Why Is Collagen So Important?

Sara Chille
Why Is Collagen So Important?

Skin, bone, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and connective tissues all contain collagen, which is a structural protein. It is the most abundant protein in the body and makes up 30% of the body’s total protein. All proteins are made of amino acids which are the building blocks that make them. The amino acids proline, glycine, and hydroxyproline make up collagen.

There are several different types of collagen, 28 to be exact, with four being the most common:

  • Type I: Makes up most of the collagen in your body (90%), commonly found in skin, bone, ligaments, and tendons.
  • Type II: Provides support to joints. Type II is in cartilage. 
  • Type III: This type is in the muscles, arteries, and organs. 
  • Type IV: This type is in ears, eyes, hair, and some layers of skin. 

What Does Collagen Do?

The primary role of collagen in the body is to provide structural support and strength. It is an essential component throughout the body, although most of the collagen’s recognition comes for its role in keeping skin elasticity and firmness. Here are some of the many benefits collagen does for our body. 

Benefits of Collagen

Strengthens skin, hair, and nails

Your collagen-rich tissue directly affects how your skin looks and feels. As we age, our bodies begin to produce less collagen which causes our skin to become drier and develop wrinkles. This occurs due to the fibrils breaking down and undergoing loss causing the skin to become thin and weaken.

Through supplementation or increasing your intake via your diet, may even increase nail strength by preventing brittleness, and making hair stronger. Studies have shown that daily intake of collagen peptides showed improvement in nail growth.

Improve joint pain

Cartilage acts as a cushion at the end of bones which protects your joints. Loss of collagen may lead to joint pain and osteoarthritis.  Deterioration of tendons and ligaments, and breakdown of cartilage leads to osteoarthritis which can be excelled with loss of collagen.

Boosts Muscle Mass

Amino acids which are the building blocks of muscle. Increasing muscle mass through dietary intake and resistance training is paramount for our health and to increase metabolism. As we age, our muscle mass depletes and may lead to sarcopenia which is accelerated loss of muscle and muscle function. Studies showed supplementation may help boost muscle mass in people with sarcopenia. However, don’t rely solely on collage protein for building muscle. This is because collagen is an incomplete protein meaning that it does not contain all 9 essential amino acids. Therefore, collagen lacks an essential amino acid for muscle synthesis and that is leucine. 

Improve heart health

Collagen provides structure to our arteries which carry blood from our heart to various parts of the body. Like our skin, without adequate structure and support, the arteries become weak. Additionally, weakness of arteries may lead to heart attack or stroke due to a lack of blood flow. One double-blind randomized controlled study looked at pork collagen supplementation and noticed that it may contribute to the prevention of atherosclerosis as well as lowering arterial stiffness.

Nutritional Sources of Collagen

We gradually produce less and less collagen with age, although there are other factors that contribute to the acceleration of collagen loss including smoking, sun exposure, air pollutants, toxins, and stress. This is why it’s important to obtain adequate amounts of collagen through your diet. You may see creams and beauty products containing this ingredient at the store, but consuming collagen through your diet is the most bioavailable way to obtain it. 

Collagen must first be broken down in the body into smaller amino acids and peptides in order to be absorbed. Collagen supplements, that you buy at the store, have been “pre-broken down” or hydrolyzed for easier absorption. However, over-the-counter supplements are not regulated and usually contain many filler ingredients. Also, collagen supplements are usually derived from common allergens such as fish, shellfish, and eggs. Other sources come from beef or chicken. It is very important to read ingredient labels carefully before consuming to make sure they are right for you. Food is a much safer option which is why it is best to turn to a dietary approach first when boosting collagen. Here are a few key sources of collagen that you can obtain from your diet. 

Bone Broth

You have probably heard the recent hype around bone broth, and rightfully so. Bone broth is extremely nutritious. It is a rich source of protein and various nutrients including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and you guessed it, collagen! 

Bone broth is also a source of gelatin, which may break down into collagen in the body. This is especially important in the joints. With repeated use, the cartilage in the joints wears down over time causing it to diminish. This can add more stress to this area and may damage them due to the added pressure.

Consuming rich sources of gelatin through the diet may help protect the joints from additional stress. Adding bone broth to your diet may be a good way to get gelatin and may help protect these joints. It is very easy and inexpensive to make your own bone broth at home or you can purchase it at the store.

Some good brands to try are Kettle and Fire or Pacific. It is delicious, enjoyed heated up as sipping broth, or if that is not your jam, prepare homemade soup with a bone broth base, or use it for cooking. I like to sip on mine like a warm cup of tea and sprinkle some ground turmeric on top!

Vitamin C-rich foods 

Vitamin C helps us fight free radicals that damage our skin. The vitamin C in lemons, for example, can encourage the production of collagen, and help produce smooth, healthy skin. For example, other rich sources of Vitamin C include bell peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, kiwi, grapefruit, and strawberries. Squeeze lemon into your water or on a salad or enjoy a refreshing bowl of fruit to add some extra Vitamin C to your diet. 


The yolk and shell membrane of the egg contains collagen, and the egg white contains the amino acids proline and glycine which are both needed for collagen production. Eggs also are a good source of important nutrients such as B vitamins and vitamin E which can help protect the skin from damage. 


Garlic has many health benefits including aiding in collagen production. This aromatic veggie contains high amounts of sulfur. If you are not familiar, sulfur is an essential trace mineral needed by the body to build DNA, protect your cells from damage, and be needed for collagen synthesis. So, add crushed garlic to dishes when cooking or flavor them with garlic powder to enhance your meals! 


To clarify, collagen is a key nutrient and necessary protein needed to help you look and feel your best. Try to incorporate some collagen-rich foods into your diet today. You can also chat in with our nutritional coaches to see if you are consuming enough collagen or with any questions you may have.