In a world that is so heavily focused on external appearance, it can be difficult to make informed, ethical decisions when it comes to beauty products. Thanks to a sea of twisted marketing messages, photoshopped models, celebrity endorsements, reality TV shows and other elements of our society that pressure women to look "perfect" rather than "healthy", determining which substances to allow onto, and into, your body can be a confusing process. One group of natural beauty products that has experienced a recent wave of popularity is collagen supplements which have been called the ultimate "inside-out" beauty product thanks to their ability to naturally strengthen hair, nails, and skin.   To find out how collagen supplements can boost our vitality and brighten our natural shine, we first need to understand the role that collagen plays within our bodies.

Collagen 101

Collagen is one of the most abundant proteins in our body and is located in muscles, bones, skin, tendons, hair and even the digestive system. Think of it as the "glue" that holds our bodies together.

The body's collagen production begins to decrease as we age. This natural process is responsible for some of our most obvious signs of aging such as wrinkles, sagging skin and joint pains. Collagen-related ailments are often caused by a combination of genetic defects, low intake of collagen-rich foods, nutritional deficiencies and digestive problems which can affect the body's ability to synthesize collagen. Other lifestyle determinants such as high sugar intake, smoking and excessive sun exposure can also contribute to the depletion of collagen levels and leave us feeling - and looking - quite a bit older than we should.

How Does Collagen Benefit My Body?

1. Improves Circulation

Collagen is known to strengthen blood vessels and improve their elasticity. It does this by fortifying your blood vessels to improve their circulation throughout the body.

2. Promotes Healing

Collagen is required by the body to mend and rebuild connective tissue damage which helps maintain healthy muscles, skin, and joints. It also strengthens the structure of bones, tendons, cartilage, and ligaments.

3. Relieves Joint Pain

Inflammation in the joints can cause poor mobility and severe pain for some people. Collagen is known to increase your joint mobility and reduce pain caused by inflammation while also encouraging extra cell growth.

4. Reduces Appearance of Cellulite

Collagen works from the inside of your body to reduce the appearance of cellulite by rebuilding and repairing the fibers that cause cellulite to appear.

5. Reduces Wrinkles

Wrinkles and skin imperfections benefit greatly from collagen. Regularly ingesting collagen encourages your skin to become soft, supple and more elastic, which decreases the prevalence of wrinkles and blemishes.

6. Improves Hair Quality

Collagen is a significant component in hair growth due to it's ability to fight the free radicals that can degrade your hair's texture, growth, and thickness. Replacing collagen in the body can improve the overall health and appearance of your hair.

7. Treats Leaky Gut Syndrome

Collagen helps to soothe your gut’s lining, healing damaged cell walls and infusing them with restorative amino acids. The significant digestive benefit of consuming collagen is that it helps form connective tissue and therefore “heals and seals” the fragile lining of your gastrointestinal tract.

Where Does Collagen Come From?

Collagen is naturally derived from the bones and connective tissue of animals such as fish, chickens, pigs and cows. Traditionally, many cultures obtained high amounts of collagen from their diet which typically included meals such as bone broths and stews. Organic, free range bone broths are still one of the most effective ways to boost your collagen intake and are highly recommended if you have the time to prepare them. For most of us, however, high quality, ethically sourced supplements can sometimes be the best way to keep our body's collagen levels where they should be.

Which Source Of Collagen Is Most Effective?

Not all collagen is created equal in the context of how it benefits your body. Recently, marine collagen has become recognized as the most bioavailable form of collagen, being absorbed up to 1.5 times more efficiently into the body than other forms.

Marine collagen’s superior bioavailability is attributable to its lower molecular weight and size, which allows the collagen to be assimilated at a higher level through the intestinal barrier, into the bloodstream and subsequently distributed throughout the body. This enhances collagen synthesis in the joint tissues, bones, skin and many other essential body systems.

Fish collagen supplements are created using the scales, skin, bones and fins of fresh or saltwater fish which are often considered "waste products" in the commercial fishing process. Since these parts are often discarded by the seafood industry, using them to create products like collagen actually helps reduce environmental pollution.

Choosing A Collagen Supplement

There are many brands that create great collagen supplements. When choosing a collagen supplement, try to find out as much as you can about its origins and the ethos of the company the makes it. Here are a few of our favorite.

Dr. Collagen Multi Collagen Protein Capsules
Proplenish Marine Collagen Supplements
Great Lakes Collagen Hydrolysate (Kosher Beef)

Health trends come and go, but the products that tend to be most successful are the ones that effectively fill dietary gaps created by our convenience-based Western lifestyle. Good quality collagen supplements are considered by many people to be an effective and safe way to ensure that your body is getting enough of the essential proteins it needs to keep you looking vibrant and young!

Have You Used Collagen Supplements Before? Share Your Experience In The Comments Below!