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March 02, 2018

Collagen: What it does and Why it’s Important

Fitness First USA

What is Collagen?

Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies, making up 30% of our whole body protein content! It’s found in skin, muscles, tendons, bones, blood vessels, and the digestive system. It’s what helps give our skin strength and elasticity, along with replacing dead skin cells. Without it, our skin starts to sag and wrinkle. Collagen is also considered the “glue” (quite literally, as the meaning of collagen comes from the Greek word, kolla, which means glue) that holds everything together, like our joints and tendons.

What are the different types?

There are at least 28 different types of collagen, all playing different roles in your body. Some of them are better for your skin and bones (Types 1 and 3), while others are beneficial for the tendons and joints (Type 2). The most popular types are 1, 2 and 3—80% - 90% of collagen consists of these types. All collagen has an abundance of three specific amino acids: glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline.

Where does it come from?

Collagen is most commonly sourced from fish, chicken, or beef.

Why is it important?

As we age, our body’s collagen production declines. As it does, we start to show signs of aging, like wrinkly, saggy skin and joint pain. It’s not just aging that can cause a decline in collagen levels-- it’s lifestyle choices as well. Diets high in sugar, high amounts of sun exposure, and even smoking contribute to depletion in collagen! It is essential to maintain adequate levels of collagen to maintain strong bones, joints and skin.

Which form should I take?

There are two forms of collagen supplementation. One is Hydrolyzed collagen, and the other is Gelatin collagen. The difference? Hydrolyzed collagen typically comes in a powder, and has higher bioavailability than gelatin (90% absorption vs. 85.97%). It can be added to hot, warm, or cold water. Unlike hydrolyzed collagen, gelatin can be dissolved only in hot water. An example of a gelatin collagen is bone broth. If hot, it will be completely dissolved, but you will notice that once the liquid cools, it will form into, well, a jello like substance.

What does Collagen do?

There are so many benefits to supplementing with Collagen! Here are a few:

  1. Improves Health of Skin, Hair, and Nails

    For skin and beauty, supplementing with collagen can help fortify the skin’s structure, reducing wrinkles, creases, and sagging skin. When skin loses its elasticity as a result of decreased collagen, there’s another side effect: more visible cellulite. Because your skin is now thinner, cellulite becomes more evident. Improving your skin’s elasticity through collagen helps reduce that dimpling on your skin, all while keeping your skin moisturized and smooth. Collagen is also the building block of your fingernails, hair and teeth. Without it, your nails would be very brittle, your teeth weak, and you could actually show signs of hair loss. With proper supplementation, you can keep your nails and teeth strong, and possibly reverse those signs of hair loss!

  2. Reduces Joint Pain and degeneration.

    When we lose collagen, our tendons and ligaments start moving with less ease, causing stiffness and swollen joints. Collagen actually covers and holds our bones together, increasing mobility. It’s also an effective treatment for treating osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Studies show that those who took collagen supplementation had less pain and had a vast improvement in quality of life!

  3. Heals the Gut

    Collagen works in the gut to heal and seal intestinal lining and restore the gut’s mucosal layer.

  4. Boosts metabolism

    Collagen is rich in the amino acid glycine, which helps convert glucose into energy. This in turn feeds muscle cells. By increasing your lean muscle mass, your metabolism increases!

  5. Keeps you Calm

    Glycine also promotes calmness and decreases anxiety, so supplementing with collagen can help relax your mind.