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Collagen 101:

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You may have noticed recently collagen has been booming in the nutrition industry. With such a wide range of benefits that have been documented numerous times, the supplement is taking off. Usually when people think of collagen they think of it as an additive to lotions and other supplements. While it can be used as an additive, collagen can also be taken by itself resulting in an increase of several benefits. So, what exactly is collagen?

In our bodies collagen is found in our muscles, bones, skin, blood-vessels, the digestive system, and tendons. As we age, our bodies natural collagen production rate begins to slow down. Therefore, we start to get wrinkles, joint pain, and sagging skin. While age is just one of the degenerative processes, other factors like smoking, sun exposure, and certain diets can also reduce the collagen levels in our bodies more rapidly.  As mentioned before, collagen has a wide range of benefits. These include but are not limited to:

  • Reduces joint pain
  • Slows down the degenerative process
  • Improves skin, our largest organ
  • Strengthens hair, nails, and teeth
  • Supports gut health
  • Builds muscle and repairs tissue
  • Increases metabolism, muscle mass, and energy levels
  • Protects cardiovascular health
  • Reduces cellulite and stretch marks

Next, we need to recognize that there are multiple types of collagen with different benefits within each:

  • Type 1: Type 1 collagen is the most abundant in our bodies and helps tendons, ligaments, organs, skin, bones, and can also be found in your gut.
  • Type 2: Type 2 collagen mainly helps build the cartilage in our connective tissue.
  • Type 3: Type 3 collagen is mostly found in reticular connective tissues which can be found in the kidney, the spleen, lymph nodes, bone marrow, blood vessels, and tissue in the heart.
  • Type 4: Type 4 collagen forms basal lamina, which is found in endothelial cells that form tissue surrounding our organs, muscles, and fat. Basal lamina can also be found in our digestive organs, respiratory surfaces, as well as the space between the top layer of skin and tissue, and the deepest layer.
  • Type 5: Type 5 collagen helps build the surface of our cells, hair strands, and tissue found in women’s placentas.
  • Type 10: Type 10 collagen helps form articular cartilage and new bone formation.

There are various sources of collagen: Bovine (beef or cow) collagen, Chicken collagen, Fish (marine) collagen, and Egg shell membrane collagen. Each protein source provides different benefits from their collagens. Bovine collagen is made up of mostly Type 1 and Type 3 collagens. Chicken collagen is typically made up of Type 2 collagen. Fish collagen is normally Type 1 collagen. Lastly, Egg shell membrane collagen is mostly Type 1 collagen, but can also include Type 3, 4, and 10. Depending on your needs, certain collagens may alleviate or help specific symptoms you’re experiencing due to a decrease in collagen. Bovine and Fish collagens both seem to take the lead in the collagen market.

Introducing collagen to your diet is relatively easy. You can simply add it to a soup, coffee, or smoothie. With the numerous benefits it’s easy to see why this supplement has taken off. People are also becoming more aware of their overall health and are on a constant search to simply feel better. When you take into consideration the rapid decline in your body’s collagen production, adding collagen to your diet seems like an easy solution with long-term benefits and hardly any risks.

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