Collagen is known as a skincare ingredient! But it has 5 other health benefits too
Collagen has become a buzzword in the beauty world in the past few years. But what is collagen? What does collagen do exactly? And should you include it in your daily diet? To answer your queries and explain the benefits of collagen, we got in touch with an expert.
What is collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein present in your body and is a crucial component of your connective tissues that can be defined as a protein tissue. These protein tissues provide structural and functional support.
What does collagen do exactly?
Collagen is a naturally-occurring protein in the body. It not only supports your skin’s strength, and elasticity and helps in rebuilding the structure of the skin but is important for your blood vessels, bones, muscles, ligaments, skin, gut, and joints. Unfortunately, the collagen present in the body breaks down with age. That means as you age, your body fails to produce more protein and declines slowly. This process is made visible by wrinkles, fine lines, hair loss, saggy skin, and joint pain. Apart from age, certain habits such as smoking, drinking, and sun exposure also weakens the collagen natural production.
HealthShots spoke to Dietitian Hari Lakshmi, Consultant – Dietitian/Nutritionist, Motherhood Hospitals, Chennai, to find its health benefits.
Health benefits of collagen
“As the body fails to produce more protein, many people take supplements in the form of powder, liquid, or capsules for healthy joints and beautiful skin. In fact, healthcare professionals use collagen and collagen-based materials for treating wounds, and burns. Furthermore, collagen is also present in cosmetic products like moisturizers and serums because of its moisturizing properties. Although the popularity of collagen supplements is increasing, many people are still unaware of its various health benefits,” says Lakshmi.
Health benefits of collagen supplements include:
1. Stronger bones
With age, our bones become weaker and less dense. They easily break and take longer to heal. Collagen supplements help make our bones stronger and denser by slowing ageing. It also prevents bone loss and limits osteoporosis.
2. Tight and glowing skin
A good collagen production helps prevent premature aging by keeping fine lines and wrinkles at bay. Lakshmi says, collagen supplements hydrate the skin and improve elasticity for older people, and can prevent acne and other skin conditions.
3. Long thick hair
The majority of men and women suffer from hair loss or thinning of hair as they grow older. People who take collagen supplements experience a significant improvement in their hair fall problem.
4. Healthy and strong nails
Collagen is an excellent supplement for strengthening hair, nails, and teeth. People who have weak nails should consume collagen supplements for faster nail growth and to keep teeth in shape.
5. Gain muscle mass
Muscle mass is usually lost with age. Collagen supplements have been known to help increase muscle mass and strength with proper exercise.
Natural sources of collagen
You can increase your intake of collagen supplements by making specific dietary changes. Some natural sources of collagen include egg whites, chicken, and fish skin. Citrus fruits, berries, tomatoes, and avocados are also good. Adding leafy greens, garlic, red and yellow vegetables, bell peppers, beans, and herbs such as ashwagandha to your diet can be beneficial as well.
Word of cautions
“While there are numerous health benefits, you should not self-medicate and take collagen supplements on your own, as you could be susceptible to side effects. Therefore, it is recommended to consult a doctor before increasing your consumption of collagen, especially if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding or have any other health condition,” says Lakshmi.