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What’s the hype around collagen?

by Salaamedia Intern

Collagen, a protein supplement which has been around for a long time, has gained a lot of momentum. It has been given newfound life as it is promoted in the beauty and fitness industry. This begs the question, is it something that we should be investing in?

Despite collagen products becoming a booming market right now, few people are aware of what it is. Dr. Naseeba Kathrada –a general practitioner- described collagen as “the most abundant protein found in our bodies”. Collagen serves a variety of biological services, therefore is categorised into four types based on where they are found.

It is found in muscles, tendons and connective tissue and has commonly been used to help ease muscle pain.

“It’s also [found] in between your discs, in your vertebrae, as like a shock absorber. It’s also the main component of reticular fibers that’s in your eyes, in your skin, blood vessels and you find collagen in your kidneys, in your inner ear, and in the lens of your eye,” says Kathrada.

With most supplements, the public focus is on what the product can do and what its benefits are. Collagen being so abundant it comes with numerous benefits including improved elasticity and hydration of your skin. It is said to relieve joint pains and prevent bone loss as a certain type of collagen focuses on bone formation. It improves muscle mass, encourages heart health care, improves nails, hair, brain health, gut health and is a contributor to weight loss.

Whilst the benefit of this hyped protein substantiates the craze and popularity amongst people, it does come with its negatives. One of its side effects is that it contains common food allergens. People may suffer with digestive problems such as heartburn and diarrhea, nausea and feelings of fullness and heaviness in the stomach.

Kathrada mentioned that collagen is derived from animal bones, including pork. This poses a problem for the Muslim community and the vegan community. However, there are alternatives. She encouraged people to read the ingredients when looking to buy these products.

Contrary to belief, the source of collagen is not only through supplements or powders but can also be gained through the foods we eat. Foods can be used to boost collagen levels. Collagen is best utilized when you have maintained a balanced and healthy diet. Kathrada revealed that collagen is best absorbed with vitamin C.

“If you’re having a meal, if you’re having some fruit just after you’ve taken your collagen, or if you’re making a broth make sure that you have some [Vit C]. When you say vitamin C, I know the first thing people say oranges, yes oranges are high in vitamin C. What’s also very high in vitamin C, bell peppers … Guavas are very high in vitamin C, strawberries, papaya, and in fact green chilies are also high in vitamin C,” advised Kathrada.

While side effects and risks are associated with collagen, there is a method behind the madness. It is best taken with moderation while following a balanced diet and fitness regimen.

Julie Alli spoke with Dr. Naseeba Kathrada about the benefits of collagen.

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