If you’ve been scouring the internet for a new supplement, you’ve probably run across collagen peptide powder—and for good reason! Collagen peptides are an insanely healthy supplement choice for anyone, no matter if you’re trying to win a triathlon, or just lose a few pounds.
In the world of beauty and makeup, collagen has long been a well-known player. With its proven benefits to hair, skin, and nails, beauty companies have been using it in products for years and years.
However, the list of benefits collagen powder can provide extend beyond your hair skin and nails. Your bones, gut, and your joints all benefit from collagen supplementation.
What is Collagen?
But, before we get into it, let me explain a little bit about collagen—what it is and where it comes from.
First and foremost, collagen is a protein. And, it’s an important structural protein your connective tissue. Most importantly, maybe, it’s the most plentiful protein in your body—30% of your body’s protein is collagen. Our skin is made up of 70% collagen. (Hence the emphasis in the beauty industry.)
Proteins are made up of amino acids. Some of those amino acids we must get from the food we eat These are called essential amino acids. There are 9 essential amino acids. The other 11 amino acids are non-essential, which means your body can make them from other amino acids.
What’s interesting about collagen is that it’s missing one essential amino acid. So, if you’re thinking about replacing your regular whey protein drink or replacing some of the meat meals you eat with collagen, don’t.
Because all the amino acids in collagen are essential, you can only get collagen from food or from supplementation. The only food source is through animals, because collagen comes from the connective tissues of animals.
What’s pretty interesting about getting collagen is different animals have varying types of collagen. For example, fish and beef contain types II and III, which are available in human bones, tendons, and skin. Type II comes from chicken and is found in our cartilage.
Why We Need Collagen
After the age of 20, (YES, 20), our collagen levels start to decline. This happens naturally the rate of something like 1% each year. This decline in collagen is we get wrinkles, why our joints start to hurt, why our bones are weaker.
Aside from this natural decline, most Americans just don’t eat enough collagen. Sure, we eat meat, but we don’t consume the entire animal, including the bones, skin, and cartilage.
But, as many of you know, that takes time and doesn’t exactly mix well into your strawberry protein shake.
Benefits of Collagen
With all this said, its pretty clear collagen is an essential part of keeping your body healthy and feeling youthful. Here are some examples:
Your joints (elbows, knees, shoulders) are places where bones and muscles connect to each other. The connective tissue that makes all that happen is made from ligaments and tendons. Guess what makes up ligaments and tendons? You guessed it—collagen.
Using it may help relieve some consistent joint pain you’ve had since that old high school football injury.
Most of our skin is made up of collagen, so it’s no wonder science has found some pretty convincing evidence that collagen supplementation can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
The connective tissue in your intestines is also made of collagen. Supplementing with it may increase the protective barrier that keeps anything in your guts passing into your bloodstream.
Collagen can also help keep your bones strong. Because our bones contain lots of collagen, the natural decline in the protein can make our bones weaker. Supplementing can help protect your bones against osteoporosis and keep them strong.
Like pretty much every other thing in your body, your muscles contain collagen. And, like most other systems in your body, your muscle mass can start to decline as you age. Some studies have found that, along with resistance training, supplementing with collagen can help improve muscle mass and strength.
An Important Note about Vitamin C
Vitamin C is an essential part of collagen production. Given that Americans don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables, it’s no wonder we also struggle with getting enough collagen. So, if you aren’t following the good advice of getting at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, you should.