Dr. Nada Milosavljevic
COLLAGEN SUPPLEMENTS: WHAT'S THE HYPE ALL ABOUT?
What is collagen? It’s the most abundant protein in your body, and since it helps to keep the body held together and resilient, it’s especially effective in compensating for problems related to our bones and skin. Human beings make collagen naturally - but as people get older, they become less capable of absorbing nutrients or synthesizing them. This is why collagen supplements have become so popular: they can compensate for deficiencies as we age.
Specifically, collagen has been known to help with skin elasticity, arthritis, and a common condition called Sarcopenia (the loss of muscle mass with age).
Aging skin can become wrinkled; it’s a fact of life (and something many people try to avoid). While sun exposure has its own impact on your skin, aging alone can decrease both the quality and quantity of the natural collagen your skin uses. Collagen supplements (specifically oral administration of bovine collagen) have been shown to compensate for collagen decreases and help maintain skin elasticity, making collagen a popular anti-aging tool.
Collagen supplements can also help a lot with arthritis, a painful disease in which the body has an autoimmune response against its own cartilage. While it’s still not clear whether the collagen stimulates production of more cartilage or whether it lessens the severity of the autoimmune response, it is clear that it can be a big help in relieving joint pain when taken orally (through a capsule or powder)
Lastly, collagen can help with a condition called Sarcopenia - a loss of muscle mass that can happen to almost everybody. As we age, we lose muscle mass - and this increases the possibility of falls and bone breaks. As we live longer we want to maintain vitality and mobility. Collagen can play a part in that equation. A recent study found that a combination of weight training and collagen supplements can help to combat Sarcopenia by aiding in increasing muscle strength and fat free muscle mass.
So, where can you find collagen? It’s become widely available - with one of the most popular and familiar sources being bone broth, which takes collagen out of the bones of fish, chicken, or beef. When it comes to other collagen supplements (powder or pill form), it’s important to understand where the collagen is coming from. Look for companies that acquire their collagen via bones and tissues of cage-free, free-range, and antibiotic-free sources.
It’s not a fountain of youth, but collagen does help to make our bones, muscles, and skin strong and youthful - and collagen supplements can help these essential parts of our bodies maintain their vigor.