What is Collagen Good For?

What is Collagen Good For?

Have you ever wondered how skin holds its shape? How can it be so malleable, strong, and soft all at the same time?

Well, your skin has a secret, and that secret is a protein called collagen.

Collagen makes up 30% of the protein in your body, which is pretty wild if you ask me. It’s an important building block for all kinds of different tissues.

Collagen also makes up 70–80% of the dry weight of your skin (1)! 

So, it’s a pretty important protein, but how does your body get it? What is collagen good for? How can you get more collagen? 

Let’s dive into those questions and learn all about what collagen is good for.

What Is Collagen? 

Collagen is a protein found in your skin, muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, and more. It’s a pretty important structural piece of all those tissues.

Compared to other proteins, collagen has a lot more proline, hydroxyproline, and glycine. This could explain what makes collagen so unique.

Because of this, your body needs these amino acids to synthesize collagen. You’ll also need the proper amount of vitamin C, zinc, copper, and manganese.

More on that later, though!

You see, when you’re young, your body produces collagen at full strength. As you get older, though, your natural production of collagen decreases. This is totally normal.

In fact, your collagen levels peak around ages 25-34 and then begin dropping after that (2).

That’s why people can start to develop wrinkles and other symptoms of collagen loss during their 40s and 50s.

To prevent some of these effects, many people use collagen supplements. That's because taking collagen can help support your body’s natural collagen production. That may seem obvious, but it's true!

Think of it as providing the materials your body needs to make your own collagen. It would be no different than providing someone with bricks to build a brick wall. Your body treats exogenous collagen the same!

You’re giving your body the specific amino acids and nutrients it needs to make collagen. That makes producing collagen naturally easier for your body. 

Now that we’ve covered what it is, let’s dive a little deeper into what collagen can help with.

What Is Collagen Good For? 

Collagen does a lot of work behind the scenes for your body. What does collagen help with specifically, though?

Collagen Can Support Skin Health

Collagen makes up most of your skin and helps give your skin its moisture and structure (3). There are other proteins involved too, but collagen is the most prominent.

For that reason, adding collagen to your diet can help maintain healthy skin. Who doesn’t want that?!

Collagen Can Support Joint Health

Collagen is also found in your cartilage which is an important part of each of your joints. It’s one of the proteins that helps cushion your joints. 

As you make less collagen throughout the years, the collagen in your joints can break down too.

That can lead to the development of osteoarthritis, which is the most common form of arthritis. It's also one of the reasons most of the people dealing with joint pain are older.

They have less collagen in their joints, leading to pain and other problems over time.

The “wear and tear” from everyday life causes the cartilage to break down. The problem is they’re not making enough collagen to replace it. Eventually, this can even lead to some of your joints being bone-on-bone.

That’s painful!

Taking collagen supplements can help though! Studies actually show that taking collagen can help reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis (4).

As I mentioned earlier ... If you are going to repair something in your body, you must give your body the materials it needs to do so. 

Taking collagen gives your body what it needs to rebuild broken-down cartilage (5). If you want to stay away from joint pain, this could be a great strategy!

Collagen Can Support Bone Strength

Oddly enough, collagen is actually a major component of your bone mass. I would have never guessed that if I didn’t already know it to be true.

When collagen breaks down in your bones, that can make them more brittle. Adding more collagen to your body can have the opposite effect; making them stronger. 

In fact, research has found that taking collagen can increase the density of your bones (6). In addition to all the minerals that make up your bones, collagen plays a role in bone strength.

With older women having a higher risk of osteoporosis, taking collagen may be a very good idea. It could potentially help to prevent some of the loss of bone tissue that causes it.

Collagen Can Support Muscle Mass

When you work out, you’re creating micro-tears in your muscle fibers. This breakdown is what signals the body to repair and grow new muscle.

Collagen actually plays a role in this. 

You see, collagen makes up 1-10% of your muscle tissue (7). It’s a crucial part of your muscles too.

Collagen helps provide elasticity for your muscles (8), which is important. Anytime your muscles stretch, you want them to be able to return back to their resting length.

Collagen also plays a role in the transfer of contractile forces from your muscles to your tendons (8). Without that transmission, you wouldn’t be able to move properly.

So to sum that up, your muscles need collagen to function properly. It’s as simple as that.

Collagen Can Support Hair and Nail Strength

Collagen also makes up large portions of your hair and nails. That’s why it’s usually advertised for hair and nail health!

It’s an important protein for keeping your hair moisturized, which is what helps it grow strong and shiny. 

Collagen can also improve nail growth and reduce brittle nails (9).

Types of Collagen 

If this isn't your first time researching collagen, you've likely heard there are multiple types of it. That is correct!

There are 28 types of collagen out there, but only five of which are extra important for the human body.

These are the five main types of collagen your body needs: 

Type I: Found in skin, bones, tendons, and ligaments. It provides strength and structure.

Type II: Primarily found in cartilage, supporting joint flexibility and cushioning.

Type III: Found in internal organs, blood vessels, and skin. Works with Type I for skin elasticity and tissue repair.

Type V: Found in the cornea, some layers of skin and hair, and the placenta. Supports cell surfaces and hair strands.

Type X: Found primarily in new bone formation, and in articular cartilage.

Collagen supplements will often contain some of these forms, but most often they’ll have only 2-3 of them. If you want to maximize the benefits of collagen, I'd make sure to find a supplement that has all five!

Foods with Collagen 

When your body stops making as much collagen, you may want to look for ways to boost your collagen intake. While a high-quality supplement will have the highest concentrations of collagen from different types ... Some foods are high in collagen as well.

Here are some examples of foods high in collagen: 

• Bone broth
• Pork skin or rinds
• Chicken skin and cartilage
• Fish skin and scales
• Organ meats (like liver, heart, and kidney)
• Gelatin

Obviously, I don't think many of us are licking our lips over these options. The good news is, there are other foods that can be helpful.

I'm talking about the foods that provide the nutrients the body needs to produce collagen. These foods can then help increase collagen production in your body a little bit. 

Some of these foods include: 

• Berries
• Citrus fruits
• Dark leafy greens
• Garlic
• Egg whites
• Dairy products

These foods have nutrients that are crucial for collagen production. Remember, you can’t make collagen without vitamin C, zinc, copper, and manganese.

So, in addition to adding more collagen to your diet, these foods can be helpful! On top of that, I'd argue they're a lot more appetizing than the previous list.

Preventing Collagen Loss

It’s impossible to completely eliminate collagen loss. You also can't entirely prevent the effects of collagen breakdown. 

However, it's possible to slow it down and minimize some of the effects. 

Here are some tips for preventing collagen loss: 

Check Your Diet

The food you eat can be a way to prevent collagen loss. 

As I already mentioned, there are nutrients that support your own collagen production. 

1. You could eat foods high in collagen.

2. You could use collagen supplements.

3. You could eat more nutritious foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

If your diet isn’t on point, you won’t be doing yourself any favors. Try eating a variety of fruits, veggies, meats, and dairy. The more you mix things up, the more likely you’re getting a wider range of the nutrients you need.

Adjust Lifestyle Factors

Your lifestyle also affects how quickly collagen breaks down. 

Avoiding smoking and alcohol can help preserve your collagen levels for longer. This is because both of these can negatively affect collagen production (10, 11).

Take Care of Your Skin

Caring for your skin can also help preserve your natural collagen levels.

Making sure to use sunscreen if you’re out in the hot sun for a long time can be a good practice. Sunburns definitely don’t help you produce collagen!

Another thing most people don’t think about regarding their skin: hydration.

Too many people think skin hydration is all about the moisturizer they use. Focus on drinking 100-120 oz water per day, and watch your skin start to look healthier!

Collagen Supplement FAQs

Should You Take Collagen Every Day?

I am not going to put a blanket statement out by saying you should do anything. Collagen definitely can be a good thing to take every day though!

I take a collagen supplement every day, and I’ve noticed a lot of these benefits. My hair and nails grow quickly, my skin looks healthy, and best of all, my joints feel great.

The real question should be, can you take collagen every day? You definitely can!

Does Collagen Help with Weight Loss?

While increasing your protein intake is great for weight loss, not all proteins are the same. Collagen does not directly help with weight loss in the same way.

Different proteins just have different benefits. 

Collagen helps to support your skin, joints, ligaments, and organs. Does that mean it’s going to hurt your weight loss efforts?

No, not at all. If you’re trying to lose weight, taking collagen protein won’t hurt you one bit.

I just wouldn’t take it for the purpose of helping with weight loss because that’s not what it’s for. 

Finding The Right Collagen Supplement for You

Overall, collagen is an important protein that makes up so much of your body. It helps support so many bodily functions too!

Your body produces it, but taking a collagen supplement can help you maintain more as you age. Plus, it never hurts to give your body the materials it needs to make more.

Not to mention, some collagen supplements taste pretty amazing in coffee! 

The key is finding the right collagen supplement for you. 

If you want my recommendation, check out 1st Phorm’s Collagen with Dermaval. It contains quality sources of all 5 types of collagen I mentioned earlier (I, II, III, V, and X).

…But that’s not even my favorite part!

What really separates this collagen from every other one on the market is the Dermaval. Dermaval is a superfood blend packed with vitamins, antioxidants, and phytonutrients.

Dermaval doesn't only protect against collagen breakdown, but also the breakdown of another protein called elastin.

Elastin is responsible for the elasticity of your skin, ligaments, blood vessels, and more. Reducing the breakdown of elastin can do wonders for maintaining healthier skin.

All in all, 1st Phorm makes the best collagen I’ve ever come across, and that’s why I continue to use it daily. If you'd like to give it a try, you can check out 1st Phorm Collagen with Dermaval here!

It also comes in a naturally sweetened version called Collagen Natural with Dermaval.

If you have any more questions about collagen, or need help in any way, let us know! We have a full team of NASM Certified Personal Trainers and Nutrition Coaches right here in St. Louis, Missouri. Send us an email at CustomerService@1stPhorm.com or give us a call at 1-800-409-9732 any day from 6 AM to 10 PM Central.

Collagen with Dermaval

References:

(1) Oikarinen A. Aging of the skin connective tissue: how to measure the biochemical and mechanical properties of aging dermis. Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed. 1994 Apr;10(2):47-52. PMID: 8043384.

(2) Reilly DM, Lozano J. Skin collagen through the lifestages: importance for skin health and beauty. Plastic and Aesthetic Research. 2021; 8: 2. http://dx.doi.org/10.20517/2347-9264.2020.153

(3) Asserin J, Lati E, Shioya T, Prawitt J. The effect of oral collagen peptide supplementation on skin moisture and the dermal collagen network: evidence from an ex vivo model and randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2015 Dec;14(4):291-301. doi: 10.1111/jocd.12174. Epub 2015 Sep 12. PMID: 26362110.

(4) García-Coronado JM, Martínez-Olvera L, Elizondo-Omaña RE, Acosta-Olivo CA, Vilchez-Cavazos F, Simental-Mendía LE, Simental-Mendía M. Effect of collagen supplementation on osteoarthritis symptoms: a meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials. Int Orthop. 2019 Mar;43(3):531-538. doi: 10.1007/s00264-018-4211-5. Epub 2018 Oct 27. PMID: 30368550.

(5) Martínez-Puig D, Costa-Larrión E, Rubio-Rodríguez N, Gálvez-Martín P. Collagen Supplementation for Joint Health: The Link between Composition and Scientific Knowledge. Nutrients. 2023 Mar 8;15(6):1332. doi: 10.3390/nu15061332. PMID: 36986062; PMCID: PMC10058045.

(6) König D, Oesser S, Scharla S, Zdzieblik D, Gollhofer A. Specific Collagen Peptides Improve Bone Mineral Density and Bone Markers in Postmenopausal Women-A Randomized Controlled Study. Nutrients. 2018 Jan 16;10(1):97. doi: 10.3390/nu10010097. PMID: 29337906; PMCID: PMC5793325.

(7) Gillies AR, Lieber RL. Structure and function of the skeletal muscle extracellular matrix. Muscle Nerve. 2011 Sep;44(3):318-31. doi: 10.1002/mus.22094. PMID: 21949456; PMCID: PMC3177172.

(8) Holwerda AM, van Loon LJC. The impact of collagen protein ingestion on musculoskeletal connective tissue remodeling: a narrative review. Nutr Rev. 2022 May 9;80(6):1497-1514. doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuab083. PMID: 34605901; PMCID: PMC9086765.

(9) Hexsel D, Zague V, Schunck M, Siega C, Camozzato FO, Oesser S. Oral supplementation with specific bioactive collagen peptides improves nail growth and reduces symptoms of brittle nails. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2017 Dec;16(4):520-526. doi: 10.1111/jocd.12393. Epub 2017 Aug 8. PMID: 28786550.

(10) Knuutinen A, Kokkonen N, Risteli J, Vähäkangas K, Kallioinen M, Salo T, Sorsa T, Oikarinen A. Smoking affects collagen synthesis and extracellular matrix turnover in human skin. Br J Dermatol. 2002 Apr;146(4):588-94. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2133.2002.04694.x. PMID: 11966688.

(11) Seabra O, Pereira VG, Espindula AP, Cardoso FAG, Volpon JB, Pereira SAL, Rosa RC. Even without changing the bone mineral density, alcohol consumption decreases the percentage of collagen, the thickness of bone trabeculae, and increases bone fragility. An Acad Bras Cienc. 2022 Oct 3;94(suppl 3):e20210661. doi: 10.1590/0001-3765202220210661. PMID: 36197360.

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