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Collagen Peptides and Supplements

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Americans love their anti-aging products. When it comes to one of the most recent darlings, collagen ranks right there at the top. This year Americans spent over 46 million dollars to absorb the promises of collagen supplements. 

What is collagen? It is the most plentiful and important structural protein in the body, the long chain of amino acids that makes up our skin, bones and connective tissue. Collagen is made up of 19 amino acids; the predominant ones are proline, hydroxyproline and glycine, which give it unique functional properties. Our bodies regularly produce collagen daily, but over time, production slows down, possibly causing joint pain, wrinkles or crepey skin, bone loss and more. 

Collagen peptides or supplements may help. Peptides are hydrolyzed collagen made by breaking down collagen molecules. They carry the same amino acids as collagen, but they have different properties and are absorbed into the blood stream a little more easily. After absorption, collagen peptides travel throughout the body, repairing, rebuilding and providing energy. 

By eating more foods such as organ meats and bone broth, we can add more collagen to our bodies naturally. But if that isn’t your idea of fun, you can also reap the benefits of collagen with supplements, which can be called peptides or supplements and are a convenient way to receive the dietary benefits of what occurs naturally in our body. 

What Are the Potential Benefits?
As we age, our cartilage weakens and deteriorates, causing stiff, achy joints. One of the most popular reasons for consuming collagen is to offer joint pain relief and allow more function of our ligaments and tendons. Taking collagen supplements can help ward off further worsening of the joints. Collagen may also reverse the signs of aging, including improving the skin’s condition with moisture, elasticity, texture and improvement of wrinkles. Other potential benefits include the decrease in bone loss; prevention and treatment of osteoarthritis and osteoporosis; improvement in digestive or gut health; improvement in heart health and the potential for increased fat burning and reduced cellulite.

Ways to Take Collagen
To supplement collagen intake, many experts recommend drinking bone broth. Bone broth can be made it by simmering bones in water or it can be purchased in stores. The collagen is drawn out of beef, chicken or fish bones and can be used in other dishes or consumed as a beverage. 

Another option is to take hydrolyzed collagen, or collagen peptide, powder, which usually has no flavor and dissolves in soups, smoothies, beverages and sauces. Collagen is also available in pre-dosed, ready-to-drink bottles. While some are very small, the size of a shot, some are larger and mixed with water or other liquids. Collagen can also be injected to smooth facial lines and some types of scars. 

Are There Side Effects?
Most experts agree collagen is a safe ingredient, but some side effects may occur from use. Hypercalcemia, or high calcium levels, can occur in individuals who are taking both collagen peptides and using supplements with high concentrations of calcium. Using collagen with over-the-counter meds such as Tums® or Rolaids® is actually one of the more common causes of hypercalcemia. Some people may also be hypersensitive to certain sources of collagen such as that derived from cows, shellfish and fish, while others may experience a strange taste in the mouth after consuming. Although it may be considered a benefit by some, collagen can suppress the appetite. Studies show that gelatin and collagen increase satiety, which can lead to eating less at meals.

Do Collagen Supplements Really Work?
There is evidence that taking collagen can help the body. A 2018 study by Japanese nutrition scientists investigated the effects of ingesting hydrolyzed collagen over a four-week period. Changes were found in the levels of hydroxyproline peptides in the bloodstream, while other studies found levels of collagen peptides in the bloodstream after ingestion.

Are Collagen Supplements for You?
Supplements may not be the answer for everyone. Other lifestyle choices can support our body’s own ability to produce this important component. By reducing our exposure to free radicals and pollution, cutting out excessive sun exposure and stopping any smoking, we set ourselves up for additional collagen production. We can also improve our body’s collagen levels by drinking plenty of water, eating lots of vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables, and eating other anti-inflammatory foods such as salmon, fatty fish and nuts. 

If you’ve been thinking about joining the peptide people, you’re probably in good company. Overall, the research is supportive that collagen supplements can be a good choice when it comes to taking care of aging joints and skin. Like any supplements, though, collagen is not closely regulated by the FDA. Some brands and forms of collagen are better than others. Do your leg work and proceed with positivity but precaution.

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