7 Amazing Benefits of Collagen (+ 4 Delicious Ways to Get More)
If I told you that one supplement can help your skin retain its youthful glow, support strong bones and joints, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles… you might understandably be a bit skeptical.
I’m willing to bet once I show you the research behind it, though, you’ll be on board.
Fortunately, there is such a supplement. Collagen supplements can support all of those things and more.* They carry an impressive amount of science to support using them.
Collagen is the Most Abundant Protein in Your Body
Think of collagen as the “glue” that holds your body together, like the walls of a building. This vital protein literally holds the structure of your body together, allowing you to stay strong, flexible, and resilient so you can bend and stretch effortlessly.
You’ll find collagen nearly everywhere throughout the body: In your skin, hair, nails, bones, ligaments, tendons, muscle tissue, and even your arteries. Overall, collagen accounts for as much as 30% of the body’s total protein.
Your body can make collagen from 3 amino acids (glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline), along with a few vitamins including vitamin C. (1)
As we get older, however, that process becomes less efficient. By age 20, collagen production decreases about one percent each year. (2) Over time, those deficiencies may contribute to joint stiffness, fine lines and wrinkles, a loss of your skin's healthy glow, and more.
One of the best ways to support healthy collagen production as you age is with your diet. Sugar has a detrimental effect on aging skin because it makes collagen fibers incapable of easy repair. Eventually, sugar contributes to nasty molecules called advanced glycation end products, which carry the appropriate acronym AGEs. (3)
The Virgin Diet provides the nutrients that support collagen production. When you eliminate the 7 highly reactive foods, you support your body's natural ability to produce healthy collagen.
7 Amazing Benefits of Collagen
Everyone needs collagen to stay healthy, but sometimes you may need an extra boost. Here are some of the many benefits of getting extra collagen:
- Healthy skin. Sagging skin, wrinkles, and age spots are all normal signs of aging. About 75% of the protein in your skin is made up of collagen. Deficiencies often show up most noticeably as wrinkles. (4) Adding collagen daily can promote skin elasticity to help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and other visible signs of aging.
- Healthy nails. Brittle nails can lead to cracking and chipping, which can really mess up your day! Studies show that using collagen daily can support healthy nail growth, protect against brittle nails, and reduce the frequency of broken nails. (5)
- Joint health. Stiff, achy joints are typically dismissed as inevitable signs of aging. Losing collagen causes the breakdown of the cartilage you need to protect your joints. The loss of that cartilage cushion between your joints may lead to chronic pain and inflammation. (6) Supplementing with collagen can provide the vital building blocks your body needs to support strong bones and joints. Increasing your collagen intake can help you maintain mobility, too.
- Bone health. Around 30% of your bone is composed of organic compounds. About 90–95% of those organic compounds are made of collagen. Collagen keeps your bones strong, flexible, and less likely to break. (7) Adding collagen has been shown to support healthy bone mass and protect against fractures. One study found that a collagen peptide supplement increased bone mineral density and bone formation while reducing bone degradation in postmenopausal women. (8)
- Heart health. Collagen helps your arteries maintain their integrity and prevents them from getting brittle. That means arteries stay smooth and supple, keeping atherosclerosis—a disease where plaques of fatty material build up on the inner artery walls—at bay. (9)
- Support for muscle growth and recovery. Up to 10% of your muscle mass is made up of collagen. (10) Supplementing may prevent age-related muscle loss while supporting muscle growth and strength. (11) Taking collagen before exercise promotes healthy muscle growth. That’s why I love adding collagen to my pre-workout coffee. Collagen’s ability to boost muscle growth and improve recovery also means it’s a good idea to increase your intake when you need to heal from an injury or surgery. (12)
- A healthy gut. Collagen contains amino acids that heal and smooth the lining of your digestive tract. That protects the gut lining from becoming too permeable, or what we commonly call leaky gut. When the gut lining is strong, it reduces inflammation and boosts the immune system. (13) Collagen can support a healthy gut lining and promote digestive health.
4 Ways to Fit More Collagen into Your Diet
Collagen has so, so many benefits! Fortunately, incorporating this powerful protein into your diet can be simple and delicious, too. Here are 4 ways to get more collagen in your diet. (The last one is going to surprise you!)
- Bone broth. This savory comfort food is best slow-cooked for 12–14 hours to extract all of the healing nutrients and minerals from the bones. Quality is important. Look for clean, organic sources of bones from beef, chicken, pork, or fish. Interested in trying bone broth to boost your collagen levels? This simple recipe will get you started!
- All-in-1 Shake. If you want bone broth power without the hassle, each serving of this yummy protein powder gives you protein to help build muscle, cartilage, and ligaments.* Our Paleo-Inspired All-in-1 Shake contains HydroBEEF, a highly concentrated beef protein sourced from animals raised in Sweden. The peptides in the shake allow for easy absorption and assimilation. You’ll find the Paleo-Inspired All-in-1 Shake in chocolate or vanilla here.
- Collagen powder. Collagen powder is a convenient way to get this multitasking protein. All Systems Glow Collagen contains a unique blend of three patented collagen peptides to optimize collagen production and support strong bones and joints along with promoting the appearance of healthy-looking skin.* All Systems Glow Collagen can be incorporated into shakes or coffee, providing a simple way to ensure adequate intake of collagen’s unique amino acids.
- Gluten-Free Collagen Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. You probably weren’t expecting to find cookies here! But our Gluten-Free Collagen Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe makes a delicious way to incorporate collagen. Trust me, no one in your family will know these cookies are healthy besides you!
One last thing. Poor hydration means your body can make less new collagen, and the existing collagen becomes brittle. Make sure you’re sticking to my water schedule. Find out how much water you need daily here.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
- Lodish H, Berk A, Zipursky SL, et al. Molecular Cell Biology. 4th edition. New York: W. H. Freeman; 2000. Section 22.3, Collagen: The Fibrous Proteins of the Matrix. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK21582/
- Danby FW. Nutrition and aging skin: sugar and glycation. Clin Dermatol. 2010 Jul-Aug;28(4):409-11. doi: 10.1016/j.clindermatol.2010.03.018. PMID: 20620757.
- Bolke L, Schlippe G, Gerß J, Voss W. A Collagen Supplement Improves Skin Hydration, Elasticity, Roughness, and Density: Results of a Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Blind Study. Nutrients. 2019 Oct 17;11(10):2494. doi: 10.3390/nu11102494. PMID: 31627309; PMCID: PMC6835901.
- Hexsel D, Zague V, Schunck M, Siega C, Camozzato FO, Oesser S. Oral supplementation with specific bioactive collagen peptides improves nail growth and reduces symptoms of brittle nails. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2017 Dec;16(4):520-526. doi: 10.1111/jocd.12393. Epub 2017 Aug 8. PMID: 28786550.
- Sokolove J, Lepus CM. Role of inflammation in the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis: latest findings and interpretations. Ther Adv Musculoskelet Dis. 2013 Apr;5(2):77-94. doi: 10.1177/1759720X12467868. PMID: 23641259; PMCID: PMC3638313.
- Feng X. Chemical and Biochemical Basis of Cell-Bone Matrix Interaction in Health and Disease. Curr Chem Biol. 2009 May 1;3(2):189-196. doi: 10.2174/187231309788166398. PMID: 20161446; PMCID: PMC2790195.
- König D, Oesser S, Scharla S, Zdzieblik D, Gollhofer A. Specific Collagen Peptides Improve Bone Mineral Density and Bone Markers in Postmenopausal Women-A Randomized Controlled Study. Nutrients. 2018 Jan 16;10(1):97. doi: 10.3390/nu10010097. PMID: 29337906; PMCID: PMC5793325.
- Tomosugi N, Yamamoto S, Takeuchi M, Yonekura H, Ishigaki Y, Numata N, Katsuda S, Sakai Y. Effect of Collagen Tripeptide on Atherosclerosis in Healthy Humans. J Atheroscler Thromb. 2017 May 1;24(5):530-538. doi: 10.5551/jat.36293. Epub 2016 Oct 6. PMID: 27725401; PMCID: PMC5429168.
- Gillies AR, Lieber RL. Structure and function of the skeletal muscle extracellular matrix. Muscle Nerve. 2011 Sep;44(3):318-31. doi: 10.1002/mus.22094. PMID: 21949456; PMCID: PMC3177172.
- Zdzieblik D, Oesser S, Baumstark MW, Gollhofer A, König D. Collagen peptide supplementation in combination with resistance training improves body composition and increases muscle strength in elderly sarcopenic men: a randomised controlled trial. Br J Nutr. 2015 Oct 28;114(8):1237-45. doi: 10.1017/S0007114515002810. Epub 2015 Sep 10. PMID: 26353786; PMCID: PMC4594048
- Albaugh VL, Mukherjee K, Barbul A. Proline Precursors and Collagen Synthesis: Biochemical Challenges of Nutrient Supplementation and Wound Healing. J Nutr. 2017 Nov;147(11):2011-2017. doi: 10.3945/jn.117.256404. Epub 2017 Oct 4. PMID: 28978679; PMCID: PMC5657141.
- Chen Q, Chen O, Martins IM, Hou H, Zhao X, Blumberg JB, Li B. Collagen peptides ameliorate intestinal epithelial barrier dysfunction in immunostimulatory Caco-2 cell monolayers via enhancing tight junctions. Food Funct. 2017 Mar 22;8(3):1144-1151. doi: 10.1039/c6fo01347c. PMID: 28174772.
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