The beauty industry has expounded the benefits of taking collagen supplements for years, claiming products containing it can help us look younger and healthier. However, when you consume collagen there are actually a lot of other health benefits that are beyond skin-deep. If you’re concerned with better hair, skin and nails, you may already use products containing collagen.
But what if your concern is improving and maintaining the health of connective tissue, building muscle and healing injuries? Yep, that’s exactly what collagen is for too.
Collagen in the Body
Collagen is the main structural protein in connective tissue and the most abundant protein in our body. Made up of combinations of amino acids, it is in tissues like skin, ligaments and tendons.
But although collagen is abundant within these specific parts of the body, modern anatomical studies have shown that we’re actually entirely covered and made up of connective tissue. Thus the benefits become ever more wide-spread.
The connective tissue we’re talking about is called fascia. This is a web-like substance that covers the whole body and wraps around and within all the internal organs.
Fascia can vary in consistency from thin to thick, it weaves in and through muscles. Some experts would say that muscle is fascia, and that the whole body is really one cohesive, connected single piece of fascia.
The latest buzzword in the health industry, fascia can become knotted and stiff. The best ways to keep it and all the other tissues in the body healthy are to move regularly, get some sort of bodywork like massage or Rolfing, drink enough water, and consume a diet with enough protein and collagen.
As well as muscles and tendons, collagen is also found in bones, blood vessels and the digestive system. In the simplest terms, it’s the ‘glue’ that holds us together.
The Benefits of Collagen
The quality of our body's collagen is at its best when we’re very young (think of soft, supple baby skin), but generally starts declining at age 25. This is why so many ‘anti-ageing’ products contain collagen. It helps improve skin elasticity, which may improve the appearance of wrinkles. Other effects of collagen include an improvement in the strength and appearance of hair and nails.
Collagen can help skin, nails and hair appear more youthful
(Photo: Marco Verch, Flickr (CC by 2.0)
Collagen Benefits for Hair Growth
The better quality collagen, the more protected and healthier the hair is. The science behind it is that collagen is the important building block of hair and surrounds each strand. Studies have shown that a lack of collagen may lead to hair loss, one of the common signs of ageing.
Research scientists in Japan found that taking collagen away from hair follicles caused hair loss. Subsequently, they discovered that supplementing with collagen provides amino acids to produce keratin protein, which makes up hair and promotes healthy hair growth and re-growth.
Collagen may be beneficial for hair health and growth (Photo: Pexels)
Collagen Benefits for the Skin
Collagen can benefit ageing skin in a similar way. Dry skin is linked to ageing, and collagen can help replenish moisture and the suppleness of the skin. As skin is the body’s biggest organ, protecting this part of us has a knock-on effect to all other parts and systems of the body, thus encouraging greater wellbeing all-round.
Does Collagen Help Build Muscle?
The ligaments and tendons around muscles and joints are primarily made of collagen. Therefore, if you’re looking to achieve increased muscle growth, improve the strength and performance of your body's connective tissues, improve joint health, or maintain healthy movement practice, consuming enough collagen is important for rebuilding and enhancing tissue. As a bonus, movement stimulates the production and laying down of healthy new collagen proteins - so keep on moving!
Collagen and Muscle Repair
If your issue is linked to injury – whether in the form of muscle aches or joint pain, collagen may help with the healing process.
The body produces collagen and as we know, natural collagen production declines around the age of 25. This is why it often takes longer to heal injuries as you get older.
However, if we want to improve it, or if we’ve over-exerted ourselves (thus causing injury), a dietary supplement containing collagen can help speed up healing time and reduce the risk of re-injury.
Inflammation and Healing: Collagen and Amino Acids
Collagen contains the non essential amino acids proline and glycine, which are natural anti-inflammatories and remarkable immune system enhancers. As the immune system is the first to respond when it comes to healing, from a cold to a damaged knee, it’s important to maintain it. These amino acids can help reduce any damaging inflammation around an injury so it can start healing.
The ageing process is also strongly linked to inflammation. Therefore the anti-inflammatory components of collagen are once again supportive in this life-long process.
Foods that Contain Collagen
Collagen is found in bone broths and collagen and gelatine supplements, as the only true form of collagen comes directly from those bones, tendons and ligaments of other mammals.
Chicken bone broth contains collagen (Photo: T.Tseng, Flickr, CC by 2.0)
Since we can’t eat bones in their whole form, and simmering bone broth isn’t something we’re all able to do every day, taking a collagen supplement made up of these bones, tendons and ligaments can be a quick and effective way of maintaining a strong, healthy body. It may also protect it from injury and ageing, and aid healing when damage occurs.
Our Best Collagen Supplements
Scientists have identified 28 different types of collagen, so it's important to know which one to take. When looking for a collagen-based product for improving any part of the body, look for type 1. This is the type we need for healthy skin and hair, and strong connective tissue.
The type 1 collagen found in the Love Life Supplements Primal Collagen + Vitamin C is the very thing needed for healthy connective tissue. It is identical to the collagen found in the skin and bones in the human body and is bio-available. This means the body can absorb and make use of the nutrients straightaway. Furthermore, the addition of vitamin C means this hydrolyzed collagen can be utilised even more effectively.
If you’re not into simmering bones and waiting hours for your collagen fix, the good news is that we offer two high-quality supplemental collagen powders. One is unflavoured and can be scooped straight into water or a smoothie and consumed right away. For those with a sweet tooth, we also offer a delicious Primal Collagen and Vitamin C in Chocolate-Orange Flavour.
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