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Collagen 101: The essential guide to nature’s building block

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The essential guide to collagen (Photo: Shutterstock)
  • What is collagen?
  • It is essential for skin, bones joints and more.
  • Learn everything about nature’s building block.

Collagen is a buzzword that has taken the beauty and health world by storm.

But what exactly is it, and why should you care?

This essential protein serves as the building block for various parts of the body like skin, bones, and tendons.

Here, we demystify collagen, discussing its functions, types and how you can optimize it in your body for better health and appearance.

What is collagen?

What is collagen, cells, skin
Photo: Shutterstock

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, making up about 30% of all the protein in our system.

It’s found in skin, bones, muscles and tendons — essentially serving as the «glue» that holds our body together.

This protein provides strength and structure, but it’s also responsible for the elasticity and hydration of our skin.

As we age, our collagen production decreases, leading to wrinkles, joint pains and other age-related issues.

Types of collagen

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Photo: Mundo Archive

Though collagen is a single term, it comes in at least 16 different types.

The most common are types I, II, and III, which support skin, muscle, bone health and more.

Type I is the strongest form and makes up most of the collagen in your skin, hair and nails.

Types II and III are commonly found in cartilage and the digestive system, offering support and elasticity in those areas.

Natural sources of collagen

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Collagen can be obtained naturally through the foods you eat.

Meat, especially bone broth, is an excellent source, as are fish and egg whites.

Plant-based options include berries, garlic and leafy greens, which offer a variety of nutrients that can help in collagen synthesis.

Incorporating these foods into your diet can enhance your body’s natural collagen production.

What is collagen? Supplements

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If getting enough collagen through your diet proves challenging, supplements can fill in the gaps.

These supplements usually come in powder or capsule form and are made from animal byproducts like cowhide or fish scales.

Studies have shown that collagen supplements can improve skin elasticity, hydration and even reduce wrinkles.

However, it’s essential to consult a healthcare provider before adding any new supplement to your routine.

Collagen benefits for the skin

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Photo: Mundo Archive

One of the most talked-about benefits of collagen is its impact on skin health.

Increased collagen levels lead to skin that is more elastic, hydrated and generally healthier.

Many skincare products are infused with collagen to offer topical benefits, although ingesting collagen is generally more effective for long-term skin health.

So whether it’s through diet or supplements, boosting your collagen intake can lead to visibly healthier skin.

Collagen and joint health

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Photo: Mundo Archive

Beyond the skin, collagen plays a crucial role in joint health.

It helps to maintain the integrity of your cartilage, which is the rubber-like tissue protecting your joints.

As the amount of collagen in your body decreases with age, you’re more likely to develop degenerative joint disorders like osteoarthritis.

Supplements have been found to relieve joint pain and improve overall joint functionality.

Effects on hair and nails

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Photo: Mundo Archive

Collagen is a significant component of your hair and nails as well.

A deficiency can lead to brittle nails and lackluster hair.

On the flip side, ample collagen can result in stronger, healthier hair and nails.

Many people report seeing significant improvements in these areas after increasing their collagen intake through diet or supplements.

Collagen is your friend

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In summary, collagen is a versatile protein that contributes to many aspects of health and well-being.

From enhancing skin quality to fortifying joints and bones, collage benefits are wide-ranging.

Through mindful dietary choices and possibly supplements, you can support your body’s collagen levels and enjoy the many perks it has to offer.

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