Collagen is a growing trend in the health and wellness industry, but is it worth it?
In this article, we’ll explain what collagen does, and whether or not collagen supplements work. We’ll also talk about what alternatives there are to collagen.
What Does Collagen Do?
Collagen is a protein. In fact, it is one of the most abundant proteins found in the human body. Think of collagen as the glue that holds everything together, Collagen is an essential part of your skin, hair, nails, and other connective tissues. Collagen helps give your skin structure. It also helps strengthen your bones.
When people are young, collagen is the protein which helps their skin stay smooth and keeps their hair shiny. It’s the protein which helps us remain youthful and healthy looking. As we age, our collagen stores begin to deplete at a rate faster than we can replace them with. This is when the wrinkles start setting in and the nails and hair start needing some extra care.
Since collagen stores start depleting as we age, many people hope they can reverse that trend by taking collagen supplements of some sort. The most common type of collagen treatment used to be injections. They were used to make lips plumper and skin smoother. That being said, collagen injections have fallen out of favor for alternative forms of treatment.
These alternatives include collagen creams and supplements. People use creams hoping to get the collagen to absorb into their skin, while people who take collagen supplements hope that their bodies will digest the collagen and send it wherever it is needed within the body.
The important question we should all be asking ourselves is not, “What collagen supplements are out there,” but, “Do collagen supplements work?”
Do Collagen Supplements Work?
This is a tough question to answer.
There is some evidence that shows that collagen supplements can help somewhat, but these aren’t the miracle cures that some supplement companies are promising. Dr. Mark Moyad, the director of complementary and alternative medicine at the University of Michigan Medical Center, says that too many people treat collagen supplements as if they’re miracle cures for aging, when they’re not.
Dr. Moyad is of the belief that supplements, just like prescription drugs, have certain benefits and side effects. Taking more than the recommended dose isn’t going to enhance those benefits and may make the side effects even more dangerous. So, even though the science behind collagen supplements is young and not fully fleshed out, if you’re going to take collagen supplements, be sure to take them as recommended.
This last point is an important one to bring up too. Even if there are benefits to collagen supplements, we’re not entirely sure how strong those benefits really are. That’s mainly because the science behind collagen supplements is new. Plus there are many factors that would play into the benefit that someone would see from a collagen supplement. For example, their diet, protein intake, stress, sleep cycles, and other lifestyle habits that directly impact their normal collagen production.
The fact is, although we know that collagen helps improve skin, hair, nail, and connective tissue health, there’s not a lot of evidence that collagen supplements themselves work very well. Collagen is rich in protein but your stomach treats it like it does any other type of protein out there.
Meaning it digests it, breaking the whole protein into individual amino acids.
Ultimately, those amino acids will be reused by the body however it sees fit. Sure, some of it might be reused to make usable collagen, but ultimately a lot of it probably isn’t going to smoothing out those wrinkles of yours. Plus it is feared that for many creams and powders, the molecules in the topical products are too large for your skin to actually absorb.
Since we’re unsure how useful straight collagen supplements are, we might as well rely on other treatment methods that have been proven to be effective.
What Can I Use Instead Of Collagen?
Collagen is a protein that your body makes naturally with the amino acids it has already. Ingesting collagen is simply giving your body more amino acids. It’s not going to just take the collagen from your stomach and put it elsewhere. It still has to break the protein down and use it to build something else. Your body might be able to make some collagen from those aminos, but it’s likely going to use those aminos to build, what it sees as, more essential proteins.
So what are you supposed to do?
The answer is actually pretty straightforward. Consume more protein.
The more protein you have, the more aminos you have. The more aminos you have, the more excess your body has to turn into nonessential collagen. The easiest way to do this is by consuming protein powders if you struggle to get in adequates amount of protein through whole foods alone. Using a high-quality protein powder like Level-1 or Phormula-1 can add a lot of protein to your diet without adding a lot to your calorie consumption.
Make sure that whatever protein shake supplement you take is a complete protein. You’ll want to make sure you’re getting all of the aminos you need, and then some, so that way your body has enough to turn into collagen.
If you don’t have time to make a shake, or need something even more convenient, you can look into adding Level-1 Bars to your day, or at least having them around for a snack when needed! We would recommend whole food sources first, then protein powder (Level-1 or Phormula-1), then Level-1 Bars.
You also want to make sure that your body has the right vitamins, minerals, and essential nutrients for proper collagen production as well. Using a product with proven ingredients like Hair Skin Nails Essentials to help with overall collagen production helps to fix the root problem, nutrient deficiency.
1st Phorm Offers Quality Whey Protein Supplements
Whether you’re looking for a quality protein powder or a protein bar, 1st Phorm has something that will fit your lifestyle and your needs. This way you can make sure you are getting in enough protein so your body can fulfill its needs. If you have any questions or need any help in working protein into your day, please never hesitate to reach out!
*This post was written by Will Grumke. He is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist, NASM Certified Weight Loss Specialist, NASM Certified Behavioral Change Specialist, and CrossFit Level 1 Trainer