Are collagen supplements necessary?

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The sport supplements industry is worth over 25 billion dollars, and almost every week new products are coming on the market. It can be very confusing, and many products are very expensive too. Yet understanding what you may need to supplement is crucial for your health. 

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a supplement as “something that completes or makes an addition”. One of the popular supplements on the market is collagen, which you can find added to many protein supplements, sports drinks, gummies etc. You can also buy it pretty much any grocery store, pharmacy or nutrition store. It has been claimed that it improves bone density, joints, hair, skin health, and promotes muscle gain and overall well-being. However, there is simply not enough research to support those claims. So are collagen supplements truly necessary, or can our bodies get enough collagen through diet and natural processes?

First, what is collagen? It is an essential protein that forms approximately 30% of your body’s protein content, providing structure and strength to various tissues including bones. It plays a crucial role in maintaining the structural integrity and elasticity of these body parts. Especially as we age, the natural production of collagen decreases, leading to weakened bones and an increased risk of osteoporosis, a condition characterized by fragile bones and a higher risk of fractures. 

Collagen can be found in a variety of foods, particularly those rich in protein such as bone broth, meat and fish, especially cuts that contain connective tissue. Egg whites contain large amounts of proline whip, one of the amino acids necessary for collagen production. Gelatin is a type of cooked collagen used in baking desserts and food products. However, complete whole food sources are the best because when consuming collagen-rich foods the body also needs nutrients like vitamin C, zinc, and copper to synthesize the collagen effectively.

Collagen supplements, typically in the form of hydrolyzed collagen or collagen peptides, are believed to stimulate the body’s own collagen production. These supplements may provide the necessary amino acids that serve as building blocks for collagen synthesis. When ingested, collagen peptides are absorbed in the intestines and transported to target tissues, including bones, where they can support collagen formation and improve bone health. However, individual differences in digestion rate can slow down the absorption so you need to take larger quantities, such as ten grams. Furthermore, while collagen supplements might be beneficial for an individual who can not get enough whole food protein in their diet, and especially patients on bed rest or after surgery, they still need to add other protein supplements too. 

If you are eating a balanced diet rich in collagen-promoting nutrients and natural sources of collagen, supplements will most likely not be necessary. Also, you should be aware of potential allergic reactions such, as if the supplements are derived from fish, shellfish, or eggs. In addition, they are not as well regulated as pharmaceuticals, which means the quality and concentration of collagen, as well as the cost, can vary between products. Ultimately, they are supplements, so if you feel you need it then please to assess your lifestyle and your diet before you purchase them. They can be beneficial for specific situations, but remember that no supplements will fix your lifestyle. And they will not give you a miracle. Adding healthy whole food protein sources to each meal, and drinking enough fluids, may solve the symptoms that you are looking to heal.

If you are considering collagen hydrolyzed supplements, it is important to choose high-quality products and if possible consult your doctor or nutritionist before making decision to be sure that it is appropriate for your specific health needs.

References:

Medical News Today. “Can collagen benefit people with osteoporosis?”. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/collagen-for-osteoporosis#benefits

National Library of Medicine. “24-Week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain”. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18416885/

National Library of Medicine. “Specific Collagen Peptides Improve Bone Mineral Density and Bone Markers in Postmenopausal Women—A Randomized Controlled Study”. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5793325/

UCLA Health. “Collagen peptides may be beneficial for menopausal bone loss”. https://www.uclahealth.org/news/article/collagen-peptides-may-be-beneficial-menopausal-bone-loss

MedicineNet. “Collagen Diet: Benefits, How to Get It, Diet Tips & More”. https://www.medicinenet.com/collagen_diet/article.htm

Cleveland Clinic. “Collagen”. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/23089-collagen

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competition history

Ayda competes regularly in fitness competitions and is currently preparing for the 2023 North American championships.

NPC North American Championships, 2022
NPC North American Championships, 2022
NPC North American Championships, 2022
CPA Toronto, 2021

You’ve probably heard so many people say “I love what I do”, BUT in my case I can truly say it from my heart. I’ve competed in sports all my life, but it wasn’t so long ago that I really understood that actually I can only ever compete with myself.

“You are perfect, until compare yourself with someone else”

I started contest prep in 2011, and since then I didn’t stop competing. In some competitions I got first place, in some it went not so well, but every competition that I prepared for taught me something more about myself and helped me take the correct direction, which I believe has shaped my work and my life in such a positive way.

When I competed in my first bikini competition I had just moved from my home country Turkey to Canada, and was getting used to the Canadian lifestyle — and, of course, the language too, which was the hardest part for me. I always wanted to do a fitness or bikini competition, but when I was still in Turkey the work and cultural differences made it so hard to do.

So I was in Vancouver BC, working at Steve Nash Fitness Club, and one of my co-workers, who was a competitor herself, asked me “why you are not competing?” I started asking myself and questioning if I could do it? I’d never done anything like it before… Maybe you’re asking yourself the same questions right now! Of course I told myself “absolutely, I can’’. And my competition journey began!

Each show that I competed in gave me more knowledge about my body, and how I can improve. Of course, it’s not easy to correctly identify what’s missing with training and nutrition, and this learning process and all of the experiences pushed me to learn more… I’ve been a personal trainer since 1993, but I wanted more and began my nutrition studies. I finished my Comprehensive Nutrition and Sports Nutrition degrees.

And yes, I am still competing! You can see a list of all of the competitions that I’ve competed in further down this page. And right now, AGAIN, I am getting ready for my next show…!

I’ll warn you right now, it wasn’t easy at all. The easiest part was the training, which was already part of my daily life. But posing, dieting, supplementation, getting a bikini, finding a trainer… This was much tougher, not the mention the cost for the registration, jewelry, tanning, hair and make-up, they cost a lot too. 

But I wouldn’t let anything stop me, and right after my first show — WBFF in May, 2011 — I immediately started looking for the next show to compete in. I was hooked!

I am so happy to be able to help other competitors who are willing to work and improve their mind and health at the same time. My goal is to create healthy and happy bikini competitors, who want to challenge themselves and put in the work that needs to be done to reach their goals. There is really no easy way to get there… But there is a smart way.

I look forward to working together and sharing my knowledge with YOU to get you in the best shape of your LIFE!!!!! 

AYDA HAS COMPETED IN

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