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I have tried taking collagen a few times over the past few years to help with gut health. I’ve tried powder and pill form… and if you’re going to try it I highly recommend a powder over pills because a lot of the pills require you to take an obscene amount of pills. But why would you want to take collagen? Well, I’ve got Holly Martin here to explain. Holly works with The Run Experience, a platform I very much respect for their knowledge and professionalism; so I was happy to have content on my site provided by them.
Collagen is everywhere right now. Chances are if you’ve been on social media in the last few months, someone has tried to sell you a collagen supplement powder. But why?
In this article, we’ll take a deeper look at what collagen is, why our bodies need it, and how best to get it. Let’s dive in!
What Is Collagen?
Simply put, collagen is a protein found in our bodies. Collagen is one of the most abundant proteins in the human body; it makes up about 30% of the protein in our bodies.
And it’s not all the same! There are actually 16 different types of collagen in the human body.
Collagen is like the glue that holds everything together – joints, ligaments, muscles, tendons, bones, all of it.
And because collagen is a key structural protein, it is essential to support our cells, and ultimately to keep us moving.
Why Do I Need Collagen?
There are several main reasons humans need collagen in their diet somewhere. The first is gut health. Gut health plays a large role in your immune system. Beyond that, your gut is what allows you to digest, process, and absorb vitamins and minerals.
Collagen also plays messenger. Collagen protein sends important signals to our cells, telling them to do things like reduce inflammation and repair damage.
Studies have shown that Type IV Collagen can help prevent Alzheimer’s by strengthening brain tissue. In this regard, collagen acts as a shield that protects your brain.
Collagen also helps your heart. The protein can lower cholesterol and prevent plaque from building up in your arteries.
And last but certainly not least, collagen keeps you looking good! It has been shown to promote hair, skin, and nail growth. In addition, it helps your skin retain its elasticity, which helps to prevent wrinkles over time.
Bear in mind, your body’s ability to produce collagen slows down as you age. This means that it’s even more important to incorporate the protein into our diet as we get older.
Will Collagen Heal My Injury?
Collagen is more of a preventative measure than it is a solution. This is because your body lacks the ability to direct collagen to a specific source of pain.
Collagen can be compared to an elastic rope. It stretches as we need it to in our daily movements, and then it snaps back to its original structure shortly after.
By not getting enough collagen in our diet, we are putting a strain on the collagen our body is producing. Over time, this can cause the collagen “rope” to fray or even snap – those are injuries.
And because our body cannot send the collagen we ingest right to the source of injury, the protein does not exactly “heal.”
However, regular collagen consumption will help you to prevent running injuries, given all of the reasons listed above.
How Do I Work Collagen Into My Diet?
Foods such as bone broth, beef, chicken, and egg shell membrane are all great sources of collagen.
When you are eating these foods, be sure to also incorporate some form of Vitamin C to help with absorption.
Another increasingly popular way to get your collagen is a supplemental powder or capsule. For daily maintenance and intake, consume about 10-15 grams of collagen per day.
If you are in heavy-training mode, or if you are just coming back from an injury, up that to 30 grams per day, split into two doses.
And remember: collagen is only one type of protein, and it should not be your main source of protein. Collagen is not the type of protein that is going to build and repair muscle, so do not rely on it for that purpose.
So there you have it! Collagen is an abundant, vital protein in our bodies, but our bodies’ ability to produce collagen slows as we age. Because of that, be sure you are incorporating it into your diet either through food or supplements. Your cells, joints, and shiny hair will thank you!
About the Author
Holly Martin is a San Francisco-based running coach and personal trainer. With a 20+ year background in dance, Holly brings a strong focus on technique and mobility to all of her coachings. Currently, she coaches online with The Run Experience, an online training community that specializes in providing running plans for beginners, marathon training, half marathon running plans, workouts and more. She trains clients at Midline Training and Nfinite Strength. Check out her blog for more advanced tips for running.