Potential Health Benefits of Collagen and 1 Thing it Cant Do
Who would have thought that a substance found in bones and skin could become the need-to-have supplement? Weâ€™re talking collagen.
â€œCollagen is a type of protein that plays an important role in building and supporting many tissues, from bones and cartilage to skin, hair, eyes, and the digestive system,â€ says Sonya Angelone, RDN, who practices in San Francisco and is a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
When you take a collagen supplement or eat foods rich in collagen, you are consuming collagen that comes from an animal, explains Ryanne Lachman, RDN, a functional medicine dietitian at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. Collagen peptides are often sold in powdered or capsule form, and collagen can also be consumed in bone broth.
While collagen is generally safe, you should always talk to your healthcare team before adding a supplement to your diet. Side effects may also occur: According to ConsumerLab.com, collagen supplements may cause a rash or, in rarer cases, liver problems.
Aside from that, a universal downside to collagen supplements is that they add an extra expense to your grocery bill. One popular collagen peptide brand, Vital Proteins, sells a 10-ounce container for $25. A 30-day supply of collagen supplements for skin, hair, and nails from the brand Hum is $40.
If youâ€™re going to invest in taking them, itâ€™s important to know the bevy of possible benefits collagen supplements can provide. Read on.
1. Supplements Help Replace Whatâ€™s Naturally Lost Through Aging
Collagen is the â€œglueâ€ that holds your body together, says Angelone. It makes up about one-third of the protein in your body, research shows. Thing is, she says, your body produces less collagen starting in your thirties and forties. Collagen peptides added to your diet may serve to replace what your body begins to lack as you age, and support your overall health.
2. Collagen Is an Easy-to-Digest Source of Protein
Your body works hard to digest protein from sources like chicken or beef, and some people may find that they deal with digestive symptoms like burping or stomach pain after a meal, explains Lachman. But collagen supplements are hydrolyzed, meaning the collagen is broken down, a process that makes it easier for your body to digest. Collagen supplements may potentially be a more comfortable way to get protein into your diet, she says. The process of hydrolyzing also allows collagen peptides to dissolve in water, which makes it relatively simple to use them in everyday foods (like water or smoothies).
5. Oral Supplements May Promote Gut Health
In inflammatory digestive conditions, such as irritable bowel disease (IBD), there is a â€œgut healingâ€ theory about collagen. â€œSome research finds that collagen levels are decreased in patients with these conditions. By taking collagen, you would help correct a deficiency,â€ says Lachman.
9. Collagen Wonâ€™t Help You Lose Weight
Eating enough protein is important to a healthy diet. The nutrient is needed to support your body in building muscle â€” lean tissue that is more metabolically active than fat (meaning it leads to faster metabolism, according to the Mayo Clinic). But youâ€™ll want to put collagen in perspective here: It canâ€™t be the only change you make to your diet and lifestyle habits. â€œAdding a collagen powder to a diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates and excess calories wonâ€™t help you lose weight,â€ says Lachman.
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