by Rob Hughes
If you’ve ever tried bone broth or paid attention to ingredients in fancy lotions, you’ve probably heard of collagen. But what exactly is collagen, and why are so many people adding it to their daily health and beauty routines?
Simply put, collagen is a structural protein that binds our cells together. Different types of collagen help form and strengthen tissues and structures throughout the body including bones, muscles, skin, tendons, ligaments, and more.* On top of providing cellular scaffolding for many parts of the body, collagen also acts as a binder within these structures to keep them strong and flexible.* In fact, the word ‘collagen’ comes from the Greek word kolla, meaning glue. In many ways, collagen behaves like a kind of molecular glue that helps keep us together.
Collagen is the most plentiful protein in the body, which isn’t surprising considering that it’s a main structural component of many tissues including our largest organ—the skin. While there are at least 20 different types of collagen found in the human body, a vast majority consists of types I, II, and III. Of these, type I collagen is the most abundant form found throughout the human body. Tightly wound type I collagen fibers give skin strength and structure by supporting the layers of our skin from within.* Collagen also helps maintain the body’s regular cycle of replacing dead skin cells.*
Much like columns reinforce buildings, collagen supports the layers of our skin to keep it strong.* If a column within a building develops cracks that aren’t repaired in a timely manner, the structure may start to display signs of damage, or eventually collapse. Similarly, if collagen in the body degrades without being maintained or replaced, skin may start to show external signs of damage like wrinkles or a noticeable loss of smooth texture.
Resetting the clock
Unfortunately, the rate at which collagen is produced in the body naturally declines with age. Plus, collagen can become damaged through lifestyle factors such as smoking, excessive sugar consumption, nutrient deficiencies, and prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light (i.e., tanning). When the body no longer replaces collagen as quickly as it degrades, the telltale signs of aging appear—wrinkles, sagging skin, and loss of skin’s supple texture. That’s where collagen supplements come into the picture. Typically offered in powdered form, these supplements are a convenient way to help kick-start and maintain healthy collagen production in the body.*
Bioavailability—the body’s ability to absorb and utilize nutrients—is a key factor for all supplements, especially when it comes to collagen. The body must be able to absorb and distribute collagen peptides (short chains of two or more amino acids) quickly and efficiently in order to enjoy significant benefits. Since collagen is largely indigestible in its native form, it must be broken down into small collagen peptides so that it can be absorbed into the bloodstream. High-quality collagen supplements feature very small peptides, specifically formulated for better absorption and maximum effectiveness.
Balancing degradation and production
When absorbed and circulated to collagen-forming cells, supplemental collagen peptides stimulate collagen production by the body. This helps regain balance between collagen degradation and production, resulting in stronger, smoother, and healthier skin.* After just a few weeks, oral collagen supplementation can start to address the signs of aging. It’s simple to add collagen to your daily routine since powdered collagen peptides dissolve easily in water, beverages, or smoothies. The best expertly formulated supplements also include vitamin C, which is not only a powerful antioxidant, but also serves as a necessary co-factor required for proper formation of stable collagen.*
Two of the most common sources of collagen used to make peptide supplements are fish and livestock. While both are natural sources of type I collagen, marine collagen is a great choice for pescatarians, or anyone who would rather avoid consuming bovine- or porcine-derived products for religious reasons or because of dietary preferences. Eco-friendly Nordic Naturals Marine Collagen helps minimize waste since it’s made from the skins of sustainable Arctic cod, fish caught for human consumption. Utilizing the skins helps make better use of the entire animal, from tip to tail.
Everyone wishes for the youthful glow of healthy, beautiful skin. Unfortunately, time and exposure inevitably take their toll. While there’s no fabled Fountain of Youth, supplementing with marine collagen is one thing we can do to help our skin stay healthy and strong.* I think we can all raise a glass to that.
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
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