As we age, our natural collagen production slows down and decreases. Collagen is an animal-derived product, making it difficult for those following a plant-based lifestyle to choose the right supplements that provide similar benefits. Below we have listed the main preventative benefits of using collagen supplementation, and then suggested some plant-based supplement options that you could incorporate to reap similar benefits.
Cartilage is a connective tissue, which is similar to a rubber band that protects our joints. One of the main components of cartilage is collagen. Science has shown that as we age, our natural collagen production decreases, resulting in age-related joint degradation,with sub-optimal cartilage health, this may lead to increased inflammation and joint disorders such as osteoarthritis. Sulphur is a major component in maintaining and strengthening joint tissue, notably cartilage, and is the third most abundant mineral in the human body. Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is a natural sulphur-containing compound found in green plants, animals, and the human body. MSM provides the body with essential sulphur and methyl groups that are used by the body during its healing and repair processes. This multi-functional mineral has also been shown to assist in reducing inflammation and pain, while preserving normal joint health and functioning.
Just like our natural collagen production decreases with age, so too does our bone density. This reduction in bone mass can lead to an increased risk of bone fractures as well as conditions such as osteoporosis. Although collagen is the main organic matter that makes up the bone matrix, calcium is the main inorganic matter. While supplementing directly with collagen and calcium may seem to be the quick fix for this, there is a concern that excess calcium can result in the calcification of the arteries (you can read more about Sally-Ann’s perspective on this here).
Rather, one should look at supplementing with Vitamin D3 and K2. Vitamin D3 assists with the absorption of calcium from the food we eat. Vitamin K2 can be thought of as the ‘traffic officer’ that sends this calcium to the bones for bone mineralisation. When taken in combination, Vitamin D3 and Vitamin K2 form the ideal l bone building combo as they are able to absorb and direct calcium to the bone matrix to assist with the development and maintenance of overall bone density.
Collagen provides a structural framework for our arteries, it therefore assists with healthy blood flow from our heart to the rest of our body. Without this structural support in our arteries, they can begin to stiffen, become less flexible, and weaken. This could lead to more serious and life threatening issues, such as heart disease, strokes, or heart attacks.Therefore, it is important to look at supplementing with Vitamin C and Zinc, as both of these assist with promoting the absorption of collagen, as well as stimulate the body’s natural collagen production. Further to this, Coenzyme Q-10 (CoQ-10), is a fat-soluble, vitamin-like compound that has been shown to contribute to improving heart health, regulating blood sugar, and is recommended to be used with Statins (cholesterol lowering medication), as Statins can lead to secondary CoQ-10 depletion.
Maintaining a strong and healthy digestive tract is important for our overall health as well as preventing a condition known as “leaky gut.” Leaky gut occurs when there is damage in the barrier that lines our intestines. This damage allows for food and waste particles to pass through the gut lining directly into the bloodstream, causing inflammation. This inflammation can then lead to symptoms such as stomach cramping, bloating and gas, as well as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and, in some cases, food sensitivities.
As we go about our daily activities, stress is placed on muscles and the metabolites in our body increase. L-glutamine supplementation helps reduce excessive inflammation and improves the health of the digestive system by strengthening the intestinal wall. L-glutamine also has anti-oxidative properties proving beneficial in reducing waist circumference and blood sugar levels.
If you would like to further improve your digestive health, you can look at supplementing with a pre- and probiotic such as our Sally-Ann Creed® MaxiPrebiotic (MaxiFOS) and Sally-Ann Creed® MaxiProbiotic 20 (Maxibiotic 20). This will ensure that your good gut bacteria are operating at their optimum, providing you with even better nutrient absorption and overall well being.
Collagen is also a large component of muscle tissue. As we age, our muscle mass, motor functions and muscular performance decreases. We tend to become less active and the combination of these factors has a downward-spiral effect on our overall mobility and well-being.
Glutamine is the most abundant and versatile non-essential amino acid in the human body, promoting cell survival, maintenance, and division. L-glutamine supplementation can be thought of as the fuel that boosts our immune system and improves athlethic performance outcomes. It has been shown to assist in post-exercise muscle cell repair, promote muscle tissue maintenance and growth, and helps to burn fat, while possessing anti-inflammatory properties.
In addition to this, magnesium is a mineral that assists with the functioning of the nervous system, improves muscle recovery, and promotes sleep. Supplementing with magnesium has been shown to assist in the optimal functioning of muscles and the nervous system and is essential for skeletal growth and development, while helping to maintain strong bones and teeth.
Together, L-glutamine and Magnesium not only assists in creating an optimal environment for our muscles, but have many other benefits similar to that of collagen, such as bone density, gut and joint health benefits.
With the above information, we hope that you can now narrow in on some key supplement options that target specific prevention concerns you may have. Collagen supplementation is an easy way to get all of the above benefits in one go, but following a plant-based lifestyle does not mean that one cannot reap similar benefits elsewhere – it is all about understanding your needs and strategically coupling the correct supplements to cater to these needs.
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