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Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body. It is the major component of connective tissues that make up several body parts, including tendons, ligaments, skin, and muscles. Collagen has many important functions, including providing your skin with structure and strengthening your bones. The best collagen sources are the skin and bones of cattle, pigs, fish scales, and eggshells. Not all collagen supplements are created equal, and for some people one source may be excluded from their diet for religious or cultural reasons, so it is best to check the source before purchase. Nutritional therapist Lisa Borg spoke exclusively with Express.co.uk to discuss the health benefits of collagen.
Asked what the main benefits collagen has on a person’s body, Lisa answered: “Collagen is composed of 19 different amino acids, and is the most abundant protein in the body, especially type I collagen, but as we age it’s production declines, and it is used for more essential repairs such as muscle sparing and building, joint and connective tissue for which demands increase as we age.
“Collagen is also depleted by lifestyle factors such as sun exposure, eating a diet that incorporates a high level of sugar, and smoking.
“For these reasons one would consider supplementing with collagen.”
As there are so many different types of collagen on the market, when asked what the main types one should look out for, Lisa said: “There are six different types of collagen, each with their own benefits.
“Type 1 is the most beneficial for skin with Type 3 also supporting skin and organs.
“Types two, four and five and six support cartilage, joint and general mobility.
“The type needed depends on the health goal, but in the case of beauty one is seeking either type one or three.”
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When it comes to the best way to consume collagen for its health benefits, Lisa recommends: “By far the best way to top up our collagen levels is to consume foods high in collagen or to supplement with high quality collagen capsules or powders that can be added to liquid based foods like soups and stews; the powder can also be used in homemade jams, smoothies, and baked products; it can even be mixed with water or juice for a quick collagen ‘shot’.
“I advocate that bone broths play a regular visit to the table, along with high protein foods like beef, eggs, chicken, and fish.
“It is vital to take care of digestive health since this is where one absorbs proteins (the building blocks of collagen that your body needs in order to synthesise it); it is also where dietary collagen is absorbed.
“Collagen supplementation is extremely helpful in addressing digestive issues too, so it is a win-win situation.
“The other factors involved in collagen related conditions are genetic factors, poor intake of collagen-rich foods, and nutritional deficiencies of the nutrients involved in both synthesis and use of collagen.
“The main nutrients required for production and utilization are vitamin c, manganese, proline, copper and anthocyanidins (plant pigments of which blueberries, blackberries and cherries are excellent sources).”
For the best form of collagen intake, Lisa said: “The choice should really be a personal one based on health goals and lifestyle.
“For the busy person who rarely prepares their own food, capsules would be best.
“However, I would suggest that a powder form is most flexibly used which is what one desires because it can be added to many different food types or taken mixed with water or juice.
“Bone broth can also be purchased in powder form for those who do not have the many hours required for the home-made varieties.
“The takeaway message here should be to choose a form that you can easily incorporate because the benefits are dependent on regular intake of 2.5-5 grams daily.”
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