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Most trendy diet and supplement trends within the wellness community eventually become obsolete—and usually, pretty quickly. However, in collagen’s case, its popularity has only seemed to gain momentum.

That being said, just because a trend or supplement has increased in popularity and recognition doesn’t necessarily mean it’s 100% legitimate. While you may be noticing some amazing benefits and beauty perks after incorporating collagen into your diets, surely you’d have some questions too. For instance, why is collagen considered to be such a holy-grail source of protein and nutrients, why and how has it quickly risen to such a cult-level status, and perhaps most importantly, will it really make your skin prettier? Keep reading to learn all about collagen and what experts think about its purported skin and health benefits.

THE EDGE + BENEFITS

Collagen is an essential protein that serves as a natural building block within our bodies. It basically holds us all together and is found in our bones, muscles, skin, and tendons, adding strength and structure. As we get older, collagen gets depleted, which is why we start to notice a lack of elasticity and an increase in things like wrinkles and lines. Plus, outside factors like sun, smoking, and sugar can also inhibit collagen production.

But what exactly is it about collagen that makes it so different than other proteins and more specifically, why is it such a supposed skin savior? Collagen has a few special properties that make it a preferred source of protein for our bodies.

The primary difference between collagen protein and other proteins is the amino acid profile. All protein contains amino acids that our bodies use to rebuild and restore. However, collagen is unique in that it contains higher levels of three important amino acids: proline, hydroxyproline, and glycine—all of which play an important role in helping to revitalize your skin, hair, nails, and joints. Additionally, it’s great for gut and bone health.

But because collagen is a naturally occurring substance within our bodies and we can’t naturally regenerate it after it’s become depleted, supplementation is key. It’s important to supplement with collagen to support and maintain what’s already there. Approximately 70% of the protein in our skin is collagen, helping spur collagen synthesis, and therefore making collagen the preferential vehicle for healthy skin, hair, and nails. This foundation helps keep these aspects of our body elastic, hydrated and strong. Plus, since it’s found in our connective tissue as well, including our gut, collagen can be very beneficial for people hoping to improve their digestive health.

WHY NOW?

So if collagen is such an essential aspect of our overall health while also presenting some major perks where our appearance is concerned, why are we just hearing about it now? (And by “now” we mean within the past few years.)

Collagen, itself, certainly isn’t anything new to our diets, as it’s always been present in many favorite foods, like homemade chicken soup, but the main idea is that there has been a lack of education around collagen protein and its importance to the overall health of our bodies. Recently, its popularity has helped shed light on its benefits and why our bodies need it.

HOW TO USE

Everyone’s body is different, but because collagen is simply a protein that’s already naturally occurring in our body, it’s widely considered a safe supplement. And luckily, there are plenty of different ways you can take the supplement to reap all the internal and external benefits. It’s just as effective to supplement with capsules as it is with powders. Or even just regularly including collagen-rich foods (think bone broth and eggs) can have major benefits. Just make sure you make it a daily habit, otherwise, you probably won’t notice much of a difference. Like any other supplement, taking collagen consistently is the best way to see benefits. However, as with any new supplement, we recommend doing your research and talking with your go-to medical professional prior to starting a new routine. Also, serving size, frequency of supplementation, and type of collagen taken may vary from person to person.