<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=424649934352787&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Are Collagen Supplements Effective?

GettyImages-1195245457Collagen is the most plentiful protein in the body and the primary structural component of connective tissues found in your bones, cartilage, tendons, ligaments and skin, aiding in their elasticity and strength. Our bodies naturally produce collagen; however, its production declines as we age, especially when paired with poor diet, excess alcohol use, lack of exercise, excess sun exposure, or use of tobacco products. The degradation of collagen and collagen production can lead to wrinkles and an aged appearance, both of which are feared in our youthful appearance-obsessed society, leading to an increased consumer interest in collagen and collagen-containing products in recent years.

Collagen Supplements: How to Buy It and What It Might Be Able to Do 

Collagen supplements are available in a variety of forms, including powders, pills, and fortified foods. They are often sold as “hydrolyzed collagen” or “collagen peptides,” both forms of collagen that have already been broken down and are therefore more readily absorbed by the body. There is some evidence to suggest that collagen supplements can improve skin elasticity and hydration, promote wound healing, and improve joint mobility and pain, and are generally deemed safe with no reported adverse health effects. However, the evidence that is available to support these claims is often unclear (for example, the exact dosage to experience benefits) or funded by related industries or authors with ties to those industries who may benefit from positive research outcomes, presenting a potential conflict of interest. Additionally, as with all other dietary supplements, collagen supplements are not assessed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) prior to being marketed; therefore, their efficacy and safety is not guaranteed.

Should You Take a Collagen Supplement?

Currently, there is not enough evidence to provide clear recommendations to support or advise against the use of collagen supplements. However, when searching for any supplement, including collagen, look for those with USP or NSF certifications on the label, which indicate that the product has been tested by a third party for purity, potency, and safety. Additionally, you should always consult a health care professional, such as your physician, prior to starting any supplement.

How to Protect Your Natural Collagen

Finally, there are some ways to naturally protect your body’s natural collagen without taking supplements:

  • Wearing sunscreen every day: UV light from the sun breaks down collagen.
  • Eating a healthy diet, with plenty of fruits and vegetables: Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidant Vitamin C, which can help protect collagen from damage and breakdown.
  • Controlling stress: Some studies have shown that chronically high cortisol (stress hormone) levels are associated with decreased collagen production.
  • Quitting smoking and limiting smoke exposure: Smoking may decrease the rate of collagen synthesis in the body.
  • Getting enough sleep: The National Sleep Foundation recommends between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night for most adults.

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

This blog was written by Lindsey Recker, MS, RD, NIFS Registered Dietitian. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: joint health supplements joints dietary supplements skin collagen beauty elasticity

Skip the Abdominal Crunch and Try These Core Strength Exercises

Screen Shot 2021-09-07 at 4.16.27 PMWe all know that core stability and strength is an important factor in exercise, athletics, and even daily living. Being able to properly brace and stiffen the core is an important skill in preventing lower-back injuries when attempting certain movement patterns that occur every day. The abdominal crunch, which people often think of as a core exercise, is actually not a movement we see in our day-to-day lives. Try and think of a time you have had to mimic the abdominal crunch under a heavy load: it simply does not occur.

More often than not, we need to be stronger in the core in a more upright or natural standing posture. The abdominal crunch is now being found to stress the low-back area, can cause discomfort by compressing your back joints, and can even lead to injury after a while.

So you are probably wondering, how do I strengthen my core in an upright position? The answer is through anti-movement patterns. These could be anti-rotational, anti-flexion/extension, or anytime you are forcing your body to resist being moved from a normal posture. These patterns can be accomplished in an isometric hold or a dynamic pattern with bands, kettlebells, or weights.

Anti-rotational Exercise: The Paloff Press

An example of an anti-rotational exercise would be the Paloff press, shown here:

The goal is to press the handle from your belly button slowly and in a controlled manner so that the core has to work to not let your body turn.

Anti-Flexion or Extension Exercise: The Plank

An example of an anti-flexion or extension would be a plank, as shown here:

The goal is to keep your hips down and really engage the core area by pulling your belly button in. You can add weights to your back or increase the time you do these to make them more challenging!

Strengthening Exercise: The Kettlebell March

An example of strengthening the core in that normal standing position would be a kettlebell march, where you can either do two kettlebells in the front squat position or one held out in front. Both are shown here:

Marching slowly and controlled is the key for this exercise. While doing this, all the muscles in your core fire to prevent you from falling any direction while you balance on one leg.

Core Blog

See a NIFS Health Fitness Specialist to learn how you can start strengthening your core in a neutral position to assist with your exercises and your day-to-day life. See these links for more information:

ACSM core PowerPoint: http://forms.acsm.org/TPC/PDFs/23%20Best.pdf

PT Dr. Aaron Horschig: “The Big Three”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_e4I-brfqs

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

This blog was written by Grant Lamkin, NIFS Health Fitness Specialist. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: injury prevention videos core strength core exercises lower back pain anti-rotational anti-flexion