By Heide Kennedy, Arizona Farm Bureau Communications Intern
Of all the different supplements that have been becoming popular in recent years, I’d venture to say that collagen has either topped or is near the top of that list. With claims of keeping skin from sagging and also keeping hair and nails from becoming brittle, there’s no wonder that collagen-rich foods and collagen supplements are gaining lots of attention. Unlike some supplements that make amazing claims about what they can do for you when really the effects are little to none, collagen is actually a very legitimate supplement that really does what it is supposed to do. Let’s look at what collagen really is and where it comes from, why we need collagen, and finally some of the best sources of collagen.
According to registered dietician Jillian Kubala, collagen is a type of protein that makes up the structure of your body’s cells and tissues. To get even deeper into what collagen is, Kubala says that it is made of 3 amino acids, glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline. These make up the triple helix structure of the collagen. Collagen is typically found in connective tissue, tendons, bones, skin, and cartilage.
Often, it’s said that we need collagen to keep from aging too quickly. While this is one benefit of taking collagen, there is a deeper reason why we need it (and subsequently get anti-aging benefits from it!). Collagen serves multiple purposes in our bodies, which Kubala says include:
- Tissue repair
- Immune response
- Cell communication
- Cell migration
Our bodies naturally make collagen, but as we age our production of collagen slows, and our existing collagen tends to become brittle and fracture, which leads to signs of aging. Additionally, Kubala says that other lifestyle factors such as excessive smoking, drinking, or sun exposure also speed up the rate at which our collagen production drops. So, this also means that all of those jobs that collagen does in our body begin to not be done as well due to the reduction of collagen. This is why as we age, it’s important to keep our bodies well-nourished with collagen.
So, what are some of the different sources of collagen we can incorporate into our diets? There are both foods that we eat that are high in collagen, foods that promote the production of collagen in our bodies, or there are also concentrated supplements of collagen that can be taken as well.
Some collagen rich foods include:
- Bone broth or marrow
- Meats with skin on
- Fish skins
Some of the foods that promote the production of collagen include:
Foods and supplements are both great sources of collagen. You can have one or the other, or both! For some, cooking up collagen rich foods might be an easier option, while others might prefer just adding a scoop of collagen powder to their coffee in the morning!
So, there you have the “scoop” on collagen, including what it is and what its made of, what it does for your body, and some good sources to include in your diet!
For more health-related articles, check out the Fill Your Plate blog!