Collagen Benefits: Will This Protein Aid Exhausted Joints?
If you’re the kind of person who hits the protein shaker after every workout, you’ve probably tried your fair share of protein powders. Whey protein. Pea protein. Rice protein. Hemp protein. Egg protein. One of three macronutrients your body needs to survive, protein is made up of amino acids that are used to build cartilage, muscle, bone, skin, hair, connective tissue—the list goes on. But the only protein that’s made naturally by the body? Say hello to collagen and collagen benefits.
Collagen is a fibrous protein that provides the strength and structure to our bodies. Collagen benefits our hair, skin, bones, joints, tendons, ligaments, nails, and gut wall lining. And as we age, the amount of collagen in the body declines.
Aging and Collagen Production
“As we get older, the body becomes less efficient at producing collagen,” says Jenn Randazzo, MS, RD, CLT, the senior education manager of Vital Proteins. “Some experts have found that our production starts to decline by about 1 to 2 percent starting around the age of 25. This can contribute to different signs of aging, like fine lines and wrinkles, weaker nails, and even joint pain.” Bottom line: ingestible collagen helps supply our bodies with the building blocks they need to boost collagen production and help us look and feel our best as we age. Which is why it makes sense that more and more supplement companies are jumping on the collagen supplement bandwagon.
Easy To Add Into Anything
Not exactly vegan friendly, popular supplements are made mostly from animal parts like fish scales or cow skin. The good news? Most often, collagen supplements are flavorless, which means they can go into everything from your morning coffee to your post-sweat smoothie without affecting their taste. A serving of collagen offers upward of 16 grams of protein.
Flavorless and packs a protein wallop? Sounds ideal, except for one thing: collagen is an incomplete protein. While proteins like whey contain all nine essential amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own, collagen only contains eight. Plus, the amino acids that collagen does contain aren’t equally balanced, which means that you’re not truly getting the same bang for your buck as with other protein options.
Vary Your Protein Consumption
This is why most experts advise that yes, collagen is worth adding to your diet, but you shouldn’t make it your only protein source. This is especially true for your post-workout protein intake, when your body can benefit more from a whole protein source. Whether you’re vegetarian, vegan, or full-on carnivore, choose whole-food sources of protein like soy, fish, and meat as often as possible. Then, be smart about where collagen fits into the equation.
“When deciding how to add collagen into your diet, ask yourself one question: how can I easily get the benefits of collagen on a daily basis?” advises Randazzo. “Whether that’s by whipping up bone broth and cooking organ meats in the kitchen, boosting your morning coffee with a high-quality collagen supplement, or a mixture of both, consuming collagen can offer many benefits that help you live your most vital life.”