Let’s talk collagen shall we                   By Dr Sivuyile Madikana (Herbalife NAB Southern Africa)

What exactly is this ‘collagen’ and why is there a buzz around it lately? Simply put, collagen is a protein produced by the body. It’s an abundant protein forming a 3rd of the human body’s protein, (which makes it significant to zone in on). It has a fibre-like structure whose role is to provide support and anchor cells to one another, and is a major component of bone, skin, muscles, tendons, and cartilage to name a few. 

Endogenous collagen as described above, is naturally produced by the body, whereas exogenous collagen comes from an outside source such as supplements. 

Benefits of collagen include: 

• maintenance of the skin’s hydration & elasticity,

• increased bone density and hair thickness

• increase muscle mass 

The older we grow collagen breaks down and the body’s ability to produce collagen is reduced. This in turn disrupts the structural integrity of organs like skin, making it lose its elasticity, resulting in wrinkle formation and in the joints, weakens cartilage which predisposes one to osteoarthritis. 

Apart from age, other factors that reduce collagen production are:

• excessive sun exposure

• smoking

• excess alcohol

• lack of sleep and exercise 

This brings us to Exogenous collagen in the form of supplementation. But before we get into supplementation lets dive into what your body needs to produce collagen i.e.: Proline (found in egg whites, dairy, cabbage & mushrooms) Glycine ( found in pork skin, chicken skin and gelatine and many other protein-rich foods) Vitamin C, Zinc and Copper. Which then means a healthy diet comprising of the above facilitates collagen production, but as we all know the natural process of aging is inevitable. But can it be modified or decelerated? This then leads us to the discussion of, the possible necessity of exogenous collagen to supplement collagen production in the body. In this regard collagen can be consumed in different forms that come in powder that can be mixed with water. Other products include collagen tablets that can be taken as supplements daily. 

It is always better if our exogenous collagen contains other vitamins to support our body structure.