Collagen is a substance that helps make your skin stronger. But there are many more benefits of this protein, including boosting your joint and cardiovascular health. Here’s a brief explanation of what collagen is, plus a few of the most important ways in which it helps keep you at your healthiest.
Collagen may be known more as something that helps promote skin health, but it’s actually found throughout the human body. It’s a protein that’s not only in your skin, but in your tendons, muscles, and bones. In a nutshell, this protein basically holds your body together. Endogenous is the type your body makes. Exogenous comes from supplements, food, and other outside sources.1
Collagen protein consists of 20 different amino acids. Each plays an important role in your body.
Some of the amino acids in collagen include:
- Glutamine – Glutamine is among the most critical amino acids in the body, and it’s also one of the most plentiful. You’ll find glutamine in many different foods, but your body also produces it. Glutamine helps keep your immune system strong, acts as fuel for your cells, and also helps wounds heal.2
- Arginine – Arginine delivers many important benefits to the body. It breaks down nitric oxide, helping maintain the health of your heart and arteries in the process. Other benefits include strengthening your immune system and improving blood flow.3
- Proline – This amino acid helps to make sure your blood vessels function properly. Proline also plays a role in helping to keep your heart healthy.4
When you’re suffering from an illness, your body might not produce enough of the amino acids you need. Thankfully, there are many amino acid supplements at your local drugstore.
Benefits of Collagen
Collagen protein helps your body in a lot of different ways. Here are just a few:
Collagen plays a role in maintaining a healthy metabolism and helping increase muscle mass. Another one of the amino acids is glycine. This helps “feed” your muscles by turning glucose into energy.5 Maintaining muscle mass is important, especially as you get older. WIthout enough muscle mass, you’ll be prone to bone issues. Glycine also helps keep both your nervous and digestive systems running smoothly. 6,7
Protecting Your Cardiovascular System
Again, the amino acid proline, which is found in collagen, helps to ensure that your arteries work correctly. Proline does this by helping to keep fat from accumulating on your arterial walls.8 In addition, the arginine in collagen boosts the production of nitric oxide. This keeps your blood vessels and muscles relaxed, so that blood can flow freely throughout your body.9
Maintaining Joint Health
As you get older, you may experience an increased amount of pain and stiffness when you move around. One reason this happens is because your body is losing collagen, increasing the chances you’ll have swollen joints. Your ligaments and tendons will also not work as efficiently as they used to.
Collagen helps your joints move as they should, almost like oil helps keep the internal components of an engine moving smoothly. It may even reduce the risk of joints degenerating as you get older.10 One study found that collagen could be effective in addressing joint disorders and joint pain.11
Another study found collagen helped decrease swelling in joints and relieved pain in patients suffering from joint issues.12 Yet another study showed that the protein significantly improved the quality of life of people suffering from severe joint discomfort. Participants reported that they found it much easier to perform everyday activities, such as going up or down stairs, or getting in and out of bed.13
Helping You Avoid Digestive Problems
Many people suffer from a problem known as leaky gut syndrome, or intestinal permeability. This is where the walls of your intestines become weak, allowing toxins to enter. This can lead to severe problems that affect not only your digestive tract, but the rest of your body as well.14 There is scientific evidence indicating that people with bowel problems associated with leaky gut syndrome have a reduced amount of collagen.15
Boosting Skin Health
Even though you might already know that collagen is good for your skin, it’s important to know why. When you don’t have enough of this protein, your skin may be looser, and less elastic. You may also notice more wrinkles. This protein helps to increase the smoothness and firmness of your skin. It also helps your skin cells regenerate and repair themselves.16
Researchers conducting studies on how collagen helps to reduce the signs of aging came up with some interesting results. They found that women who ingested between 2.5 and 5 grams of a supplement containing collagen reported several substantial improvements. Not only was their skin more elastic than before they took the supplements, they also had smoother skin. They took the supplement once a day for two months.17
Vitamin C Can Help Increase Your Collagen Supply
Increasing your intake of foods that contain vitamin C can also help increase the amount of collagen in your body. This vitamin helps your body synthesize hyaluronic acid, and research indicates that hyaluronic acid helps to increase the production of collagen.18 Oranges, strawberries, and broccoli are just a few of the foods that are rich in vitamin C. You can also find supplements that contain hyaluronic acid. Just make sure you speak with your doctor before you make any changes to your diet or use any sort of supplement.
Consider the Benefits of Collagen
As you can see, the benefits of collagen extend far beyond skin health. If you think you need a boost of this protein, consider adding a supplement to your health regimen. You might also want to eat more vitamin C-rich foods, to help your body produce more collagen.