By MISSY CORRIGAN
There has been a lot of discussion on the topic of collagen and its potential for being the “fountain of youth.”
Since the 1980s, collagen has been used in the cosmetic industry with the hopes of reducing wrinkles or plumping up tired, aged skin. Only recently have companies been coming up with other ways to get collagen in the body.
The human body naturally produces collagen, a protein that binds tissues. After about the age of 25, we begin to break down more collagen as we get older, which presents itself as fine lines and wrinkles on the skin. Experts say that natural collagen makes up about 75 percent of the dry weight of your skin, providing volume to the skin, which keeps lines diminished.
Collagen’s anti-aging benefits have been promoted to help decrease joint pain and improve overall bone and joint health. Natural collagen is rich in amino acids, which help maintain and repair tendons, bones and joints. The body naturally produces collagen every day, but as we get older, it breaks down faster than our body can replace it.
You can reap the benefits of adding more collagen to your diet by consuming foods like bone broth and organ meats. Since these might not be appealing to consumers, health companies are jumping at the opportunity to develop collagen supplements that may be much more convenient or appealing to consumers. In fact, consumers are expected to spend more than $100 million on collagen supplements this year.
However, there continues to be conflicting advice and information when it comes to collagen supplements. The research and science is still relatively new, and it isn’t exactly clear on the benefits and potential risks, especially long term. Additionally, there isn’t enough quality control, so you may be exposed to contaminants and heavy metals.
If you do choose supplements, be sure to avoid mixtures that combine collagen with probiotics, fiber or other additives which could interact with collagen and change the effectiveness of it.
Missy Corrigan is executive of community health for Sumter Family YMCA. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (803) 773-1404.