Primarily found in the skin, muscles, and connective tissues of animals, collagen is a strong, elastic, structural protein made from the amino acids proline, glycine, arginine, and hydroxyproline. Made by specialized cells called fibroblasts, collagen makes up 1/3rd of all the protein found in the human body. Collagen production decreases with age and can also be influenced by factors such as stress, diet, and activity level.
In this article you will learn:
- What collagen is and why you need it
- How collagen could be the missing link in your modern diet
- How to boost your dietary intake of collagen
- The amazing benefits of daily collagen supplementation
What Collagen Is and Why You Need It
Collagen is the most common type of protein in the animal kingdom, and in humans, it accounts for nearly 35% of all the protein found in the body.
Collagen is a structural molecule and can be found throughout the body in rigid structures like bone, soft structures cartilage, or elastic tissues like tendons and ligaments.
Therefore, a deficiency in dietary sources of collagen can lead to problems throughout the body, ranging from superficial issues like brittle hair and nails, increased wrinkles on the skin, or, in rare cases, such as a collagen production disease, death can even occur.
The infamous sailor’s disease scurvy is actually a disease of collagen production because of the fact that vitamin C is used by the body when making new collagen.
Without adequate vitamin C, the sailor’s collagen production dropped off, causing them to lose their teeth, and eventually bleed to death as blood vessels were unable to maintain their structural integrity without collagen.
Collagen: The Missing Link In Your Modern Diet
Most of us are aware of the importance of protein, but not all proteins are created equal.
While all proteins are made up of chains of smaller molecules called amino acids, the specific amino acids sequences differ from one protein to another.
When you digest a protein, what you are actually absorbing are the millions of tiny amino acids that made up that protein.
Your body then takes those amino acids and uses them to make new protein chains.
If your diet is lacking the specific amino acids needed to make a protein, however, your body can’t always compensate for this lack, this is why some proteins are considered “essential.”
In other words, if you can eat enough protein “generally” while still being deficient in certain proteins “specifically.”
One such protein that provides hard to find, but very essential amino acids, is collagen.
Collagen was once consumed in great abundance by our ancestors who frequently ate “nose to tail.”
By consuming the tough “odd bits” of animals such as the skin and joints in the forms of soups and stews, our ancestors made the most of available resources and gave their body the amino acids required to make its own collagen protein.
With the advent of modern food production and the “refinement” of dietary habits, however dietary collagen has been all but eliminated.
This is very problematic as collagen is one protein your body cannot live without!
How to Get More Collagen in Your Diet
Thankfully, it’s easy to add collagen back into your diet.
Making homemade bone broth by slow simmering beef bones, leftover chicken carcasses, or even fish heads can provide dietary collagen in addition to being an interesting conversation starter when entertaining guests.
Eating the rubbery ends of chicken bones and the gristle on your steak can also help add collagen to your diet.
If sweating over a boiling vat of bone broth or gnawing on bones doesn’t sound good to you, there are high-quality collagen supplements that can be used to conveniently add collagen to your diet.
Whether it is powdered collagen peptides or gelatin (read this article to learn the difference between the two), with collagen supplements you can add this essential protein to just about anything, from coffee and tea, to smoothies and shakes, and even baked goods such as brownies, without compromising their flavor. In fact, adding collagen protein powder to your favorite foods can actually enhance their deliciousness by improving texture and mouthfeel!
The Amazing Benefits of Daily Collagen Supplementation
In addition to simply keeping you healthy and alive, adding foods rich in collagen protein can help you to truly thrive! A 2014 study found substantial skin benefits to collagen supplementation.
The test group was then given a drink containing hydrolyzed collagen and told to drink it each day before breakfast for 12 straight weeks. The skin of their inner forearm was then checked for hydration, elasticity, and overall appearance. Those who participated in the study and received the collagen supplement were shown to have fewer wrinkles and fuller, younger-looking skin as a result of the treatment.
Beyond looking better, collagen can help improve athletic performance by reducing joint pain and stiffness.
Penn State University researchers gave a group of athletes either a liquid collagen supplement or a placebo and after a 24-week period, the group that received the collagen supplementation experienced less activity-related joint pain and inflammation.
Go Beyond With Natural Force
Here at Natural Force, we’re big collagen fans, and use our own collagen products on a daily basis.
Since both our grass-fed beef Collagen Peptides and wild-caught Marine Collagen are unflavored and mix easily, we like adding a scoop of collagen protein anytime we blend up an Organic Whey Protein shake or make a coffee with our pure coconut MCT Oil.
In addition to the collagen benefits mentioned above, we find that the addition of collagen protein to our regular routine helps us feel satisfied longer and that it promotes lean body mass and fat reduction by helping to cut down on snacking between meals.
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