Collagen is the most abundant form of protein in your body, and as a major component of skin tendons, bones, hair and nails, it’s responsible for your basic corporeal structure and strength. Collagen is composed primarily of the amino acid glycine, which performs countless functions in the body, including wound healing, joint health, immune response, digestion and sleep. Since your body only produces about 3 grams of glycine per day on its own, it’s important to get plenty through your diet.
Unfortunately, the richest sources of glycine are (ugh) gelatinous meats, connective tissues (such as tendons and ligaments) and the skin of animal proteins. If the very words “gelatinous meats” make you want to hurl, never fear — this is where supplementation comes in.
Supplemental collagen has been shown to provide a wide spectrum of benefits. Here are just a few:
Collagen is a major component of joints and connective tissues, and if you’re lacking collagen in your diet, you could experience undue pain and/or stiffness in your joints. However, multiple studies have shown that collagen can help alleviate these issues.
Case in point: A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that 40 milligrams of collagen taken daily for four months significantly reduced postworkout knee pain. And a second study showed it to be safe and effective at combating pain, improving mobility and generally increasing the quality of life in those who live with chronic pain.
On the Mend
One of the functions of glycine is wound healing, and collagen could help you recover from injury as well as daily intense training: In one study, subjects with bedsores who were given a collagen supplement healed significantly faster than those who received a placebo, and another study found that glycine supplementation repaired an Achilles tendon injury more rapidly and made the tendon more resistant to future ruptures. Why? It appears the glycine induced the synthesis of important tissue components that led to a rapid “remodeling” of the tendon.
Sleep is one of the most important factors when it comes to results, recovery, metabolism and even cognition, and research has found that supplementing with glycine can help you fall asleep more quickly, experience better-quality slumber, suffer less daytime sleepiness and improve cognitive performance. Glycine lowers your core body temperature, something that occurs naturally at the onset of sleep and that is maintained during slumber.
Collagen has been touted an anti-aging supplement with good reason: A slew of studies show that collagen supplementation can decrease wrinkles, increase skin elasticity and reduce overall signs of aging. Ingesting collagen supplements can help thicken skin, which in turn minimizes the appearance of wrinkles and helps skin maintain moisture.
Written by Mike Carlson for Oxygen Magazine