For centuries in Asian countries, collagen has been used to create healthy skin by boosting hydration and helping it to maintain elasticity. In the United States we typically think of skincare is something we manage externally rather than what we eat or drink. The benefits of collagen run much deeper than that skin. We can find benefits for sleep, mood, muscle growth, and bone health.
Collagen is an abundant protein in our body. It is made up of the amino acids glycine and proline. These amino acids work like building blocks for our skin, bones, cartilage, ligaments, blood vessels, teeth, and cornea. Collagen acts like the glue that holds our bodies together. Collagen proteins are too large to be absorbed by the skin so it is important to consume them to increase the amount our bodies are able to make and use.
There are sixteen types of collagen in our body. 80-90% of the collagen our body has is either Type I, Type II, or Type III. Collagen makes up 3/4s of the dry weight in our skin mean if we could weigh our skin separate from our body and remove the moisture most of it would be collagen.
Type I collagen makes up 90% of our body's collagen. It is made of densely packed fibers. This is what gives our skin, bones, tendons, fibrous cartilage, connective tissue, and teeth their structure.
Type II is made of more loosely packed fibers and found in eleastic cartilage that cushons our joints.
Type III collagen supports our muscles, organs, and arteries.
Type IV collagen helps wit hfiltration, we can find this in the layers of our skin.
Collagen is not only good for our skin but also for creating healthy hair and strong nails. So consuming collagen may decrease broken nails and split ends.
Glycine is an amino acid considered to be helpful for sleep. It may help one fall asleep faster and experience improved sleep quality. Glycine also helps our body produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter thought to regulate mood, happiness, and anxiety. Serotonin also acts as building block for melatonin, the “sleep hormone”.
Cartilage is the substance that helps protect and cushion our joints. Collagen is said to hold together our cartilage so those who experience joint discomfort may find some relief when consuming collagen over time.
Creatine is a compound that helps build muscle and also gives us the fuel we need for performance such as in sports. Collagen is rich in the amino acids arginine and glycine which the body uses to make creatine.
Collagen may also help with inflammation in the digestive tract as well as making blood vessels soft and supple making the blood flow easier.
Since collagen is said to be the building block for our tissues and bones it may also aid in wound healing and injuries such as bone breaks or sprains.
Not all supplements are created equal. When looking at collagen it is important to find grass-fed bovine hydrolyzed collagen, grass-fed bovine gelatin, or Type II collagen for joint support. It is also important to know that the two amino acids glycine and proline are activated by Vitamin C so getting enough Vitamin C is important. Vitamin c can be found in raw sauerkraut, citrus fruits, strawberries, kiwi, cauliflower, broccoli, tomatoes, dark greens, and peppers. Copper and Zinc are also needed for collagen production. Good sources of copper are cashews, oysters, crab, and sunflower seeds. Zinc can be found in oysters, poultry, meat, pumpkin seeds, cashews, almonds, and dairy products.
As always, this is not medical advice, rather simply information for you to use to discuss with your health care provider. This information is not intended to diagnose or treat a condition.