Collagen for the Heart?
Collagen for the Heart?
Dr. Claire Arcidiacono, ND
In my last blog I mentioned that I would be reviewing a few supplements for the heart that you normally don’t associate with heart health. The first such supplement is collagen! Collagen is an important building block for many parts of the body. Remember those valves I wrote about in the anatomy of the heart blog? Those valves are very important in keeping blood flowing in the right direction. Well collagen is a huge part of these valves and the muscles that work to open and close them. According to studies without enough collagen in the body these valves don’t function optimally. In fact deficiencies in collagen proteins may lead to valve disease. (1)
In addition to helping with the valves of the heart collagen has been found to help certain blood markers that are used to treat heart health. Studies have found collagen to help with lowering LDL and lowering blood pressure. Additionally studies have found that collagen can even increase the levels of HDL which helps to protect the heart! (2, 3)
Collagen has also been found to help in fighting atherosclerosis or the buildup of plaque that occurs in both our heart and in our blood vessels. (4) In addition to being important to our heart itself collagen is also an important part of our blood vessels. Basically what collagen does is allow our arteries to be flexible and elastic. This is important for things such as our blood pressure. When there is a deficiency of collagen the arteries will become less flexible. This can in the long term lead to blood pressure going up and thus it can increase our risk of complications such as heart attack and stroke! (5)
Studies have found so many uses for collagen in keeping us healthy! For example as I mentioned in my series on joint health collagen can help with the symptoms of osteoarthritis. Studies have found that taking collagen supplement can help with general joint pain and even joint stiffness! (6) Related to our joint health in way is our bone health. Our bones are basically made of 2 parts and these are the mineral part and the collagen part. Picture a ladder that is filled with pillows. That is basically our bones. The ladder is the mineral part and the collagen the soft pillow part. Studies indicate that collagen supplements may slow the breakdown of bone which is what leads to a decrease in our bone density. (7)
Collagen has also been found in studies to help with our muscle strength and health. This is particularity true for those that are experiencing sarcopenia or loss of muscle mass that occurs as we age. (8) This may be something that you may say but wait I’m still young! Why do I need to care about something that may not happen for years? Because as I always say it is better to prevent a problem now than actually have to treat a problem after it occurs.
From both studies and my own practical experience, I can tell you that collagen is excellent for gut health. For anyone with leaky gut syndrome collagen can be a wonderful addition to any treatment protocol.
But these concerns are just our internal “stuff” as they say. What about our hair, skin and nails? Does collagen do anything for these structures? The answer is yes! Collagen is one of the building blocks for these structures and studies show that collagen can help maintain their health. (9)
One of the questions I get asked all the time is how do I use the Collagen Hx ? My answer is in any way that you will be able to do consistently. For example if you make a daily shake adding collagen is an easy way to take it. However if you hate shakes then that’s not the choice for you. It is better to add it to a beverage you do like. Drink a daily cup of tea or even coffee? Add your collagen to help make your regular beverage a nutritious start to your day. Do you like to start your day with yogurt or even oatmeal? Collagen can be added to both of these! Collagen is also fine mixed with plan water too! Remember what I always say about consistency. It is key to the way supplements work. And don’t be afraid to try new things. You might try a fruit smoothie with collagen and find you love it!
In our next blog I will be talking about blood pressure which is an important topic for everyone no matter their age.