Collagen supplements, powders, skincare products, it seems like collagen is everywhere. The word ‘collagen’ comes from an ancient Greek word meaning glue. Collagen is the protein matrix that all the minerals bind to for healthy bones. Premature wrinkles can be a sign that something is going on with our collagen. We often think about collagen for our hair, skin and nails; but it has additional benefits too.
Collagen’s Many Functions
- Strong, flexible bones are dependent upon the quality of our collagen. The better the quality, the more resistant we are to bone breaks. Flexibility is as important as density.
- Collagen is the main component of ligaments and tendons, it helps to repair tissue damage and holds organs in place. Connective tissue also plays a role in vascular health (e.g., easy bruising, blood building).
- Collagen is the most abundant protein in humans, making up to 25-35% of our whole body protein. Collagen contributes to building and strengthening our muscles. Muscle has an inverse relationship with both fat and inflammation. Lean muscle mass directly correlates with longevity and quality of life.
- A decrease in both collagen and elasticity leads to ‘aging skin’. Skin is 75% collagen. Collagen quantity decreases 1% per year starting at age 21. We also lose 7% in skin thickness every 10 years after. And women – we can experience a loss of as much as 30% of collagen in the first five years of menopause. That is a lot of collagen!
Collagen production requires both amino acids to form collagen, and enzymes for the maturation process of collagen. Because there are many variables involved in the production and regulation of collagen, there are things we can do to both support and optimize collagen and its functions.
- High collagen foods once broken down into amino acids are then absorbed in our bodies. Bone broth is an excellent source of collagen.
- Eating foods rich in vitamin C and amino acids can increase collagen levels in our bodies.
- When supplementing with collagen, opt for collagen peptides which is easier to digest and absorb than whole collagen.
- Collagen supports healthy hair, and pairing it with a stabilized silica can not only help hair grow more quickly, but also increase the diameter of the hair follicle shaft.
- DHEA supports collagen production and improves the strength of collagen, supporting ligaments and tendons.
- Pairing collagen with a stabilized silica and choline helps to pull collagen into our bodies. Homocysteine is an amino acid, and when elevated it leads to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease. Homocysteine also hinders collagen production and negatively affects connective tissue. But because silica and choline compete with homocysteine, adding these nutrients into your diet or supplement routine, supports collagen production and connective tissue health.
- HMB (hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate), a metabolite of the amino acid leucine, turns on the enzymes involved in collagen production and the production of proteins needed to build muscle. HMB is found in dairy, beef, chicken and soy.
- Curcuminoids (oils from curcumin) not only absorb better than curcumin alone, but also promote collagen production while lowering inflammation. Approximately 90% of curcumin supplements sold use toxic solvents to extract the oils. Opt for a curcumin with the curcuminoids that have been extracted without toxic solvents.