We all know collagen is the glue that holds good skin and healthy bones, muscles and tendons together. What we're also learning, thanks to countless doctors, scientists and anti-ageing experts, is that natural loss of collagen is the one thing that makes your face (and body) head south after you hit the big 3-0. Winner. Of course, there are myriad things you can do to stop the clock - some natural, some not so much - but it's becoming a trend among the health and beauty community to ingest collagen as a means of boosting the natural levels found in your body.
Why is it so important?
Collagen is a protein found naturally in the body. It's present in your muscles, bones, skin and tendons, because it helps hold the body together and gives it structure. Not only that, it gives skin strength and elasticity and helps replace dead skin cells. So you can imagine that losing it is not ideal. A breakdown in collagen causes wrinkles, loose skin, loss of elasticity, slowed metabolism and yes, even joint pain. Studies have begun to show that certain things like excess sugar consumption, smoking and sun exposure can accelerate the breakdown process, too.
So what's the big deal?
You may have noticed that the word collagen is bandied about by a lot of beauty and skincare products. However, it's not really possible replace collagen from the outside in, so your best bet for boosting collagen levels within the body is by consuming it - either via 2015's favourite food trend (bone broths) or through an ingestible supplement.
What do these supplements even do?
In recent Vogue.com article, Dr. Karyn Grossman, M.D. says ingestible collagen supplements are generally made from hydrolyzed protein from animal sources such as cows, pigs and fish. "When you eat meat, fish, and poultry, you're also ingesting collagen," she says. "These proteins are broken down and absorbed in the GI tract, then used to build your own protein-rich parts: skin, bones, muscle, connective tissue."
While the jury's out on how beneficial it is to ingest collagen into our bodies (there's a lack of studies to prove whether eating it actually directly improves skin), we do know that's it's not going to harm us. In addition to his, collagen supplements help to round out an unbalanced diet. Because collagen is a protein containing amino acids (which give you more energy), a little extra collagen in your diet is surely not a bad thing? Off to the health food store we go...