The Health Benefits of Collagen 

By: Joe Martinez, RPh, PDE, CMS, Founder and CCO, HMS

Contributor: Stephanie Wu

Collagen…What is it? Does it provide any health benefits? And how many kinds are out there? Forget the confusion and here’s the scoop!

Let’s begin with a definition. Collagen is a protein made in the body and actually the most abundant protein produced.

You can find collagen in your muscles, skin, blood, bones, cartilage, and ligaments. It’s what keeps your bones and muscles together,  protects your organs and helps your skin to be bouncy and elastic. 

While your body produces collagen throughout your lifetime, production actually slows down with age. This is one of the reasons why collagen is so desirable, especially in cosmetic agents, that promise a decrease in wrinkling. 

But here’s the thing…not only can you apply collagen to the skin, but you can also eat it and drink it too for added benefits.

There are three edible kinds of collagen, two are derived from animals and the third is a plant based option.

 

Powdered Collagen

The powdered form of collagen is what you can easily find at your local grocery store.  Many people associate powder collagen with Jell-O(r) and pudding packets which are usually mixed with boiling water to activate its gelatin-like properties. 

 

Hydrolyzed Collagen

Then there is the collagen that is a hydrolyzed form of gelatin – this is the form that the latest buzz is all about.

Hydrolyzed collagen is comprised of proteins, broken down into individualized peptide (amino acid) chains so that it will not solidify like regular gelatin food products usually will. This is why it can be dissolved into liquids and enjoyed in coffee, smoothies or teas. 

Two tablespoons of hydrolyzed collagen contain 10 grams of macronutrients as compared to a scoop of protein powder which contains 20-24 grams of protein in most protein powder canisters.

Sea Collagen

A plant based alternative to animal-derived collagen is sea collagen, made from, you guessed it, seaweed. 

Irish Moss, sometimes referred to as Sea Moss, is another great source of collagen and micronutrients, providing 92 of the 102 minerals that our body needs. 

It can be used topically in the form of a mask to fight wrinkles and hair growth.

Now the big question: does collagen help treat wrinkles? 

In a study published by the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, the supplement proved beneficial in improving “hallmark signs of aging.”  Another study found in the Journal of Medicinal Food discovered that women who consumed collagen reported an improvement in cellulite. 

Aside from all the cosmetic buzz, various clinical studies have occurred researching collagen’s potential positive impact on joint health. The Gelatin Manufacturers of Europe have found that collagen can counteract joint wear and tear for people who have osteoarthritis. 

In addition, another study reported that consuming 8 to 12 grams of collagen a day improved symptoms of osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. Furthermore, a 24-week study found that athletes had less pain in their joints after taking a collagen supplement. 

Because powdered collagen is considered a dietary supplement, it’s important to keep in mind that what you find on grocery store shelves is not regulated by the Food and Drug Association (FDA). A good rule to follow is to consult your physician or pharmacist if you have any questions about an interest in consuming collagen. 

Also,  if you’re concerned for your skin, here are a number of other ways to keep it looking fresh:

  • Remember to use sunscreen when spending any amount of time in the sun. 
  • Minimize or quit smoking, as smoking can cause wrinkles and aging.  In addition, too much alcohol doesn’t really help either.
  • Eating foods rich in Vitamin C, E, and beta-carotene can help boost collagen formation and reduce oxidative damage to the skin. 
  • Enjoy a Sea Moss gel mask. Add a little bit of aloe vera and you have a homemade wrinkle fighting mask in minutes!

However, if your healthcare professional gives you a green light on collagen use, here are a couple tasty treats from Healthy Meals Supreme where collagen is a star ingredient – and they satisfy the sweet tooth too!  

* Always check with your doctor or healthcare professional before making any changes to your diet or exercise routine.

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