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What is Collagen?

Date: 11-12-2020

Written by Chantelle van der Weyden BPsych (Hons), AdvDip(Nat), AdvDip(NutMed)

What do lacklustre hair, aging skin and painful joints have in common? The answer is a lack of collagen.

Collagen is being talked about in medical journals and consumer magazines but what is it and when should you be using it?

Interestingly Collagen is the most abundant protein within the body. It provides structural and mechanical support to connective tissues such as bones, skin, joints, cartilage, tendons and ligaments. It is present within organ tissue where is provides stability and structural integrity. Collagen is also involved in a number of bodily functions including wound healing and cell growth, while also having anti-inflammatory actions.

The human body contains at least 28 different types of collagen, however, 80-90% are types I, II and III. Collagen breakdown and rebuilding is an essential process within the body. Aging, as well as environmental, dietary and lifestyle factors can impact this process of breakdown and rebuilding; and a dysregulation of this balance has been implicated in various disease processes including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.

Collagen supplements can come in various forms, including bovine (from cows), porcine (from pigs), marine (from fish) and egg shell membrane (the inner membrane that covers the shell of an egg). Collagen from eggshell membrane is the only available vegetarian source of collagen.

Collagen supplementation has been shown to be supportive in a number of situations. Some of the researched benefits of collagen include:

  • A reduction in joint pain, inflammation, and stiffness as well as support the regeneration of joint tissue in patients with osteoarthritis.
  • Reduced exercise-induced joint pain and stiffness in healthy, post-menopausal women.
  • Reduced clinical signs of aging and improved skin firmness, elasticity and hydration in healthy adults.

Collagen is a safe and well tolerated nutritional supplement that research suggests is useful in supporting joint pain, inflammation, and stiffness, while also improving skin and reducing signs of aging. If you would like to discuss the use of a vegetarian collagen please reach out to your natural health practitioner