Move over whey—there’s a new protein powder in the spotlight, and according to trend predictions, it’s what’s hot in 2017. Collagen has long been known as the “it” ingredient for anti-aging topical creams and serums, but it’s now making headlines as the new thing to add to your food and beverages. Ingestible collagen first hit the public consumer market in beverage form as the popular Paleo bone broth. Now, it’s flying solo in powder form as hydrolyzed collagen (or collagen peptides), and appearing on ingredient labels all over the food and nutritional supplement industry.
What about this fibrous protein makes it the miracle ingredient everyone’s talking about? Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, making up about 30% of all proteins. It’s most commonly found in the skin, bones, and connective tissues, which is why supplementing collagen yields benefits in all of these areas. Foodies who’ve already caught on to the collagen trend are adding hydrolyzed collagen/collagen peptides and gelatin powders, also known as cooked collagen, to everything from smoothies to soups, sauces, sweets, and even spaghetti—the possibilities are endless. Before jumping on the collagen bandwagon, you may be wondering—are collagen powder supplements safe? According to Megan Solloway, R.D., C.P.T., there are no major safety concerns with incorporating a collagen powder supplement into your daily routine.
Curious as to the unique benefits of collagen powder supplements, and how you can incorporate them into your diet? Check out the five ways collagen is good for your body on the following slides.
Is your skin aging faster than you are? Collagen makes up about 75% of our skin, and is responsible for its young, plump and smooth appearance. Over time, the natural loss of collagen that occurs with aging and sun exposure is largely responsible for wrinkles and fine lines. Taking a collagen supplement helps beautify the skin from within by supplying the body with the building blocks it needs to stimulate skin metabolism and counteract loss of collagen from the inside.
The research is promising when it comes to daily supplementation of collagen and its effects on skin health. Supplementation with anywhere from 2.5 to 10 grams of hydrolyzed collagen per day for at least eight weeks has been shown to produce noticeable reductions in skin dryness, wrinkles and cellulite, as well as significant increases in skin firmness, hydration, and moisture. Additionally, collagen supplementation can help improve growth and health of fingernails, and decrease cracking and chipping.
Feeling weak in the knees? Collagen makes up about 90% of organic bone mass and is also a major component of joint cartilage. Supplementing with hydrolyzed collagen can provide beneficial effects on bone metabolism by triggering bone formation, thus increasing bone mineral density. Supplementation may also exert an anabolic effect on cartilage tissue, maintaining the structure of the joint and potentially aiding joint comfort.
Research has shown that supplementation with 10 grams of hydrolyzed collagen per day appears effective in and increasing bone mineral density, which makes for less brittle bones, and improving joint pain and mobility. In addition, this same dose proved beneficial in athletes with activity-related joint pain, supporting the use of collagen supplementation to reduce parameters, like joint pain, that have a negative impact on athletic performance.
Need a little something to give you that competitive edge on the field (or in the gym)? Collagen protein is unique in that it has a high percentage of the amino acid glycine, accounting for about one-third of the amino acids in the collagen molecule. It also contains the amino acid arginine in a smaller, yet still significant amount. Glycine and arginine are necessary for the synthesis of creatine, which provides energy for muscle contractions and helps to build muscle strength, size, and power.
Collagen protein supplements can support the synthesis of creatine in the body to help improve athletic performance and increase lean body mass. Keep in mind that collagen isn’t a complete protein because it doesn’t have all of the essential amino acids. “Hydrolyzed collagen powder isn’t ideal for enhancing muscle growth on its own relative to other protein powders. To enhance muscle growth directly, consider a whey and collagen blend to provide a complete range of amino acids to your muscles and enhance joint recovery,” recommends Solloway.
Searching for digestive relief? Gelatin, the cooked form of collagen, can help ease digestion by enhancing gastric acid secretion, making it easier to break down foods. It also lines, protects and heals the mucosal lining of the digestive tract, which aids in digestion. The gelling power of gelatin helps keep fluid in the digestive tract, promoting smooth intestinal transit and healthy bowel movements.
Looking to make improvements to your sleep? Collagen may be the sleep tonic you need before bed. The most abundant amino acid in collagen is glycine, which accounts for about one-third of the amino acids in the collagen molecule. In addition to acting as a precursor to creatine, glycine can improve sleep quality by acting as an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain and nervous system.
A dose of 3 grams of glycine taken prior to sleeping has been shown to improve self-reported sleep quality, reduce morning fatigue, and even improve day-time cognitive function associated with better sleep. You can get over 3 grams of glycine from a serving of Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides. But don’t worry—consuming collagen during the day won’t knock you out.
BY CHARLOTTE MARTIN, RD