HEALTHY LIVING

What Is Collagen and Why Is It Important to Your Health?

What Is Collagen and Why Is It Important to Your Health?

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Collagen is being studied for its beneficial effects on skin, joints and bones.

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SEP. 09, 2022    3 MIN. READ  
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Collagen is one of the most popular items to hit the nutrition aisle, but what exactly is it? And how important is it for your health? Collagen is a protein in the body that provides structure to the connective tissue. Over time and with aging, collagen production decreases causing less elasticity in the skin. Researchers are studying collagen for its potential to reduce wrinkles, mitigate joint pain and reduce bone deterioration.

What Is Collagen?

Collagen is a protein that forms the structural component of connective tissues such as tendons, ligaments, bones and joints. It contains 19 amino acids, including eight essential amino acids: isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine and valine. Because the body can't make these amino acids, we must rely on protein sources – like poultry, eggs, dairy, soy, quinoa and buckwheat – which are considered “complete” proteins as they contain all nine essential amino acids.

Why Is Collagen Important?

Collagen is most well-known for its benefits to skin health. A 2022 research review concluded that oral collagen supplements can help reduce or delay skin aging by improving hydration and elasticity as well as minimizing wrinkles.

A systematic review in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found collagen supplements reduced pain and increased function in patients with hand, hip or knee osteoarthritis within three months. Further research needs to be explored to determine the long-term effects of collagen.

Researchers are also studying collagen for its potential to reverse bone deterioration. Some research suggests collagen-based medication may help reinforce brittle bones, but more research needs to be conducted.

How to Increase Your Collagen Intake

Collagen is available in supplement form but it’s also abundant in animal foods, especially those with connective tissue, such as pot roast, brisket and chuck steak. Keep in mind that red meat also contains saturated fat and eating foods high in saturated fat may raise cholesterol levels. Two other options for collagen intake are bone broth and gelatin, both of which are made from the bones of animals.

You can also consume foods with nutrients that stimulate collagen production. Protein-rich foods including fish, chicken, eggs, dairy, and legumes contain the amino acids that your body uses to make collagen. Zinc and vitamin C, which can be found in shellfish, whole grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables, are also both necessary for collagen production. A well-balanced diet may help to provide the components needed to make collagen.

The Benefits of Immune-Supporting Nutrition

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Your immune system works around the clock to keep you healthy and to support recovery when illnesses strike, but it can't succeed on its own. The immune system requires key nutrients to build protective antibodies, proteins and enzymes to keep your immune system functioning. 

According to nutritional immunologists, the best way to get these key nutrients is from immune-supporting foods as part of a balanced diet. But what nutrients does your immune system need most? And how do they help you stay healthy? First things first, let's dive into the science of nutrition and its role in the immune system.  

Energy-Boosting Foods and Energy-Sustaining Foods

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When struggling to stay alert, a cup of coffee, energy drink or candy bar may seem like quick-fix, energy-boosting foods, but there's a little more to it.

Let's start with what energy actually means. Energy refers to both a sense of energetic alertness and the physical energy stored in calories.

NUTRITION IS THE FOUNDATION FOR LIVING YOUR BEST LIFE. THAT’S WHY WE WORK HARD TO ADVANCE AND SHARE THE LATEST SCIENCE AND CREATE BETTER WAYS TO NOURISH YOUR BODY AT EVERY STAGE OF LIFE.

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