Woman flips dark, curly hair, illustrating collagen's role in healthy hair.

I think it is pretty safe to say that many understand that collagen plays a pretty important role in making our skin supple, nails strong and hair shiny. Did you also realize that collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, found in muscles, bones, blood vessels, digestive system and tendons? Not only does it give our hair, skin and nails strength and elasticity, it is also key in replacing dead skin cells. It is the “glue” that holds our joints and tendons together. 

The human body is pretty amazing and is able to manufacture this complex protein from the amino acids we consume in our diets. Unfortunately, as we age collagen, production declines. Added to this is the fact that poor diet and lifestyle choices further depress the body’s ability to make collagen. The Standard American Diet (SAD – the perfect acronym, actually!), full of highly processed and refined “foods” also contains high amounts of sugar, preservatives and fillers which further impede collagen production.  Not only is production hindered, the SAD (along with alcohol consumption, smoking and excessive sun exposure) actually depletes the body’s collagen levels. 

This complex protein (containing 19 different amino acids!) is comprised of both “essential” and “non-essential” (also called “conditional”) amino acids. When these amino acids come together, a triple helix is formed. This is what gives this protein it’s incredible strength. 

Collagen Structure

Illustration of the triple helix structure of a collagen strand

 Let’s talk for a minute about what “essential” and “non-essential” mean for us. Essential amino acids are those that we must get from dietary sources. They are required for various processes in our body. But don’t be confused – the “non-essential” amino acids are also required for important functions. The difference is that our bodies are able to make them, under normal circumstances.

However, when your diet does not contain the ingredients needed to manufacture these conditional amino acids, we quickly fall into a deficit. In addition to poor nutrition, inflammation, stress and lack of sleep can also affect how well your body is able to produce them.

Neon "Bad Habits" sign relating to depletion of collagen

Benefits of Collagen 

Of the 19 amino acids in a single molecule of collagen, here are the most abundant and the benefits they provide our bodies:

1. Proline – Ensures your body’s functions run smoothly. In particular, it supports cardiovascular health by protecting your blood vessels. It is also able to improve joint health

2. Glycine – Size-wise, this amino acid is the smallest, but has the biggest impact on the integrity of some pretty important functions! It ensures healthy DNA strands are build, affecting every single cell and function in our bodies. It is also a constituent of creatine, promoting healthy muscle growth and boosting energy production when you need it.

3. Glutamine – The most abundant amino acid found in the human body, it is one of the conditional amino acids that are produced in our muscle tissue. Glutamine is not just beneficial for muscles, bones, joints and skin. Research has shown that helps prevent anxiety, tension, and insomnia. Additionally, it supports concentration, digestive health, immune function and is essential for energy.

4. Arginine (often called L-arginine) – This amino acid is broken down into nitric oxide, which is crucial for cardiovascular health. Having enough arginine will also support circulation and immune function.

Close up of woman's hands holding collagen rich drink

Gut Health

Yep. I said it. Collagen is required for gut health.

Without enough collagen, the lining of our intestines become weak. This could lead to leaky gut syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis. Not only does collagen “heal and seal” the lining of the digestive tract, it also helps break down the protein we eat, helps with water absorption and elimination of toxic waste.

Because collagen supports circulation and immune function it also improves liver function and protects cardiovascular health

Food sources that are highest in collagen traditionally come from animal sources – organ meats being the densest. Here in America, those are the cuts of meat we “love to hate”. 

For those of us who turn our noses up at a plate of liver and onions or eat a plant-based diet we can confidently supplement with hydrolyzed collagen peptides. These are comprised of the exact amino acids and other nutrients found in collagen. The difference is that the very large strands of collagen are broken down into smaller amino acid strands. This makes it much easier for our bodies to digest and absorb the nutrients. 

I recommend giving Sunwarrior Collagen Building Protein Peptides a try. Not only are the Vegan, they are also Keto-Friendly and contain Hyaluronic Acid, Biotin and Vitamin C for maximum absorption. Be sure to use the Promo Code to save 10% off your total order!

Sunwarrior brand collagen with Promo Code "EFN10" to save 10%





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