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Collagen is the single most abundant, naturally occurring protein in mammals and the second most common substance found in the body (water being the first) It is the glue that holds our bodies together and is present in our skin, muscles, bones and tendons. Protein makes up 20% of the body’s mass and collagen makes up an impressive 30% of that protein, providing structural support, strength and elasticity. Collagen is also required in the replacement and restoration of dead skin cells. There are at least sixteen types of collagen but 80-90% of our bodies are made up of only types I, II and III. The collagens in the human body are strong and flexible. Type I collagen fibrils are particularly tensile and are stronger than steel, gram for gram. Collagen is composed of the individual amino acids Glycine, Proline, glutamine, hydroxyproline and Arginine. Proline and glycine, in particular, play a major role in ensuring your body’s functioning smoothly. Proline makes up almost 15% of collagen. It helps your artery walls release fat buildup in the bloodstream, shrinking the fat in the arteries and minimizing fat accumulation. Healthy arteries = healthy heart! Proline can also be found in foods such as egg whites, meat, cheese, soy and cabbage. Glycine also makes up a major portion of collagen. And while size-wise it’s the smallest amino acid, it helps build healthy DNA strands to ensure our cells function properly. Under normal circumstances, these conditional amino acids are naturally produced by the body but in the event of sickness, stress or otherwise unhealthy living habits, your body may not be able to produce enough of them alone. Collagen is secreted by a variety of different cells, primarily by connective tissue cells and while young, the body consistently produces collagen. However, collagen synthesis begins to decline in our mid-twenties, with a dramatic reduction in women after menopause. This process brings with it the onset of wrinkles, sagging skin and weaker cartilage in your joints. By the age of 60 there is typically a considerable decline in collagen production. Other factors, like diets high in sugar, smoking, stress, gut imbalances and prolonged sun exposure, also contribute to depleting collagen levels.
With age, changes in the metabolic processes of structural components of the skin lead to visible signs of aging, such as increased dryness, loose skin and wrinkle formation. The two main layers that make up the skin are the epidermis and the dermis. The epidermis is the outermost layer of the skin. Tough and resilient, its primary job is protection, forming a waterproof barrier that keeps pathogens at bay and gives us our individual skin tone. The dermis is the inner layer of the skin and contains fibroblasts, which produce elastin and collagen, including type I and type III. Collagen fibres, 70% of the proteins in the dermis, gives dermis its resistance to strain and traction, while elastin supply its elastic properties. For the skin to function normally and appear youthful, the structure of the dermal layer must be maintained because the dermis provides structural support to the epidermis, which carries the blood vessels and supplies the skin with important nutrients for its functioning. The results from two placebo-controlled clinical trials carried out last year, show daily oral supplementation with collagen significantly increased skin hydration and collagen density in the dermis after just 8 weeks of intake and the depletion of the collagen network significantly reduced after only 4 weeks.
During aging, hair and nails gradually become more brittle, hair breakage occurs, and as a result, both become thinner. Collagen is a key component to new hair growth and hair quality. Supplemental collagen can increase the hair shaft, improve hair and nail growth, and improve its quality to reduce breakage during the life of the hair.
Think of it like greasing a creaky door hinge, your joints need the same treatment and in this case, supplementing with collagen is your WD40. Stiffness and swollen joints can be the result of collagen loss as our tendons and ligaments begin to move with less ease. After a recent study carried out on Collagen hydrolysate for the treatment of osteoarthritis and other joint disorders, a growing body of evidence has provided a logical reasoning for the use of collagen supplementation on OA sufferers.
With better hydration, muscle repair and elasticity (among the whole host of other benefits collagen contributes to our bodies), it’s no wonder our energy levels and metabolism will be improved. Gylcine, found in collagen, helps pump sugar into your body’s tissue to increase energy levels. It also helps in muscle development — and muscles burn more calories than fat. It’s also one of three amino acids that form creatine, which promotes healthy muscle growth and boosts energy production during workouts. Just to clarify, collagen protein itself does not burn fat, what it does is (combined with Vitamin C) boost your metabolism to its optimum state to do so.
Gastrointestinal disorders are amongst the most common health issues to affect Canadians. Collagen will help to Increase stomach acid as the amino acids increase gastric acid secretion, helping to better digest your food and prevent heartburn. Glycine and proline protect the stomach lining from injury and even prevent ulcers due to stress via a positive impact on the central nervous system. Glutamine, yet another amino acid present in collagen, is proven to improve the lining of the intestinal tract and heal “leaky gut” syndrome, a common condition where the lining of the intestines becomes weakened. A strengthening of the intestinal lining also helps to prevent food allergies by keeping food from leaching into the bloodstream.
Cellulite is a result of fatty tissues pushing up through fibers in the skin’s upper layer. This pushing action is what gives the recognizable dimpling (that we all associate with cellulite) Decreased elasticity in the skin is a result of weakened collagen. Because the skin is now thinner and less able to conceal the irregularities below the surface, cellulite becomes more evident. Improving your skin’s elasticity through collagen supplementation will help reduce that unwanted dimpling on your skin.
If you’re eating a low nutrient diet or have a stressed liver, chances are you are not able to manufacture all the non-essential amino acids that your body actually demands.In particular, the liver needs an abundance of glycine (there it is again) to support neutralization of toxins and fuel phase 2 detoxification in the liver and help your body “take out the trash.” In today’s ultra toxic world, often the body cannot make enough glycine to keep up with your detoxification needs (a toxin is anything from chemicals, food additives, alcohol, recreational drugs etc).
Our ancestors consumed hefty amounts of collagen as a natural way of life, as traditional diets consisted of whole-animal consumption. To put it bluntly, they ate it all, bones, cartilage, skin, tendons, ligaments.. All the juicy things we reject today. Thankfully there are less messy ways to get your collagen intake nowadays and it doesn’t all have to be in the form of costly supplements. You can get right back to basics by rustling up a simple homemade bone broth made from the leftover carcass from your Thanksgiving dinner. As these inedible animal parts simmer for hours or days, they release collagen in an easy-to-absorb, delicious broth. Certain foods, ones heavy in amino acids, promote collagen growth more than others. Animal products like eggs, poultry, fish and milk can all help boost collagen formation. If you decide to supplement your diet, make sure that you do your research and purchase powder from grass-fed, pasture-raised cows (with no antibiotics or chemicals). We recommend the latest collagen protein by Organika. This Enhanced Bovine Collagen is hydrolyzed for easy absorption and sourced from grass-fed cows that are rBGH & BSE-free (no antibiotics or hormones), with no artificial sweeteners or GMO ingredients. The fine, tasteless powder dissolves instantly and can be easily added to smoothies, yogurt, oatmeal or even baked goods. Collagen supplements also come in liquid forms such as Lorna Vanderhaeghe’s Collagen Plus or if you prefer a capsule form, her Active Collagen is the perfect choice. It is important to know that there are many factors that support the formation and use of collagen in the body, such as vitamin C, manganese, copper, proline and foods high in the Anthocyanidins (a bioflavnoid) such as blueberries, cherries and blackberries. In order for collagen to be activated in the body, you should always take your supplements with a source of amino acids and vitamin C, or make sure that your supplement includes these activating nutrients to ensure absorption and usefulness to your body.