Most people know about collagen as that thing doctors inject into your lips to plump them up. So if you’ve heard about people ingesting collagen lately, you may be wondering why people do it and what the benefits are.
One serving of hydrolyzed collagen is two rounded tablespoons, which is 43 calories and includes 11 grams of protein. It dissolves in cold, warm and hot liquids. So you can add it to your coffee or smoothie before blending and you won’t even taste it. You can also mix it into a glass of water, but the collagen has a slight taste to it
But skin isn’t the only thing collagen effects; in fact, it’s a major component of lots of parts of your body, too, including the padding that keeps your joints from grinding together, your cartilage, blood vessels, tendons and even your eyes. Suffice it to say, you’re a big fan of collagen, even if you don’t know it yet.
From an aesthetic perspective, though, collagen plays a much simpler, if equally pivotal role. “Collagen basically keeps our skin looking healthy and youthful. It provides strength as well as elasticity for supple skin,” says nutritionist Brooke Alpert. The trouble is that collagen production begins to slow down as you age, which is one of the main factors in the emergence of fun little things like fine lines and wrinkles. So, naturally, the solution to having gleaming, newborn-esque skin forever and ever is just to give your body oodles and oodles of collagen, right? Well, it’s a little more complicated than that.
Considering that those who benefited most from collagen supplements in the studies were those who generally ate the least amount of meat (and were possibly, therefore, not getting enough quality protein), it’s worthwhile, whether you decide to try a supplement or not, to turn your attention to optimizing your body’s own collagen-making machinery. That means getting adequate protein overall, from meat, poultry, fish and plant proteins such as beans, nuts, seeds and grains. And you need to get enough vitamin C — found in foods such as citrus fruits, berries, bell peppers and green, leafy vegetables — which is also essential for collagen production.