Everywhere you look there’s another advert for a collagen supplement. No-one likes wrinkles, so this really looks good! But is collagen something we should all be taking as we get older?
Collagen is a major structural protein that is produced in the body. Collagen is needed to make cartilage, ligaments, tendons, bone, and teeth and it is what gives skin elasticity and strength.
Collagen is found in meat, chicken, fish, eggs, and bone broth. You can also take collagen as a supplement in the form of tablets or powders. However, increasing your intake of collagen or foods high in collagen does not automatically translate to increased collagen levels in the body. As with every other protein, once collagen is consumed it is broken down into amino acids for absorption into the body. These amino acids are then used to make whatever protein is needed in the body. There is no research available to prove that the amino acids that come from dietary collagen will then be formed back into collagen in the body.
So what does this mean?
Spending money on collagen supplements to increase collagen levels in the body is unnecessary. What this means is that to make collagen in the body the amino acids do not have to come from collagen itself. As long as you are eating enough protein in general (examples include meat, chicken, fish, dairy, eggs, beans, tofu, soya, and even wholegrains) so that your body has enough amino acids, as well as the other nutrients that the body needs to make collagen (vitamin C, zinc and copper) your body will be able to make collagen.
Taking collagen supplements will not harm, although there has been some concern of contaminants and heavy metals. But you could also improve your diet to include good sources of protein and enough vegetables, fruit and whole-grains for good vitamin and mineral intake so that the body can do what it is able to do. Supplements have their place, but always think food first.