, and muscles. It accounts for a third of the proteins in your body.
Benefits of Collagen
Collagen, through food or nutritional supplements, provides a variety of health benefits.
- Improved skin strength, elasticity, and hydration
- Relieved joint pain and healthier cartilage
- Less bone loss
- Boosted muscle mass to combat what is lost with age
- Improved heart health by providing structure, elasticity, and flexibility to your arteries
- Improved levels of HDL (good) cholesterol
- Stronger and longer nails
- Stronger, thicker, and longer hair
As we age, existing collagen starts to break down, causing joint issues, dry, saggy skin, decreased bone density, and decreased muscle mass - just to name a few. In addition to existing collagen breaking down, it gets harder for our bodies to create more of it.
Though aging reduces collagen, the biggest collagen production killers are from behavioral and environmental factors, like too much sun exposure, smoking, excess alcohol consumption, a sedentary lifestyle, and a lack of sleep.
So, what do we do?
Collagen from Diet
Several foods can naturally increase your collagen intake, including:
- Bone broth
- Tough cuts of meat with connective tissue (e.g., brisket, chuck steak)
Vitamin C is important for collagen synthesis, so you should also eat foods rich in Vitamin C, like citrus, bell peppers, and broccoli.
I would usually stress getting your nutrition through food sources, but in this case, research has found that these food sources may not have the same benefits as collagen supplements because the collagen in supplements is thought to be absorbed more efficiently than collagen from food.
Collagen from Supplements
Collagen supplements have many health benefits and few known risks. They are generally safe and easy to use, though you should be careful if you have allergies.
In addition to the amino acids that make up collagen, supplements usually also contain additional nutrients like Vitamin C, biotin, and zinc that enhance the benefits.
My trusted collagen supplement is RSP Nutrition’s AvoCollagen. It’s high quality and combines premium hydrolyzed collagen peptides with nutrient-dense avocado oil to create a unique (and safe) supplement.
For more nutritional advice on how to live a healthy active lifestyle, check out Kelly's book "You, But Better"