Quickly and recently, amino acids have become big business. Whether you’re shopping for a collagen supplement, a bone broth, or even meat and dairy foods, the different amino acids that make up these proteins are what you’re buying and ingesting, says Mark Moyad, MD, director of preventative and alternative medicine at the University of Michigan.
Your body uses amino acids to build muscle, bone, cartilage, skin, hair, connective tissue, and a lot else. There are many different types of amino acids, but the type found in collagen are the most abundant in your body thanks to the role they play in forming your connective tissues and skin.
When you consider that your body’s collagen production declines as you age, and that adequate collagen is needed for strong bones, joints, and skin, it seems like adding collagen to your diet is a no-brainer. That’s why many supplement makers have started selling collagen powders and pills, which Moyad says are made mostly from “animal parts”—usually bones or skin of cows, or scales of fish. (Vegans, take note.)
But do these supplements really do anything? Here’s what you need to know.
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