Nutritionists and health experts have an arsenal of foods and supplements they recommend every individual consume. This set is what lays the bricks for a foundation of good health. What’s in this set? For starters, a diet rich in nutrition – an abundance of fruits, fibre-rich vegetables, whole proteins, and healthy fats (like avocadoes and plant oils) to promote brain health.
Then follows the typical (but still useful) advice to avoid processed foods and unhealthy habits. Next comes promoting a balance in lifestyle by pursuing activities outside of work to keep your mind and body happy – things like working out, meditation, and reading.
And finally, we’re left with a list of recommended supplements to fill in the gaps between your current diet and ideal nutrition targets. This includes an array of vitamins and mineral supplements like Vitamin C, Vitamin D, zinc, and iron. But the one supplement that health experts are recommending now more than ever? Collagen. Nutritionists recommend collagen to reduce joint pain and degeneration, improve elasticity of the skin, strengthen hair and nails, and heal certain digestive issues – things we would all like a little help with.
Let’s look at each of these in a little more detail:
1. Collagen for Joint Pain
A joint is the point at which certain parts of the skeletal structure meet. For example, the thigh bone and shin bone meet to create the knee joint. The elbow joint is created through the connection of the upper arm bone and forearm bones. There are somewhere between 200 and 400 joints in the body – each of which is held together by ligaments, a type of connective tissue that connects the bones. What are these ligaments made of? Proteins, with the most abundant protein being none other than collagen!
As we age, collagen production decreases and our bones become fragile. A collagen supplement is an excellent way to help your body synthesize more collagen to help reduce joint discomfort and improve mobility.
Joint pain is also common among high-performance athletes. In fact, the number one complaint runners, cyclists, and swimmers have is knee pain and arthritis symptoms. In a 24-week study1 on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain, the following was found: “athletes consuming collagen hydrolysate can reduce parameters (such as pain) that have a negative impact on athletic performance”.
2. Collagen for Skin Health, Hair, & Nails
Healthy skin – it’s firm, plump and wrinkle-free. As we age, however, all these qualities deteriorate as collagen production slows down. The skin sags, lines and dark spots appear around the crevices of your face, and the healthy glow you once had dulls down. Women in particular notice a decline in collagen following menopause.
There is a whole beauty industry dedicated to anti-aging products (like creams, serums, and masks) – but what they’re forgetting is that it’s what you ingest into your body that plays the most critical role.
Collagen is resorbable – this means it can be used by the body again when consumed orally. This allows your body to maintain it’s ability to create new skin cells and replace and restore dead skin cells.
In a recent 2015 study2 conducted on the effect of collagen peptides on skin elasticity, hydration, and wrinkles, this was validated. It was found that “a combination of hydrolyzed collagen and hyaluronic acid, together with other ingredients, when consumed orally for 9 weeks can significantly reduce the depth of wrinkles, whereas there was no significant reduction with placebo. In fact, there was 8% reduction in wrinkle depth in the group taking the test product, which was found to be significant.”
Furthermore, the study also demonstrated “significant benefit of the test product on skin hydration of individuals consuming it on a daily basis. The water content of the dermis increased by 14% at week 6 from the baseline value. These same principles apply to hair and nails because collagen is also the primary building block for both!
3. Collagen for Digestive Issues
A poor diet is the root cause of most health problems – most notably the ones in your gut. What can you do to help ease digestive troubles? Your go-to is probably probiotics. They help populate your gut with friendly bacteria while also easing constipation and/or loose stools so that a healthy medium is restored.
Collagen is a wonderful complement to probiotics. It contains a wide variety of amino acids that support the production of bile and stomach acid while also promoting liver detoxification. This is especially useful for those dealing with digestive disorders like leaky gut and GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease).
Pointers for Purchase
- When you set out to buy a collagen supplement, there’s one key word that absolutely should be on your radar – tryptophan. In short, collagen does not contain all the essential amino acids, unless you add tryptophan. It’s the missing link that completes collagen’s amino acid profile, helping to improve its protein quality.
- The next point – always keep an eye out for Vitamin C. Your body can’t use a collagen supplement unless there is a healthy dose of Vitamin C added to it.
- Make sure the collagen is sourced from pasture-raised, grass fed cattle. This helps ensure the formula is free from both antibiotics and added hormones.
1 Clark KL, Sebastianelli W, Flechsenhar KR, Aukermann DF, Meza F, Millard RL, Deitch JR, Sherbondy PS, Albert A. 24-Week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain. Curr Med Res Opin. 2008 May;24(5):1485-96. doi: 10.1185/030079908X291967. Epub 2008 Apr 15. PubMed PMID: 18416885.
2 Borumand M, Sibilla S. Effects of a nutritional supplement containing collagen peptides on skin elasticity, hydration and wrinkles. Journal of Medical Nutrition & Nutraceuticals. 2014 December 05; 4(1):47 – 53.