Collagen for Skin, Hair, and Joints

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Yes, everyone is talking about it. Some of you may be using it. The “it” is collagen. We all know how important it is for any skincare product to make claims about “boosting” our collagen. This means that the product is enhancing our skin’s glow and elasticity. However, we’ve moved beyond merely slathering on creams. Now we need to understand collagen’s benefits delivered by what we eat.

But, let’s back up a little bit. What exactly is collagen? Collagen is the body’s most abundant protein found in bones, muscles, joints, skin, tendons, teeth, and more. Think of collagen as a support structure. It keeps us agile. It promotes healthy skin, hair and nails, and supports our gut health as well.

Just as collagen smoothes our skin, it also keeps the lining of our gut not only smooth but strong. A strong gut lining means our small intestine is able to do its duty as gatekeeper. It lets necessary nutrients in, while keeping out harmful substances.

After age 40 our production of collagen declines. Decreased production can be seen in dry and thinning hair, brittle bones, and loose, sagging skin. Our gut can suffer as well if we are prone to a poor diet, lots of antibiotics, bacterial and fungal overgrowth.

Now the for the good news. One of the most bioavailable methods of increasing your collagen intake is by eating bone broth. There are numerous books, blog posts, and sites dedicated to detailing the benefits of bone broth. It is an ancient remedy for “all that ails you.” The power of easily digested collagen in bone broth helps you reap the benefits of important amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids. And I love a simple recipe. Bones, water. You can add vegetables or herbs, but it really is that simple.

However, for those of you out there who don’t have the time (or inclination) to commit to preparing this on your own, there are plenty of powders and supplements that can help you. What is essential to look out for is a product that is non-gmo and free from added fillers.

Added vitamin C and hyaluronic acid are fine as these are molecules that promote skin health. Ideally, your collagen should also be hormone and antibiotic free. Wild (marine), grass or pasture-fed animals are also ideal.

In powder form, the color of high quality collagen should be white. You can use powdered gelatin or collagen hydrolysate, also called collagen peptides. Hydrolyzed means that enzymes were added to the protein to help break it down. This is key for supplements to make them easier to digest and to easily add to things like soups and smoothies.

By the way, remember Jello-O? That is powdered gelatin. Sadly, it is packed with fillers and tons of sugar.

Vegetarian Options? Currently, there is no vegan source of collagen. However, I’ll put in a plug for green tea as it supports collagen growth and helps prevent it from breaking down. Even though plant foods don’t contain collagen, they can boost collagen. Vegetables high in vitamin C, B complex, A, D, E are great. Minerals for collagen health are: silicon, sulfur, and copper. Some examples are: tomatoes, red peppers, spinach, and swiss chard.

The bottom line? There are no miracle cures or magic fixes. (Although I’m still holding out for unicorns.) Think of adding collagen to your smoothies and soups as part of your vitality tool-kit.

Now when it comes to bone broth soup? I’m a true believer.

Resources

1.Daily consumption of the collagen supplement Pure Gold Collagen reduces visible signs of aging, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4206255/

2.Skin, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/10978-skin

3.Will Collagen Supplement Really Make You Any Healthier? https://www.womenshealthmag.com/health/a19995031/collagen-supplements/

 

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