Health

Collagen [college-in] and do I need it?

My sister randomly asked: “Bro what’s collagen?”

Stumped! I didn’t have an answer for her! We all talk about carbs, proteins and fats, in that order even. Throw in some Vitamins: B-complex, D etc., which most of us need supplements for already. But what else is out there that’s not on our radars? Here’s one to start!

Collagen in the main structural protein in the extracellular space in the various connective tissues in the body. It is the main component of connective tissue. Wikipedia

So it is a protein, and the most abundant one. It makes up  30-40% of the whole-body protein content. OK! It’s not that common to be deficient in. But it’s good to know what it is and make sure we are getting enough through our diets or with supplementation. We can’t tell now, but a diet low in collagen will affect us at a later stage in life. And these things are usually irreparable. Should we do something about it now?

For one, it can affect your skin and how you look. Collagen helps promote the production of other proteins that help structure your skin. Wrinkles and skin dryness happen because of low collagen. Our bodies produce collagen but as we age the production reduces by 1-2% per year after we hit our 20’s. God knows the experiments/trials done to figure that one out.

Other factors, UV exposure and smoking (even second-hand), also affect our production. Enjoy tanning? SPF is a must. Smoking? Good luck. See for yourself! Just find someone elder you know who has been recklessly tanning in the sun or smoking for as long as you can remember. How do they look today? I don’t mean to sound grim, but heads up!

I noticed at a friends place a bottle of collagen supplements recently. Why? I asked. For joint health. Your tendons (muscle to bone) and ligaments (bone to bone) are connective tissue that make up all the joints in your body and are made up of collagen. For bone health. Your bones are made of mostly collagen. How do we not know this stuff? Osteoporosis and osteoarthritis are inevitable in the course of old age, but we can delay these problems and live a happier, more mobile life for much longer if we are mindful today. Calcium is only one piece of the puzzle.

low collagen bone vs healthy

Further reading has taught me that a healthy supply of collagen is good for muscle growth and heart health (to do with strong arteries). Some sources mention benefits to gut health, brain health, nail and hair health as well as weight loss but without enough scientific backing.

So should I take this supplement?

I’m an advocate for getting all nutritional requirements from food naturally, aren’t we all? Meats, beans, eggs and dairy are good sources of collagen, protein in general. One researcher I follow religiously mentions ‘omnivores need collagen to balance out all the muscle meat’.  There are no vegetarian sources of collagen. The good news is that your body produces all the collagen you should need by just eating more of a whole foods diet depicted below.

Image result for whole foods diet

Additionally, fruits, nuts, seeds, avocados and a lot of leafy greens boost collagen production. The supplement industry is out of control and many people try to use it as a quick fix, sometimes causing other issues and deficiencies as a result of taking too many supplements. Look into taking this supplement if you feel your diet  does not contain plenty of protein, if recommended by a professional.

Image result for protein

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