There’s a lot of buzz at the moment about collagen supplements, with people enthusing about everything from more comfortable joints to stronger skin, hair and nails. But before considering this (or any other dietary supplement) we should take a good look at the facts.
What is collagen?
It is the most common protein in the body, with a fiber-like structure. Resistant and flexible, it is used to make connective tissue, which is a major component of both our skeletons and muscular systems. Collagen also provides our skin with elasticity, preventing sagging and wrinkles.
Why supplement our natural supply?
As long as we eat a nutritionally balanced diet - including for example enough zinc and vitamin C - we should be able to produce our own natural collagen. Meat and fish are especially good sources of the proteins needed to make it, but vegetarian and vegan foods can provide them too.
However, as we get older, our bodies gradually make less collagen. And according to the American Academy of Dermatology, women lose 30 per cent of their skin’s collagen in the five years following menopause. Excess sun exposure, environmental pollution, smoking, excess alcohol, and lack of sleep and exercise also all impact collagen production.
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Who may be advised to take collagen?
Those suffering from diseases affecting the joints such as osteoarthritis, where it has been shown to improve function and decrease pain.
Professional athletes or others who do a lot of strenuous exercise, causing wear and tear of the tendons and cartilages (the connective tissue between muscles and bones). Collagen can help recovery and prevent future health problems.
Collagen has few contraindications; but it is always best to consult a health specialist before taking any supplement, especially if you are taking medication or are diabetic.
Don’t take collagen for a long period; rest every 2-3 months for a minimum of one month. Do not exceed the recommended dose of 10 grams per day. Do not consume in case of: phenylketonuria, hyperuricemia, renal or hepatic insufficiency.
Disclaimer: This information is for general knowledge only and should not be used in place of professional medical advice. Always consult with your doctor or a qualified healthcare provider for advice on any medical concerns.