Ultimate Guide to Collagen: Nutrition Facts + Key Health Benefits
Get the expert info on collagen's nutrition and health benefits, and ways to add it to your diet.
WHAT IS COLLAGEN?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, making up about 30% of our total body protein (1). You can find collagen in our muscles, bones, skin, blood vessels, digestive organs, and connective tissues. The primary function of collagen is to give our organs and tissues their structure and shape. Collagen's unique triple helix shape makes it extremely durable and flexible, which allows our tissues to perform various functions, stretch, and withstand pressure without tearing.
TYPES OF COLLAGEN
Type 1 collagen is the strongest and most abundant type of collagen in the body. It plays a key role in holding our tissues together and giving our skin elasticity. It's also found in our tendons, bones, ligaments and organs – including the lining of our GI tract. Beef bone broth is a great source of type 1 collagen.
This type of collagen is used to build cartilage for our joints, tendons and ligaments. Type 2 collagen is key in preventing joint pain and arthritis (3). Chicken bone broth is a great source of type II collagen.
Type 3 collagen is found mostly in our skin, muscles, organs, and blood vessels. It's an essential component in preventing our blood vessels from rupturing.
KEY HEALTH BENEFITS OF COLLAGEN
01 - SUPPORTS HEALTHY HAIR + SKIN
Collagen gives our skin a firm and smooth appearance. As we age our collagen stores deplete by about 1% every year, eventually causing wrinkles and sagging skin (4). Thankfully, we may be able to replenish our collagen stores by incorporating more collagen in our diet. Several double-blind, randomized-controlled studies have found that supplementing with collagen for 8 weeks improved skin elasticity, moisture, wrinkles, and roughness (5 , 6). As an added bonus, one study also found that collagen supplementation improved hair volume, shine, thickness and growth (7). More research in needs to be done, but dietary collagen might just be the new, all natural anti-aging secret weapon.
02 - REPAIRS + PROTECTS JOINTS
Type II collagen is found within our cartilage and plays a key role in supporting our joints. The age-related decline in collagen is part of the reason why we experience stiff and painful joints as we get older. Athletes are also at risk for achy joints because of all the wear and tear on their cartilage, tendons, and ligaments. There is a growing body of research that suggests supplementing with collagen hydrolysate may help replenish collagen stores in our cartilage (3). Although more studies need to be done, several have shown that collagen hydrolysate supplementation is safe and may improve joint function in athletes and people with joint pain, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis (3, 8, 9, 10, 11).
03 - HELPS HEAL YOUR GUT
Do you find yourself getting sick often? Or maybe you have a ton of food sensitivities or strong food cravings? How about hormone imbalances or acne? Chances are you might have a condition called Leaky Gut Syndrome. Leaky Gut occurs when there is a separation between the tight junctions of your intestinal lining. This allows food particles, bacteria, chemicals, food additives and other potentially harmful substances to enter your blood stream, where they trigger your immune system to launch an attack on various tissues in your body. Collagen helps to heal leaky gut by providing key amino acids (glycine and glutamine) to support digestion and rebuild your gut lining (12).
05 - SUPPORTS LIVER DETOXIFICATION
Your liver is the primary organ responsible for detoxing your body from harmful internal and external toxins. Dietary collagen helps support liver detoxification because it provides key amino acids like glycine, that help form the potent endogenous (aka made in the body) anti-oxidants glutathione and uric acid.
06 - HOW TO ADD COLLAGEN TO YOUR DIET
Now that you know the health benefits of collagen, check out my favorite ways to incorporate this superfood in your diet.
Share your collagen tips and recipes in the comments below.
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Ricard-Blum, S. (2011). The Collagen Family. Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology, 3(1), a004978. http://doi.org/10.1101/cshperspect.a004978
Lodish H, Berk A, Zipursky SL, et al. Molecular Cell Biology. 4th edition. New York: W. H. Freeman; 2000. Section 22.3, Collagen: The Fibrous Proteins of the Matrix. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK21582/
Bello, A. E., & Oesser, S. (2006). Collagen hydrolysate for the treatment of osteoarthritis and other joint disorders:a review of the literature. Current Medical Research and Opinion,22(11), 2221-2232. doi:10.1185/030079906x148373
Ganceviciene, R., Liakou, A. I., Theodoridis, A., Makrantonaki, E., & Zouboulis, C. C. (2012). Skin anti-aging strategies. Dermato-Endocrinology, 4(3), 308–319. http://doi.org/10.4161/derm.22804
Proksch, E., Segger, D., Degwert, J., Schunck, M., Zague, V., & Oesser, S. (2014). Oral Supplementation of Specific Collagen Peptides Has Beneficial Effects on Human Skin Physiology: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Skin Pharmacology and Physiology,27(1), 47-55. doi:10.1159/000351376
Inoue, N., Sugihara, F., & Wang, X. (2016). Ingestion of bioactive collagen hydrolysates enhance facial skin moisture and elasticity and reduce facial ageing signs in a randomised double-blind placebo-controlled clinical study. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 96(12), 4077-4081. doi:10.1002/jsfa.7606
Glynis, A. (2012). A Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Study Evaluating the Efficacy of an Oral Supplement in Women with Self-perceived Thinning Hair. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, 5(11), 28–34.
Crowley, D. C., Lau, F. C., Sharma, P., Evans, M., Guthrie, N., Bagchi, M., … Raychaudhuri, S. P. (2009). Safety and efficacy of undenatured type II collagen in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee: a clinical trial. International Journal of Medical Sciences, 6(6), 312–321.
Bruyère, O., Zegels, B., Leonori, L., Rabenda, V., Janssen, A., Bourges, C., & Reginster, J. (2012). Effect of collagen hydrolysate in articular pain: A 6-month randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 20(3), 124-130. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2011.12.007
Flechsenhar, K., & Sebastianelli, W. (2007). 257 Long-Term Use Of Collagen Hydrolysate As A Nutritional Supplement In Athletes With Activity-Related Joint Pain. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, 15. doi:10.1016/s1063-4584(07)61889-5
Zdzieblik, D., Oesser, S., Gollhofer, A., & Koenig, D. (2017). Corrigendum: Improvement of activity-related knee joint discomfort following supplementation of specific collagen peptides. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 42(11), 1237-1237. doi:10.1139/apnm-2017-0693
Hering, N. A., & Schulzke, J. (2009). Therapeutic Options to Modulate Barrier Defects in Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Digestive Diseases, 27(4), 450-454. doi:10.1159/000233283
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