The first time I noticed wrinkles, I was not even thirty.
If you came here asking yourself “what is collagen?” and now you’re wondering why I’m opening this post with a line about my wrinkles, don’t bounce just yet; they’re connected.
Sun-dried skin, a dull complexion, crow’s feet, and saggy cheekbones may all be related to low collagen production. When I first noticed small thin lines between my forehead and around the corners of my eyes I became worried - I was not even thirty and I thought I lived a pretty healthy life.
Panicking (not gonna lie) I started to use more facial skincare products, but that was not the answer. It took me a while to realize I was slowly depleting my skin-preserving collagen stores faster than usual: not getting enough sleep, getting little Vitamin C, and not protecting myself from the sun.
That’s when I learned:
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body and helps preserve skin integrity. As collagen production decreases naturally with time, it is linked to the aging process, and while it is an excellent addition to face cream we really need to build it up from the inside out.
If you’re interested in healthy skin, looking radiant, and defying gravity: collagen (and this post) may be right for you!
What is Collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in most animals; it is the main component in connective tissue and makes about 25% to 30% of the whole body protein content, as well as 70% of the protein content in the skin.
Because it is a structural protein it can be found in bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, hair, skin, blood vessels, the dentin in teeth, intervertebral discs, and the digestive tract system.
What is collagen to humans? A critical element that allows us to move better, bend and stretch! Because it supports skin integrity, providing both strength and elasticity, collagen not only helps you look better, it protects your delicate organs and allows your body to grow and contract as needed.
Additionally, it participates in the replacement and reparation of damaged and dead skin cells. In a way, it is the “glue” that holds the body together, while also giving joints and tendons that cushioning we need to survive an active life. If you ever heard that gelatin was good for the joints, this is why: when collagen breaks down, it turns into gelatin.
What Is Collagen Made Of?
Collagen is considered a complex protein as it has 18 different amino-acids, out of which the most well known for the health of skin, hair, and nails are glycine, proline, hydroxyproline, and arginine. It is composed of an unusual triple helix, which generally has two identical chains and one that is slightly different from the other two in its chemical composition.
In plain English: what is collagen made of? Amino acids forming chains which form building blocks in the body (bones, tendons, joints, muscles, skin, etc.)
The most abundant amino acids in collagen are:
- Proline: is about 15% of collagen, it protects blood vessels, improves joint cushioning, and supports cardiovascular function.
- Glycine: It is approximately one-third of collagen. It participates in the production of DNA strands. Forms creatine, along with other two amino acids, supporting muscle growth and boosting energy generation.
- Glutamine: created in muscles or obtained from natural food sources it is an important amino acid that helps reduce anxiety, insomnia, brain fog, inadequate digestive function, weakened immune system, and low energy.
- Arginine: helps produce nitric oxide within the body, which supports cardiovascular health and the immune system.
Additionally, collagen is made of Alanine, Hydroxyproline, Glutamic acid, Aspartic acid, Serine, Lysine, Leucine, Valine, Threonine, Phenylalanine, Isoleucine, Hydroxylysine, Methionine, Histidine, Tyrosine, Cysteine.
What is Collagen Good For?
If you’ve asked yourself what is collagen, you probably followed it with “what is collagen good for?” and the truth is that the health benefits of collagen are not limited to skincare and youth; there’s a lot more this critical protein does for the human body.
#1 May Prevent Joint Degeneration
Stiff joints, pain while moving, getting up, walking, jogging or changing positions may be due to low collagen levels. As collagen levels drop joints, tendons, and ligaments experience inflammation, pain, loss of mobility, and more.
Studies suggest that collagen may help athletes perform better and reduce joint pain, may relieve osteoarthritis symptoms, and decrease degenerative joint issues in knees, elbows, etc.
#2 Might Prevent Bone Loss
If you’re asking yourself “what is collagen to bones?” you may be surprised to find out that bones are mostly made of collagen and strengthens them. Research shows that collagen helps prevent bone density loss and breakage, which usually leads to osteoporosis.
#3 May Support Muscle Mass Generation
Several studies infer that collagen promotes the production of creatinine which is essential for muscle mass, which is 1 to 10% collagen anyway. One study showed that a collagen supplement helped some men gain more muscle than those in the control group, while another one showed it helped regenerate muscle lost due to age.
#4 Might Boost the Metabolism
Collagen may boost the metabolic by helping create new lean muscle mass and supporting nutrient conversion.
#5 May Preserve Skin, Hair, and Nails
What is collagen if not the most well-known protein for skin care? This is usually benefit #1, but we wanted to show it does more than that. However, collagen benefits skin elasticity, hydration, reduces wrinkle depth, and when taken as a supplement it helps the body produce collagen on its own. Multiple studies show that it is inherently connected to healthy nails, hair growth, and hydrated more radiant skin.
Expensive skin care products are not the only way to get healthy and young looking skin, that’s a skin care myth. Sometimes a simple collagen supplement can be the answer.
#6 Could Improve Cardiovascular Health
If you remember what collagen is made of, you’ll notice that one of the primary amino acids is proline, which helps release fat buildup in the bloodstream and clears arterial walls. This improves circulation. Studies show that collagen contributes to the prevention and treatment of atherosclerosis.
Collagen may also help liver detox by leveraging glycine and using it to support blood filtering and toxin removal. This, in turn, may help clear the gut of harmful bacteria. Collagen may also support weight loss by boosting the metabolic rate.
How to Boost Collagen Production
Collagen production decreases as we age naturally, but it can also be depleted (as I learned too soon) by lifestyle choices and habits: high cortisol levels, smoking, sleep deprivation, UV rays, excess sugar, refined carbohydrates, and low Vitamin C levels can all deplete or degenerate natural collagen levels.
Natural collagen by itself is not enough!
You have to help your body produce collagen and keep it at optimal levels. Fortunately, that’s not too hard to do:
- Get your recommended daily serving of Vitamin C.
- Eat foods with Proline in them like eggs, dairy, asparagus, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, tempeh, watercress, and mushrooms.
- Have bone broth; in the past, people ate all animal parts available. Today bone broth is a great alternative if liver, skin, and other organs aren’t appealing to you.
- Get some glycine from bananas, beans, cauliflower, kale, kiwi, cucumber, spinach, pumpkin (some great ingredients for a green juice)
- Animal and vegetable-based proteins, such as lean meats and tofu.
- Natural supplements - like our GLOW collagen support - that promote natural collagen production and feed your body other superfoods for glowing skin!
- Avoid cortisol and sleep deprivation, smoking, dehydration, and other agents that may accelerate collagen degeneration.
Try adding these changes to your routine and see what is collagen to your health in particular.
Take it Home
Collagen is a critical protein for our health and well-being, however as its natural production declines and is affected by external sources, it makes sense to eat foods and take supplements that help restore its optimum levels. Collagen helps regenerate skin, support cardiovascular, and improves bone density and muscle mass.
A healthy and balanced diet is always the first step towards health, research shows that eating balanced meals including collagen-promoting foods along with a supplement leads to positive outcomes in a short amount of time.
We hope this article cleared up your doubts and clearly explained what is collagen and why it is important for all of us. Are you taking collagen? Are you going to try our GLOW collagen support - a superfood powder perfect for your skin, nails and hair? Any results?
Send us your story, we’re defying gravity together!