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The Benefits of Collagen

You may be hearing a lot these days about something called collagen and its purported benefits. So, let’s take a look at what collagen is and what it does.

Collagen is a protein found in the body that is a component of our bones, skin, ligaments and tendons, eyes, blood vessels, organs and muscles. To say it holds us all together would not be an exaggeration. Unfortunately, we produce less and less collagen over time. This reduction in collagen can weaken bones and muscles and cause skin to sag and wrinkle. 

Your diet can slow (or hasten) the loss of collagen—so knowing what collagen-boosting foods to eat is important. 

Make sure you consume plenty of these:

Foods containing vitamin C: Citrus, bell peppers and strawberries are some good sources.

The amino acid proline: Found in eggs whites, dairy foods, asparagus, cabbage and wheat germ.

Glycine, another amino acid: Many protein-rich foods supply this; also add high-quality protein from meat, legumes, tofu, poultry, seafood and bone broth.

Copper: This mineral is found in cashews, lentils, organ meats and cocoa powder (yay!).

You may stunt your production of collagen if you:

Damage your skin from too much sun exposure

Smoke

Eat too much sugar and refined carbohydrates

Taking collagen supplements in pill or powder form is showing promise as a way to improve skin’s elasticity, improve muscle mass and lower the risk of osteoporosis (bone loss) and arthritis pain.

What about trying to restore collagen (and, thereby, younger-looking skin) by using skin creams and lotions? The jury is out on how effective they are. Some dermatologists and other experts say that collagen molecules are too big to penetrate skin cells.* Creams containing collagen may do little more than help the skin retain moisture. Some products, however, contain ingredients that can help boost collagen growth. Look for face and eye creams that contain vitamin C or other antioxidants to get the best results. Hyaluronic acid is another ingredient that may help stimulate collagen production. 

If you’re interested in trying collagen, diet should be your first approach. Supplements and powders are the next best thing. As for facial products, see what works for you, but don’t expect the fountain of youth in a jar. 

In the meantime, the best ways to stay healthy and youthful are by eating a healthy diet, exercising, being tobacco free and staying out of the sun. 

Here’s to collagen…the protein that helps keep us put together.

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*Cleveland Clinic. The best way you can get more collagen.