Collagen. Only useful for wrinkles? Wrong! It is best known for helping smooth skin and is commonly found in skin creams, pills, and powders. Collagen plays an important role in the body and we may not need as much as we think.
What is Collagen?
Collagen is a protein found abundantly in the body. It is in your muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, organs, blood vessels, skin, intestinal lining, and other connective tissues. There is no test to tell collagen levels, however you can tell when levels are dropping. Collagen levels naturally decrease with age. This can contribute to wrinkles, stiffer tendons and ligaments, weakening muscles, joint pain due to worn cartilage and gastrointestinal problems due to thinning of the lining in your digestive system.
How do we get it?
Age is the number one reason for lowering collagen levels. The number two reason for low levels of collagen is a poor diet. Your body can make collagen by combining amino acids from protein-rich foods such as beef, chicken, fish, beans, eggs, and some dairy products.
This production process requires vitamin C, zinc, and copper to complete. Be sure to consume citrus fruits, bell peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, shellfish, nuts, and whole grains to ensure proper intake of these minerals.
Efficient absorption of these nutrients naturally decreases with age so be sure to have an adequate intake in your daily diet. Speak with your doctor as you may need to consider supplementation.
As stated earlier, food sources such as beef, chicken, fish, beans, eggs, and some dairy products contain the necessary amino acids for producing collagen. Incorporate these foods into your diet regularly. The best collagen-boosting food is bone broth. You can make your own or buy an organic version in the grocery store. The bone broth draws the collagen out of the beef, chicken, or fish bones it is made with, leaving behind a liquid that is bursting with nutrients and flavor. Try drinking it straight or add it to other dishes for a health and flavor boost.
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Written by Sarah Brunner, RDN, CD; Elite Sports Clubs Registered Dietitian
Sarah is certified in food allergies/intolerances and nutritional counseling, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; has a certificate in Dietetics from Mount Mary University; and a BA in Education and Mathematics from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse.