My undying love of collagen

OK, we can’t really call it an affair, it’s been going on too long for that, it’s totally public, and my boyfriend approves.  Maybe we can call collagen my favorite ally, then, in my quest for optimum health.  So let me tell you of the many ways having this mighty multitasking protein in my life has helped me.
Let’s begin with the fact that this is, in fact, a very clean source of protein, and has an excellent variety of amino acids.  What this translates to is giving your body lots of easily used tools to rebuild your muscles and tissues.  It’s a tasteless, textureless powder, so my favorite way is to mix a couple of tablespoons in my coffee first thing in the morning.  This assures my body that no, in fact I’m not starving, and business can continue as usual.  You know, burning fat, building muscle, thinking sharply, and having energy to run around like a crazy person.  It’s actually challenging to get enough protein some days, and this little supplement is perfect insurance against a protein deficiency, which can cause all kinds of unfun problems, especially if you are active, or ramping up your athletic performance.  I like it better than whey, too, because there’s no risk of allergy, collagen is anti-inflammatory, and you can mix it in anything without a flavor and texture disaster.
So what can this innocent looking cream colored powder do for you?  Collagen is downright amazing for joints!  It will literally rebuild the cartilage that gets worn and broken.  Have joint pain?  Take collagen!  The cartilage and connective tissue are primarily made of collagen proteins, so when you get enough in your diet, you can heal the damage done from, say, years of running, weight lifting with poor form, too much tennis, taking the stairs, or even just having poor posture.
If you want to have glowing, fresh skin, collagen is the answer for you.  Since collagen builds tissues, you can not only heal the stuff on the inside, you can heal the stuff on the outside too.  Like wrinkles and scars.  You don’t need botox or makeup or a facelift, just get enough collagen and cofactors and your skin will have that youthful glow long past everyone else in your high school class.  Since it helps build strong tissues, you can expect improvements in hair and nail growth, too.
One of the absolute BEST things about this stuff?  It helps get rid of cellulite!!  You know, all that orange peel skin on the backs of your thighs and bum?  There are several mechanisms at play here, and they don’t work alone, so make sure to get enough of the nutritional cofactors below to take full advantage of this ninja secret.  Beyond the nutrients it needs to work, getting exercise is essential.  All those tissues need to move and have good, hot circulation so everything can get to the cells that need the help.  The firmer and more toned those muscles underneath are, the more improvement you’ll see in the exterior skin.  There is a fair amount of loose, water-holding fat (you heard me right) that’s pushing through the lattice webbing of fibers that keep our skin firmly against our muscles.  So the more of that extra fat we can burn off, the better.  Firm massage, using a foam roller, or dry brushing is also helpful, and I would say you won’t see better results unless you use at least one of those tactics.  Beyond exercise, these steps are another way that helps circulate the fluids that need to drain out of those bumpy tissues, both removing what doesn’t need to be there and getting in the nutrients that will help that skin firm up.  Before you go nuts on the cellulite battle though, please understand that there is no physiological risk associated with cellulite, and it’s something I think we’ve focused far too heavily on for the last 50 or so years, along with overuse of cosmetics and body care products, and excessive shaving.  But again, I digress.  That stuff is for another post.
There are a few keys to unlocking all the potential that collagen holds.  Vitamin C is the greatest cofactor in collagen being able to perform its magic, and you’ll want to get at least 1,000mg a day.  Vitamin C has so many benefits that I could easily write a book on that subject alone, so we’ll save all that for later.  I like to boost my intake with a high quality supplement powder, because I just don’t feel that my veggies are a strong enough source.  Sulfur is also very important in being able to utilize collagen and rebuild tissues.  Without sulfur, our cells wouldn’t be able to go through the normal, daily detoxification that we need to keep ourselves running.  Sulfur also helps keep the skin clear of blemishes, and the most usable form I’ve found is MSM, as a powder.  Copper is next on the list, and is important in growing cross-linking tissues that are stretchy and robust.  In this way, collagen and copper work together to keep arteries healthy, elastic, and clear, so if your family has a history of heart disease, this is something you’ll want to make sure to get enough of.  Be aware though, please don’t go over the recommended limit in your daily dose of copper, which is 1,000 mcg (MICROgrams, not milligrams), because too much will accumulate, oxidize, and cause damage instead of healing.  I don’t know how magnesium ended up on the bottom of this list, but there’s a chance I’ll mention magnesium in everything I ever write.  It’s a large factor in all enzymatic processes in every cell, including clean DNA transcription and efficient nerve conduction, and in regards to our topic today will regulate how well the collagen we take in is utilized and assimilated into new tissues.  Without sufficient magnesium, you might get plenty of collagen, but you can’t use it.  Make sure to get at least 400mg a day, between food sources and supplements.  I like a citrate powder, myself.
Questions?  Comments?  Leave a note, we’ll chat!

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