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Collagen is the foundation of the human body and is needed in abundance. There is promise for the benefits it can provide to us. So, in these coming winter months drink your bone broth and eat some fish. It will serve you well to ensure dietary sources of collagen in your diet.

What is collagen?

Collagen is a fibrillar protein that forms the connective tissues in the human body including the skin, joints, connective tissues and bones. The word collagen comes from the Greek word "kolla" which means glue. Think of it was the glue that holds your body together. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body. Collagen plays a key role in joint health, maintaining skin elasticity and maintaining the microscopic villi of the intestines for gut health. As we get older our body produces less collagen and with the passage of time the thickness and strength decrease.

There are over 28 types of collagen. Type I collagen makes up 90% of our hair, skin, nails, organs, bones, ligaments and is most notable for anti-aging properties. Type II collagen helps build cartilage, joint health, maintain our gut lining therefore supporting digestive health and support immune function. All types of collagen are most efficiently supported with vitamin-C rich foods or hyaluronic acid supplements. Tomatoes, red bell peppers, strawberries and citrus fruits are an abundant source of vitamin C. Be sure your diet includes high vitamin C sources to get the best benefit from collagen.

What are food sources of collagen?

The best sources for collagen include fish, egg whites, beef, gelatin, chicken and beef/chicken/fish bone broth. Marine or fish collagen is known to have the most efficient absorption of all collagen types. Eating salmon with the skin is an excellent way to include more collagen in your eating plan.

Bone broth is a liquid containing brewed bones/connective tissues cooked 10 or more hours and is one of the most popular sources of collagen. Bone broth has a rich history of being used as a digestive tonic, is rich in specific amino acids and collagen to support healing of the gut lining. It also contains nutrients such as amino acids, glucosamine, calcium and magnesium and that support joint mobility and reduced inflammation. To make bone broth, save animal carcasses in the freezer and use as a base for stews or to add to other recipes for flavor and nutrients. Using bones from animals that were raised without steroids, antibiotics or growth stimulants ensures the best safety.

What about collagen supplements and safety?

Collagen can be purchased in supplement form. However, as with any supplement, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not evaluate any claims that a company makes on how well their collagen product works. If a supplement has been reported to be causing serious adverse events or reactions, the FDA has the authority to pull it from the market. However, no safety testing or FDA approval is required before a company can market their supplement. The best advice is to obtain collagen from whole foods, as nutrients are the most synergistic and powerful in the form they come from nature.

Several double-blind, placebo-controlled studies published from 2000 to 2017 show evidence of the power of collagen from helping to fight infection through inhibiting killer T-cell attack, increasing skin elasticity, repairing gut lining and reducing cellulite in normal and overweight women. However, many of the studies done so far on collagen are small and at least partially funded by industry.

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