If you follow nutritional and beauty trends, you’re well aware that collagen is the latest magical “it” supplement. Whether you’re a trend follower or you thought “collagen” meant someone who attends a four-year university, you’ve still probably unknowingly eaten the stuff.
You see, gelatin is made from collagen, and you’ll find gelatin in everything — from gummy bears and cereal frosting to marshmallows and gel caps used for many medications. So why bother taking a collagen supplement when an extra serving of Aunt Ruth’s ambrosia at your next family reunion should do the trick instead?
Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work that way. If you want to take a collagen supplement in order to take advantage of its many benefits, especially supporting your skin and nails, not all collagen is created equal.Choosing the right type and amount can make all the difference.
What Is Collagen?
Collagen is the main structural protein in the body. It makes up 25 to 35 percent of our total protein content in the form of connective tissue like tendons, ligaments, cartilage, bones, and about 75 percent of your skin.
Collagen works side by side with another protein called elastin: Collagen fills out your skin, while elastin helps your skin “snap back” when stretched.
But starting at about 20 years old, your body’s ability to produce collagen and elastin dwindles, which is why we get saggy and wrinkly as we get older.
So why can’t you just eat a bunch of gummy bears and be done with it? Because life isn’t always fair. Most dietary collagen and gelatin act just like all protein you consume — when digested, they’re broken down so you aren’t directly increasing