What Is Collagen?
Collagen consists of proteins present mostly in connective tissues and skin. Connective tissues provide mechanical strength (ability to withstand force), metabolic support, and strengthens immunity. In short, when we improve collagen production, our whole body benefits.
There are four types of the most common collagen. Type 1 collagen, “found in bone, ligament, skin, and tendon”, dominates our fascination with collagen’s health and cosmetic benefits.
Can You Measure Collagen Levels Throughout the Body?
No, you can’t. However, we do know the effects of diminishing collagen production in the body, and those can be measured. Effects range from joint stiffness and pain, to decreased skin elasticity and roughness.*
How Can I Improve the Body’s Collagen Production?
The body produces collagen naturally. Diets rich in Vitamin C and amino acids and regular exercise all help the body produce collagen. However, collagen production slows down as we age.
Do Supplements Work?
FDA does not regulate supplements, and that includes collagen.
Measuring the effectiveness of supplements can prove problematic, since there are different brands and types of collagen supplements. In addition, researchers will have to narrow down the effectiveness of collagen supplements on skin, bone, muscle building, ligaments, and other types of purported benefits. In short, what we consider signs of an aging body.
Healthline provides a thorough investigation of the various studies. They explain the imitations and promise of existing studies. The conclusion: we need more studies to be fully definitive of the results.
Others however, remain critical of collagen supplements. In a WebMD interview with Dermatologist Dr. Ploch MD, the doctor states that in terms of using collagen supplements for the skin:
…stomach acids break down collagen proteins you eat before they reach the skin intact, so she’s not convinced it helps at all.Collagen: ‘Fountain of Youth’ or Edible Hoax? | WebMD
Additionally, Dr. Ploch states that animal-based collagen comprise mostly of ground up cow, chicken, pig, and fish parts (bones, tissues, skin, scales etc.). Given the coronavirus pandemic and the rethinking of our relationship with animals, some might find this point worrisome.
There are plant-based alternatives to collagen supplements, for vegans who want to try this trend.
Investing in your wellness requires understanding how to best allocate your money, doing your due diligence on the efficacy of the products and services you take on, and ethical standard involved. How much is the promise of collagen supplements worth to you, given what you know?
Our body needs collagen. We know how it affects our body. The good news, we have so many ways to boost our body’s ability to produce it.
* A biopsy followed by microscopic procedures allow us to measure levels of collagen in skin.