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A complete guide to collagen

Dec 4, 2018
By Maggie Rowedda

Collagen — is it the secret sauce to better skin or healthier joints? There are many claims about the potential health benefits of supplementing with collagen, but what does it actually do for your body? Collagen is something your body makes naturally, but do you really need to take supplements to get enough?

What is collagen and what does it do?

Collagen is a protein made naturally by your body to maintain its elasticity (think of it as the substance that holds the body together). It’s the most abundant protein in the body as it is found in your bones, cartilage, muscles, intestinal lining, connective tissue, blood vessels, and organs — including your skin! Your body has produced collagen your whole life, but the production of collagen slows down as you age.

What are signs that there may be an issue with collagen?

Have you noticed that over time your body and skin don’t look or feel quite the same as you once remembered? Collagen production may be the cause. When your collagen production dips, there are a few changes you might notice:

  • Joint pain
  • Stiff or less flexible tendons
  • Weak or aching muscles
  • Wrinkles

What are collagen supplements?

Collagen supplements - although not medically proven to have any substantial outcome - have become very popular amongst individuals from all walks of life. Collagen supplements are produced in a surprising variety of different forms. The most common form of collagen is hydrolyzed powder, which is typically extracted from animal hides or bones. Hydrolyzed collagen powder is popular because it’s usually flavorless and can be mixed into liquids easily. There are also capsules that contain this powdered form of collagen. You will also frequently find collagen as an ingredient in skin care creams.

Collagen supplements seem to be the latest health fad, even though they don’t have any proven medical results. It’s always best to consult your doctor before exploring new supplement options. If you do chose to invest in collagen supplements, you should always check the ingredients list for common supplement “fillers”. Fillers like carrageenan, artificial colors, and flavors provide no substantial nutrients to your body.

While there isn't a medically proven way to track your collagen levels or the effectiveness of collagen supplements, it is always best to talk to your doctor first before considering a new supplement.

Still have questions about collagen? Talk to your primary care doctor today.

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Maggie Rowedda

Maggie Rowedda is a wellness advocate and health coach who's passionate about women's health, nutrition and lifestyle modifications. Maggie has served on her local hospital advisory board for the last 2 years advocating for patients.

The One Medical blog is published by One Medical, a national, modern primary care practice pairing 24/7 virtual care services with inviting and convenient in-person care at over 100 locations across the U.S. One Medical is on a mission to transform health care for all through a human-centered, technology-powered approach to caring for people at every stage of life.

Any general advice posted on our blog, website, or app is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace or substitute for any medical or other advice. 1Life Healthcare, Inc. and the One Medical entities make no representations or warranties and expressly disclaim any and all liability concerning any treatment, action by, or effect on any person following the general information offered or provided within or through the blog, website, or app. If you have specific concerns or a situation arises in which you require medical advice, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified medical services provider.