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Collagen supplements are getting a lot of buzz right now, but just what are they, and what can they potentially help with?
Collagen is your body’s most abundant protein, and its main function is giving your connective tissues structure and support, this includes your bones, muscles, joints, and skin.
Most collagen supplements contain a hydrolyzed form of collagen, meaning that it is broken down into its smaller protein components to make it easier for your body to absorb and integrate.
Keep reading to see if collagen ticks some of the boxes on things that you may need a little help with, and figure out just what science thinks about collagen supplements.
Collagen plays a big role in your skin’s elasticity, and having enough of it can help your skin stay fresh, supple, and bouncy.
Normally, the amounts of collagen in your skin decrease slowly over time after 20-ish, so replacing that collagen with something as the years go by is necessary for keeping your skin youthful.
According to some preliminary studies, taking collagen supplements may actually help with skin elasticity and the appearance of skin if taken regularly.
Along with the potential to increase the elasticity of skin, is a possible decrease in wrinkle depth with more collagen in the skin.
This may be due to collagen’s ability to maintain higher levels of hydration in the skin, since a hydrated face is one that can plump out those fine levels better.
Some studies show promise with skin hydration and reduced wrinkle depth when participants took collagen supplements, but more research is needed to know if collagen can really make a difference with wrinkles.
Cartilage is the supportive and cushioning pad of connective tissue that is between your joints, and a big component of cartilage is collagen.
Studies suggest that taking collagen supplements may help preserve overall joint health for longer, and may help those with chronic joint issues like arthritis feel more comfortable.
You would think that keeping your cartilage healthier may help prevent and reduce pain in your joints, and that is just what some studies in people with joint pain taking collagen are suggesting.
While more studies need to be done to confirm the reduced joint pain benefits, taking a collagen supplement regularly for a few months may help you identify if a collagen supplement is making a difference in your overall joint pain levels.
Your bones are another part of your connective tissue that relies on adequate levels of collagen.
One study that had participants with bone loss take either a calcium supplement daily, or a calcium and collagen supplement found that the group with the additional collagen had better bone health after the trial than just taking calcium alone.
While more information is needed to know conclusively how collagen helps with bone loss prevention, the initial findings are promising.
Wound healing is an important function of your skin, and since collagen is a big component of your skin, having plenty around may play a part in how fast your wounds are healing.
Preliminary studies show positive results in terms of faster wound healing in those taking a collagen supplement.
Your muscles are also a big structural component of your body that is partially built out of collagen.
And some studies suggest that having participants take a collagen supplement and working out leads to more muscle gains than those that worked out while taking a placebo.
Collagen supplements are generally well tolerated when taken as directed, and this makes sense because collagen is a natural component of the body as well as being in many foods that most people eat regularly such as meats and bone broths.
In some cases, people may report a generalized stomach upset or GI problems when taking collagen supplements, so always follow the package recommendation on how much to take, and stop taking a supplement if it is causing your gastrointestinal distress.
Also, if you have an allergy to certain fish or meat products, you may want to avoid collagen supplements to avoid an allergic reaction as they are generally produced using animal products.
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