Many have heard the term collagen but may not be aware of what it is and what it does. Collagen is a structural protein that makes up the connective tissues in the human body. In fact, most of us are made up of at least 25% collagen. Our bodies do a great job of making it, but there are also some people who take collagen as a supplement. Keep reading to learn more about collagen production and why we want it.
How the Body Makes Collagen
When we eat foods that are rich in amino acids such as eggs, fish, beef, chicken, and dairy, our bodies use those amino acids as the building blocks for muscle and tissue. It uses them to make collagen also by also using the micronutrients zinc, copper, and Vitamin C. If you are trying to increase collagen production, then you will need to be sure to eat an ample amount of foods that contain all nine of the essential amino acids, like those mentioned above.
What to Do to Increase Collagen
Though there are many collagen supplements on the market, it is rather easy to include the right foods in your diet to ensure ample collagen production. Some of these supplements are hydrolyzed so that they are easily mixed into hot or cold beverages. Though these is nothing wrong with these supplements, they tend to be overpriced. It’s definitely more cost effective to eat foods rich in amino acids such as eggs than to add a pricey supplement to your diet. Plus you get all the other nutrient benefits of eating those foods! If you are not a fan of meats and eggs, then use a simple generic gelatin and add a spoonful of it to your morning coffee or try a warm cup of collagen-rich bone broth. Make your own by simmering leftover bones with water, salt, lemon, and herbs. The acid from the lemon draws out the collagen from the bones and imparts a great flavor.
For those following a vegetarian or vegan diet, you will have to be a little more diligent to make sure you are giving your body what it needs to make collagen. There are very few sources of plant foods that contain all of the essential amino acids, and those are not highly bioavailable. That means that even if you are eating plenty of nutrient-rich foods, such as spirulina, quinoa, and tofu, your body may not be able to absorb what it needs. Vegetarians will need to include eggs and dairy to ensure they are getting complete proteins. Vegans can do so by combining proteins at each meal. This includes mixing legumes with grains or vegetables with nuts and seeds.
What NOT to Do to Increase Collagen
Since the price of supplements can be high, do not run out and buy some just to increase your collagen intake. Let your body make its own for free. You will want to ensure that you are not only getting all of the essential amino acids at each meal but to include the micronutrients required for collagen production. The micronutrients found in Brussels sprouts, oranges, and red bell peppers will make a great addition to the meat, eggs, and dairy that assist in providing that collagen boost.
Benefits of Collagen
Now that you know how to increase production of collagen, you can start reaping some of its benefits. It is known to improve joint health and is often taken by arthritis sufferers. Collagen helps to improve muscle mass which is great for women over 40 as they are at risk of bone loss. Some even report improvements in their skin as collagen may aid in reducing wrinkles.
If you are considering a boost to your collagen production, it is easy to do without adding supplements. If you do not take in that much meat, eggs, or dairy, then it may make sense to add a supplement or sip some bone broth. There is no need to break the bank to do so. The generic versions are affordable and will work just as well as the pricey ones.