One quarter of your body is collagen

by | Jun 7, 2023 | Aging gracefully, Bone Health, Functional Medicine, Joint Health, Nutrition & Diet | 0 comments

Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body. It comprises about one quarter of your total dry weight. Collagen provides the internal structure of skin, muscle, tendons and ligaments, your bones, the digestive tract, and other internal organs. And it isn’t just sitting there passively; it plays an active role in the metabolism of these organs, too.

You need robust collagen production

  • for your joints to stay supple
  • for your skin to stay elastic without sagging
  • to build bone strength
  • to allow for proper digestion
  • to heal from injuries
  • to keep your teeth rooted in your gums
  • and much more.

Sadly, your collagen production falls off by about one percent each year after age 30. That’s just one more challenge the aging body faces as you try to maintain vitality.

Feeding your collagen

What nutritional strategies will boost collagen production?

Collagen is a protein, so it’s important to have a diet with adequate protein intake.

But is a diet generally adequate in protein sufficient? Or does it pay to consume a supplement made from collagen? Expert opinion differs.

One side of the argument is that, no matter what type of protein you eat, it gets broken down into individual amino acids before you absorb it. Your small intestine doesn’t know whether the amino acids it’s absorbing originally came from collagen or not.

On the other hand, some experts point out that, if you consume extra collagen, you’re getting a mix of amino acids that, conveniently, is in the exact proportion needed to produce…….collagen. Plus, it contains vitamins, minerals, and other cofactors that might enhance collagen production after those amino acids are absorbed.

Research backs this up. In this article, those taking a collagen supplement improved their bone density. And here’s a study showing that muscle mass improved by taking a collagen supplement.

You need more than just protein

Along with the right proportion of amino acids, building collagen molecules in your body requires a mix of vitamins, minerals, and other phytonutrients. Vitamin C is one of the most thoroughly studied of these cofactors, but there are many. So eat plenty of vegetables, dark colored berries, and fermented foods in addition to your protein.

When you should consider a collagen supplement

  • If you’re healing from an injury
  • If your connective tissues are loose and saggy
  • If you’ve ever been a smoker
  • If you’re concerned about bone density
  • If your joints are creaky
  • If you’ve lost muscle mass
  • Or just for general support for healthy aging

Call me (212-400-9663) or email me (drlavine@askdrlavine.com) for a specific product suggestion. Or check out my online dispensary at Fullscript and search for a collagen supplement there.

Dr. Lavine has been an innovator in the use of movement and touch to promote health since 1981. He practices in New York City and Princeton, NJ.

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