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Today I would like to discuss collagen and why it is important in a weight lifter’s life and supplement regime. We’ll talk about what it is, what it does, how it’s produced by the body, whether we produce enough, and whether we should take it as a supplement.
Let’s get started!
Collagen – What Is It?
Collagen is a type of protein found in the bones and connective tissue of humans. It works to provide support and structure to the skin, tendons, ligaments, muscles, and the skeletal system. It also helps our blood to clot. Of all the proteins in the body, collagen is the most plentiful, accounting for about one third of all the protein in our bodies.
The word collagen comes from the Greek word “kolla” which means glue. Collagen really does a good job of holding things together!
There are at least 16 types of collagen. Let’s look at the four main types.
Collagen – What Does It Do?
So now that we know what it is, what does collagen do?
As I mentioned, there are at least 16 types of collagen.
Type I accounts for about 90% of the collagen in our bodies and it is made of dense fibres which provide structure to skin, bones, teeth, connective tissue, and fibrous cartilage.
Type II is made of more loosely packed fibers and acts as a cushion in our joints.
Type III supports the muscles, arteries, and organs.
Type IV helps with filtration and is found in layers of your skin.
That all sounds great, and when we are young, our bodies create enough quality collagen to do all these jobs. As we age, however, our bodies produce less and less quality collagen. One of the most visible signs of this is in your skin. It becomes less firm and supple as we age. Also, our cartilage weakens with age due to the lower production of collagen.
Collagen – Do I Make Enough?
As I mentioned, when we are younger, it seems we have enough collagen to go around. Our bodies make the collagen by combining glycine and proline, two amino acids. This process also uses Vitamin C.
So as long as we have glycine, proline, and Vitamin C, we are good to go in the collagen production department. But where do we get these substances?
Glycine can be found in pork skin, chicken skin, and a variety of other foods (1).
Proline can be found in wheat germ, dairy products, egg whites, asparagus, mushrooms, and cabbage.
Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, strawberries, and bell peppers.
But we also need to add copper to the manufacturing process. Copper can be found in sesame seeds, cashews, lentils, organ meats, and cocoa powder.
As you can see, we would need to eat a variety of products to ensure that our bodies continue to produce enough quality collagen to perform all the functions it is required to perform.
If we add weight lifting to our lifestyle, then we need more collagen than our bodies can produce. Our bodies are busy using collagen for everything else, so we need to help out our bodies by giving it some extra collagen.
Studies have shown that collagen is the perfect recovery protein that helps to build and repair the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage that are stressed during exercise, including weight lifting.
It seems to me, that if our bodies are not getting enough of the ingredients needed to produce enough collagen, then we should be wise and help out with a supplement.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the things that damage collagen. Even if our bodies are producing enough, and we decide to supplement, we need to avoid these collagen destroying bahaviours:
- Sugar and refined carbs
- Too much sunshine
We need to avoid excess sun exposure and be sure to wear sunscreen. That is just a smart thing to do regardless of how it effects collagen production.
Also, sugar interferes with collagen’s ability to repair itself (there is a lot of sugar in refined carbs – that is, your body converts the refined carbs to sugar). It is best to reduce your intake of these two substance dramatically. A side benefit is that you will lose weight.
And smoking. Even if it didn’t reduce the production of collagen, it does so much damage to your body. Just stop.
Collagen production is directly related to what we feed our bodies and how we behave. I believe that as we age, we don’t give our bodies enough of what they need to produce the collagen we need, and we participate in unhealthy behaviours.
Put those two things together, and we will be showing signs of premature aging and have aches and pains that the collagen could look after.
Let’s supplement and see if we can have an extension to our life and the quality of our life.
Collagen – Should I Take It As A Supplement?
The short answer is “yes.” Whether you are involved in a weight-lifting lifestyle or not, you should be supplementing your body with collagen. We cannot eat enough of the foods necessary to allow our bodies to produce enough collagen.
That being said, if you are involved in any type of exercise on a regular basis, then you need to take a collagen supplement.
Taking the supplement will assist in all the above mentioned functions, and as scientist study collagen more and more, they are discovering other benefits of taking extra collagen.
Collagen is used in topical treatments to help reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles. Women who took a collagen supplement showed an improvement in skin elasticity, in this 2014 study.
In another study, arthritis patients showed a significant decrease in pain over a 70-day study compared to those who took a placebo.
Also, in this 2015 study of elderly men, those who took the collagen supplement and participated in strength training, had increased muscle mass and strength over those who took the placebo.
As more studies are completed, the usefulness of collagen supplements will be revealed.
My wife and I added a collagen to our supplements (pictured below) that we take daily a couple of years ago. We have experienced less joint soreness and have also noticed a difference in our skin, nails, and hair. Our skin is smoother, and our nails and hair grow like crazy!
So there you have it.
We used to make enough collagen to meet the bodies needs, but as we age, we don’t. A supplement is probably a good idea.
Remember, I am not a doctor. I am only giving you my opinion based on my own experience. Feel free to do your own research and consult a medical professional before starting any supplement.
Thanks for listening.
If you have any comments or questions, please include them below.
Have a great day, and I’ll see you in the next post!