Collagen – what are its benefits and is it necessary at all?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body. Its fibrous structure is used to make connective tissue. As the name suggests, this type of tissue connects other tissues and is the main component of bones, skin, muscles, tendons, and cartilage. It helps to make tissues strong and durable that can withstand stretching.
In food, collagen is naturally found only in animal meat containing connective tissue, such as meat and fish. However, many animal and plant foods contain materials for our own body’s collagen production.
Our bodies gradually produce less collagen as we age, but collagen production decreases most rapidly due to excessive sun exposure, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and lack of sleep and exercise. With age, the collagen in the deep layers of the skin changes from a tightly organized network of fibers to a disorganized maze. Exposure to the environment can damage collagen fibers, weaken their thickness and strength, causing wrinkles on the surface of the skin.
Supplementing collagen with nutritional supplements
Despite being abundant in our bodies, collagen has become a top-selling supplement designed to improve hair, skin, and nails—key components of the fountain of youth. For many, the idea of taking collagen in the form of supplements is appealing to get results “instantly”.
Oral collagen supplements in the form of tablets, powders, and certain foods are believed to be more efficiently absorbed by the body and have skyrocketed in popularity. They can be sold as collagen peptides or hydrolysed collagen, which are degradable forms of collagen that are more easily absorbed. Collagen supplements contain amino acids, the building blocks of protein, and some may also contain other nutrients related to healthy skin and hair, such as vitamin C, biotin, or zinc.
What does the research say about collagen supplements?
Most of the research done on collagen supplements is related to joint and skin health. No human studies have been conducted yet, but some randomized controlled trials have shown that collagen supplements improve skin elasticity. Other studies have shown that supplements can improve joint mobility and reduce joint pain, such as from osteoarthritis or sports.
Collagen is about 60% of cartilage, a very strong tissue that surrounds bones and cushions them from impacts caused by strong movements; thus, the breakdown of collagen can lead to cartilage loss and joint problems.
The downside of collagen supplements is not knowing exactly what is in it or if the supplement does what the label advertises. There are also concerns about collagen supplements containing heavy metals. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration does not review dietary supplements for safety or effectiveness before they are sold to consumers. A good place to buy collagen in Finland is the HC PRO online store. All collagens in the HC Pro online store are certified by the European Union.
A healthy lifestyle will help keep you young
Alcohol consumption and smoking accelerate aging.
In the summer, always use high-quality sunscreens in the sun and protect yourself from the direct sun for longer.
Get enough sleep. For the average person, this means 7-9 hours a day.
Avoid smoking or passive smoking.
Manage stress. Chronically high cortisol levels can reduce collagen production.
Although the exact link between exercise and skin quality is unclear, some studies have shown that exercise slows down the activity of cells associated with aging skin. Here we mean any exercise that goes beyond your normal daily routine. Any other “workout” that does not raise the heart rate enough and put the metabolism to work properly is a waste of time from the point of view of skin condition and health.