Collagen is a protein that’s responsible for healthy joints and skin elasticity, or stretchiness. It’s in your bones, muscles, and blood, and makes up to three quarters of your skin and a third of the protein in your body.
As you age, your existing collagen breaks down, and it gets harder for your body to produce more. As a result, many people turn to collagen supplements. These supplements are usually powders, though there are also capsules and liquid supplements available. A nutritionist at Behavioral Nutrition can help you find the best ways to get more collagen if you need help.
Here are some facts about collagen and how it affects your body:
- Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body
- It’s an essential component of skin, bone, cartilage and connective tissue
- Research about supplements is limited yet shows promising results on skin and joint health
- Supplements won’t magically cure problems
- Noticeable results can take more than 90-120 days
The nutritionists at Behavioral Nutrition suggest that before you consider a collagen supplement, you should first ask yourself the following questions:
- Why am I considering collagen?
- Is it for my skin, joints, weight goals, performance?
- Am I currently consuming a balanced, nutrient-dense diet or am I trying to take a shortcut by taking a supplement?
- Am I eating adequate amounts of quality protein?
- Note! Collagen is not a complete protein on its own. Do not rely on collagen to meet your daily protein needs.
- Am I getting enough vitamin C, zinc, and copper?
- Note! These are all crucial for your body’s natural collagen production. If you are lacking in these nutrients, start with a food first approach, meaning get these vitamins and minerals from food first.
- Does my diet include omega-3 fats from foods such as walnuts, flaxseed and fatty fish (salmon, anchovies, sardines)?
- Note! Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to have anti-inflammatory benefits, which are particularly helpful for reducing joint pain in arthritis.
Improve Diet with Nutritionist
Remember you cannot out-supplement a poor diet, it’s best to consider food first! Consult with a nutritionist at Behavioral Nutrition to come up with a diet that consists of foods that help your body produce collagen. A diet that includes bone broth, chicken, fish and shellfish, egg whites, citrus fruits, berries and garlic is a natural way to increase collagen.
If you still need a supplement to fill any dietary gaps, choose a quality, 3rd party tested supplement. For athletes, look for the NSF certified for sport logo. A registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) can help make sure you’re getting the nutrients you need for your diet before considering any supplements. For even more guidance be sure to reach out to the team at Behavioral Nutrition.