Collagen is hot right now—in fact, it has been for a while. That's because more and more people are becoming aware of how important this protein is for overall health as well as for some specific reasons. That's why we want to introduce you to some ways to incorporate collagen into your daily routine so you can take advantage of its many advantages.
Benefits of collagen
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body and is found in your blood, skin, bones, ligaments, muscles, and cartilage. More specifically, collagen:
- Supports and promotes elasticity of the skin.
- Protects your skin and internal organs.
- Offers structure to your tendons and joints.
- Is the "glue" that holds your muscles and bones together.
This important list lets you know how important collagen is, but are you getting enough of it? Although the body produces collagen, that process slows down as we get older. If you smoke, get lots of sun exposure, or follow an unhealthy diet, then your collagen levels go down even more. Other factors that can cause collagen levels to decline are high sugar consumption, the presence of some autoimmune disorders, and genetics.
Why you should take collagen
Before you incorporate collagen into your daily routine, you may want to better appreciate all it can do for you. For example:
Would you like to improve your aging skin? Collagen may be considered as the skin supplement, because it works to improve elasticity, promote vibrancy, and rights wrinkles and fine lines. Numerous studies have found that taking a collagen supplement can improve skin elasticity and reduce wrinkles within a few weeks. For example, women ages 35 to 55 who took a collagen supplement daily noted an improvement in skin elasticity within four weeks.
Are you bothered by cellulite? In fact, 80 to 90 percent of post-pubertal women have dimpled, lumpy skin on their thighs, buttocks, or other noticeable areas. Can collagen help us get rid of this unsightly skin? Some research says yes, as demonstrated by a 2015 study in which 105 women (ages 24-50) who took collagen for six months showed a marked improvement in their skin.
Do you want stronger nails and hair? One of the first things individuals notice when they start supplementing with collagen, is increase growth in their nails and hair and overall improved strength in their nails.
Do you have joint pain? Among the challenges that can affect us as we get older are joint pain and symptoms of arthritis. Taking collagen can ease joint discomfort and the symptoms of osteoarthritis, at least in the short term, according to research. Other studies have shown how collagen supplements can improve knee osteoarthritis.
Would you like to burn fat and build muscle? Collagen is a major part of muscle, so boosting intake should help build muscle mass. Collagen also contains the amino acid called glycine, which helps produce creatine which in turn supplies your muscles with the fuel it needs to live your life to the fullest.
Although evidence that collagen is beneficial for both muscle and fat is scarce thus far, the authors of a 2015 study noted that older men with sarcopenia (a condition marked by loss of muscle mass) showed an increase in muscle strength and fat loss when they took the supplement. The men also participated in resistance training while on the 12-week supplement program.
Do you experience digestive problems? Some evidence suggests that increasing your intake of collagen can better protect the lining of your gastrointestinal tract. This can significantly reduce your risk of developing inflammation and conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease while also enjoying better gut health.
How to use collagen every day
You can easily add powdered collagen to a wide variety of foods and beverages, hot or cold. For example, add a tablespoon or two to:
- Your favorite smoothie and start your morning with a protein boost or other tasty collagen beverage.
- Gravy recipes—start with a teaspoon or two and increase until you get the desired consistency.
- Soups, both homemade and store-bought creamy soups work best.
- Hot beverages, such as coffee and hot cocoa. Start with a teaspoon and see how you like it.
- Oatmeal or other hot cereals—stir in while cooking or immediately after preparation is complete.
- Yogurt—stir into your favorite flavors.
- Puddings—both homemade and store-bought puddings are a great vehicle for collagen. Add slowly and stir well until you reach a desired consistency.
- Dips—collagen powder works well in mayo, sour cream, yogurt, and other types of dips.
- Salad dressings—creamy salad dressings are a great way to enjoy some collagen in your diet.
[Editor's Note: Our partners, NeoCell have a variety of collagen supplements including powders and gummies. The powder is flavorless and is not affected by heat so it can go in those soups and gravies.]
Koutroubakis IE et al. Serum laminin and collagen IV in inflammatory bowel disease. Journal of Clinical Pathology 2003 Nov; 56(11): 817-20
Liu X et al. Dietary supplements for treating osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. British Journal of Sports Medicine 2018 Feb; 52(3): 167-75
Luebberding S et al. Cellulite: an evidence-based review. American Journal of Clinical Dermatology 2015 Aug; 16(4): 243-56
Lugo JP et al. Efficacy and tolerability of an undenaturated type II collagen supplement in modulating knee osteoarthritis symptoms: a multicenter randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Nutrition Journal 2016 Jan 29; 15:14
Proksch E et al. Oral supplementation of specific collagen peptides has beneficial effects on human skin physiology: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Skin Pharmacology and Physiology 2014; 27:47-55
Schunck M et al. Dietary supplementation with specific collagen peptides has a body mass index-dependent beneficial effect on cellulite morphology. Journal of Medicinal Food 2015 Dec 1; 18(12): 1340-48
Zdzieblik D et al. Collagen peptide supplementation in combination with resistance training improves body composition and increases muscle strength in elderly sarcopenic men: a randomized controlled trial. British Journal of Nutrition 2015 Oct 28; 114(8): 1237-45