Collagen, often called the 'fountain of youth', has exploded on the health scene as a way to help preserve our health and beauty as we age.

If you want to add this powerful protein to your daily routine, what do you need to look for when buying a collagen supplement?

You start out life chock full of collagen in our bodies. You know...that smooth, clear, tight skin, full and shiny head of hair, strong nails, no pain in our joints, strong muscles and able to eat anything.

Starting in our 30s, your body doesn't make as much new collagen. As you may have witnessed when the years fly by, there are more wrinkles and saggy skin, you can see more hair in the drain, your joints are stiffer, muscles get smaller and you can't eat some foods without stomach upset.

Moreover, during and after menopause, the amount of collagen our bodies produces significantly decreases.

Admittedly, you can't go back to your 20's. However, you can become more aware of how collagen can help maintain your beauty and vitality as the years pass by.

What is Collagen Made Of?

Quite simply, collagen is a type of protein. Not just any protein, it's the most abundant protein in women and men's bodies and actually, in the animal kingdom.

We can't live without protein as it provides our body with energy (4 cal/gram of protein), helps repair and builds new cells and tissue, is in body fluid and is crucial for many body processes like production of hormones.

In addition, proteins make up our skin, hair, nails, muscle, bones, cartilage, connective tissue and internal organs.

Collagen is described as a triple helix protein. It's long, thin and made from three 'coiled subunits'(1).

Collagen protein chains are called fibrils. Fibrils are like thread in our shirt--they hold things together and provide support. Fibrils are extremely strong and flexible.

These fibrils are made from amino acids that are synthesized by vitamin C, copper and zinc.

What are The Types of Collagen?

There are at least 16 types of collagen in the human body.

These 5 main types of collagen are the most important for the human body. They are known as Types,: Type I, Type II, Type III, Type IV and Type V collagen.

Let’s talk about the five main types of collagen and where they are concentrated in our body:

Type I Collagen

Type I collagen is by far the most abundant collagen, over 90%, found in the human body. This makes it one of, if not the most important, type. (Type I is not the primary collagen in cartilage.)

Type I collagen is what helps form everything from skin, tendons, to blood vessel walls, and connective tissues. It is the main component in bones and what rushes in to heal an injury.

Type I collagen is also the strongest or most potent form of collagen. If you are looking to strengthen your hair, increase nail growth, or make your skin look younger, as well as help your skin heal from wounds, Type 1 collagen is what you want to go for.

Type II Collagen

Type II collagen is the major form of collagen found in cartilage. Cartilage is the connective tissue that protects the ends of bones at your joints, and is, therefore, very important for your mobility and joint health.

Cartilage is also a structural component found in our ears, nose, the rib cage. Additionally, Type II of collagen is found in the developing cornea and tissue behind the eyeball.

Type II collagen is therefore considered to be the best one out there for improving bone and joint health, as well as treating symptoms of arthritis.

One of the best sources of Type II collagen is chicken bone broth, which is very rich in this type of collagen.

Type III Collagen

Type III collagen is somewhat similar to Type I Collagen, at least in the sense that both are often found in the same sources and work towards many of the same benefits.

Type III collagen is fibrillar collagen, which means that it is a component of skin and organs--in other words, fibers. Type III collagen is known for maintaining the structural integrity of the heart, as well as the skin.

Bovine or cow bone collagen, often in the form of gelatin (result from boiled animal parts), is a great source of both Type III and I collagen.

Type IV and V Collagen

Type IV collagen serves as the mechanical support that divides tissues into compartments and also affects cells behavior. This type of collagen is contained in what is called basement membrane.

In addition, not enough Type IV collagen has been associated with strokes.

Type V collagen is required to create the cells of a pregnant women’s placenta, which is the organ that attaches to the lining of the womb and provides the baby with vital elements of survival, including oxygen and nutrients.

Finally, Type V collagen also helps to form cell surfaces and hair.

Can I Create Collagen Naturally?

Collagen protein in its original form is not readily available by the body. Through a process called hydrolysis, the protein is broken down into smaller particles called peptides. Hence the term hydrolyzed collagen.

As an aside, marine collagen from fish bones and skin/scales naturally comes in smaller peptides.

The other way we can create collagen is to eat foods that are high in amino acids that collagen is made of.

Also, vitamin C, zinc and copper are required by the body to synthesize the amino acids into collagen. These vitamins and minerals can be found in many natural foods.

Finally, if you avoid activities considered to be collagen killers, that will go a long way to preserve the collagen you already have.

Use Food to Help Create Collagen

You can get the necessary amino acids to create collagen from foods like beef, chicken, fish, beans, eggs and dairy.

If you're vegan, look towards soy, spirulina and wheat germ.

Both meat eaters and vegans can also consume seeds, winged beans and almonds. Further, green leafy vegetables like spinach, broccoli kale and green beans contain high amounts of vitamins C, D and A. In addition, red and green peppers and tomatoes.

Dr. Bradley, MD, Medical Director of Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine points out: “As you age, however, your body may no longer absorb nutrients as well or synthesize them as efficiently. To make sure your body has enough ingredients to make collagen, you may need to change what you eat or take dietary supplements.”

Avoid Collagen-Killing Activities

How can we protect the collagen we do have, especially since we know our body naturally produces less and less of it as we age?

There are four things we can do right now to hold into the collagen we do have:

Avoid Long Sun Exposure: Although the sun is an excellent source of vitamin D, too much sun can damage the collagen in our skin. Limit exposure to 15-20 minutes, and avoid hours of sun exposure.

High Consumption of Sugar: It is common knowledge that too much sugar leads to multiple health and weight challenges. Too much sugar attaches to proteins and changes the protein to be a molecule that is sharp. This sharp molecule can damage other protein molecules, including collagen.

Smoking: Smoking is just an unhealthy activity all around, including our skin. The chemicals in cigarettes damage collagen and elastin in our bodies.

Diet: As we outlined, a diet rich in collagen-producing meat, fish, fruits and vegetables will go a long way to support the collagen we currently have.

How To Choose a Collagen Supplement

Choosing which type of collagen might be appropriate for you is a mix of the form you prefer and basic quality features.

There are three main ways to take collagen supplements. ​

1. Pill Form: Collagen supplements can come in capsule forms and softgel form. Both are normally taste-free. If you don't like taking pills though, this may not be the right option for you. Additionally, it's more difficult to start with a lower dosage and work your way up, as most experts advise when starting any new supplement.

2. Liquid Form: There are benefits when you're able to take collagen in liquid form. First, liquids are absorbed easily and, in general, get into your system faster. Second, you can add it to other liquids and take it on the go. Then there's bone broth, a healthy and satisfying way to curb hunger pangs. It comes in many different flavors and products.

3. Powder Form: Powder has the most flexibility. The dosage can be easily adjusted and added to other liquids, like smoothies or coffee. Also, it can be added to make food. It's super portable and the protein can help lessen hunger pangs. The downside you ask? Although most people don't notice any taste, some do.

Read the Label!

With any supplement you put into your body, it should be of high quality. You will want to consider any extra ingredients included in your collagen supplement.

The best way to determine the quality of a supplement is to read the label. Here are the factors you want to look for:

Sugar/Carbs: If you're lifestyle includes low carb foods, then you'll definitely want to pay attention to this. Some brands also add in artificial sweeteners.

Sourcing: 'Grass-fed', 'pasture raised' and 'wild caught' are the descriptions you want to see.

Color: If you choose powder, it should be clear and odorless when mixed with water.

How You Feel: Since we already have collagen in our bodies, the recommended dosage may be too much. Adjust accordingly to avoid gut problems.

Bone Broth: Don't forget about this option to boost your collagen levels. Look for the same requirements for a supplement.

Best Place to Buy Collagen

Collagen supplements can be bought online, at a health food store and often at your local grocery market.

Quality and purity are the most important factors to consider. Price is also of interest to most people. In addition, convenience may also be an important factor (how can you beat your order delivered to you!)

FINAL COMMENTS

To summarize, if you like to hold off the effects of aging on your beauty and vitality, adding more collagen through a supplement and superfoods is a good strategy to use.

When you understand what collagen is, how its made and the types of collage available, you are able to make a better decision on which product is the right one.

Two ways to help produce and/or preserve collagen are to eat superfoods and avoid collagen-killing activities. Since modern diets make it difficult to eat enough superfoods, we suggest adding a high-quality collagen supplement and/or bone broth to your daily routine.

Finally, make sure you check the labels when you choose a supplement or bone broth. You definitely want to look for any additional sugars (natural or artificial), check the carb count and confirm the quality of ingredients.

Author's Bio: 

This article originally appeared here: https://womanandwellness.com/what-you-must-know-to-look-for-when-buying-...

Hi, I'm Denise a mid-50's woman who is passionate about staying physically and emotionally healthy.

Always on the cutting edge of health and wellness for women over 50, my goal is to bring the best collagen supplement reviews and advice directly to my visitor’s screen.

Please visit https://www.womanandwellness.com to learn how collagen can be your ‘fountain of youth’.