Collagen powder has been gaining interest recently. Although it is often thought of as just a beauty product to help with skin aging, the benefits go far beyond that.
What exactly is collagen?
This insoluble protein accounts for a majority of the protein in our body and is found mostly in skin, muscle, bone and connective tissue. It is also rich in the amino acids proline, glycine and hydroxyproline, which are not typically present in food. There are 16 types of collagen, with type I, II, III, IV most commonly found throughout the body.
While our body produces collagen regularly, over time lifestyle factors can lead to reduced elasticity in cartilage, tendons, ligaments and skin. This leads to wrinkles, thin skin, joint discomfort and muscle weakness.
What are the benefits?
Joint pain. As your cartilage weakens and deteriorates with age, you may start to experience stiff, achy joints. It's possible that upping your collagen intake may help reduce joint pain and alleviate symptoms of arthritis.
In a 2009 study, participants took a type II collagen supplement made from chicken necks for 90 days. Results showed that osteoarthritis symptoms decreased by 40 percent while the severity of symptoms dropped by an impressive 33 percent. 
Skin health. This essential protein provides elasticity to the skin, helping it to appear more youthful and healthy. A study published in 2014 randomly chose women, ages 35 to 55, to take a collagen hydrolysate supplement. They reported an improvement in skin elasticity within four weeks and reduced wrinkles after eight weeks.  
Muscle health. Collagen contains a concentrated amount of glycine, an amino acid involved in the synthesis of creatine. Creatine provides muscles with the fuel needed to power through your workout. A 2015 study looked at men 53 and older with sarcopenia (muscle loss) and after 12 weeks of added collagen they saw an increase in muscle mass and fat loss. 
Digestive health. Collagen is in the gut's connective tissue and can help support and strengthen the protective lining of your digestive tract. Any alterations in the barrier function of your intestine, also known as leaky gut syndrome, can allow particles to pass into the bloodstream and result in chronic inflammation.
There is a correlation between low collagen levels and individuals with IBD (inflammatory bowel disease).  In theory, increasing your intake of collagen could help build up the tissues that line your gastrointestinal tract and improve overall digestive function.
Where can you find collagen?
If you want to consume collagen naturally, eat a well-balanced, high-protein diet that includes animal products such as beef, chicken, fish and egg whites. Another option is to supplement with collagen peptides. There are many different collagen products and bone broth powders on the market; however, many might not reap the benefits. So, if you're in the market for a quality collagen, stop by Keystone Pharmacy.
Written by Brandi Grimmer, BS, CNC, LPht, Nutritional Consultant for Keystone Pharmacy.
This article was republished with permission and originally appeared on Keystone Pharmacy.