You’ve probably seen collagen supplements on store shelves or advertised on social media. Collagen is a type of protein found in your muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, organs, blood vessels, skin, intestinal lining, and other connective tissues. In fact, collagen is the body’s most abundant protein and accounts for over 30 percent of total protein in your body!
So, why would anyone need to take a collagen supplement? Collagen production starts to slow down in your mid-to-late 20s and can become further depleted due to high sugar consumption, stress, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, smoking, alcohol, lack of sleep, too much sun, and genetics.
While there is no test you can take to check your collagen levels, there are telltale symptoms that point to a collagen deficiency. Here are the top signs that you’re experiencing a collagen deficiency and might want to consider taking a collagen supplement.
1. Brittle hair and nails
Has your hair lost its luster? You could be dealing with low collagen. Collagen contains the amino acid, proline, one of the main components of keratin, which is needed for healthy hair and strong nails. As a result, a lack of collagen can cause thin, flat hair and brittle, cracking nails.
2. Aching joints
Have you been noticing knee pain lately? Cartilage, the “cushioning” that allows your joints to move quickly and smoothly, is abundant in collagen. As collagen is depleted, the lack of cushioning from cartilage results in bone-on-bone movement, which can cause joint pain.
3. Decreased skin integrity
There’s a reason collagen is in so many skincare products. This protein is what maintains your skin’s thickness, elasticity, and hydration. As collagen production decreases, your skin begins to lose some of its structure, leading to wrinkles, hallowing around the eyes, cellulite, dryness, and an overall lack of vitality.
4. Blood pressure and circulatory problems
Collagen is a significant component of the heart and blood vessel walls. When someone has low levels of collagen, their blood vessels are less able to regulate blood flow. This can produce symptoms such as low blood pressure, dizziness, fatigue, and frequent headaches.
5. Gastrointestinal issues
Collagen can be found nearly everywhere in your body, including your gut’s lining. Studies show that diminished collagen in the gut may lead to intestinal permeability or “leaky gut syndrome.” Symptoms of this condition can include constipation, diarrhea, brain fog, fatigue, nutrient deficiencies, and a weakened immune system.
While decreased collagen production is often associated with age, it can also be caused by anything that causes damage to cells and drives up inflammation, such as drinking too much alcohol, experiencing too much stress, or eating an unhealthy diet. Sounds like your average day in college, right?
The good news is, you can increase collagen in your body through supplementation, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and eating certain foods. It can be as easy as drinking one cup of bone broth or taking a quality collagen supplement daily. When your body has ample stores of collagen, you’re much more likely to have firmer, more glowing skin, smoother-moving joints, and other signs, of a healthy, youthful body.
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