Diet

HEALTH: You will get all of the collagen you want out of your weight loss plan – Rockdale Newton Citizen

D.OHR DR. PLÖTZE: What Exactly is Collagen and Why Do I See So Many Ads Supporting Its Use as a Youth Supplement?

REPLY: Collagen is a structural protein found in skin, bones, tendons, and ligaments. Collagen is constantly being broken down and replaced by the cells in the body's connective tissue. We need adequate nutrition and the amino acids necessary to rebuild collagen.

I don't believe in collagen supplements, however. You get the amino acids you need from a healthy general diet. Collagen supplements are quickly broken down into their constituent amino acids in the stomach and intestines, so the collagen you ingest cannot easily be absorbed into your body. It needs to be dismantled and rebuilt. What is currently referred to as "bone broth" – or what our parents' generation calls "inventory" – is a much cheaper and more effective way to increase your collagen intake.

Vegans should take care to get the critical amino acids in collagen. Beans and asparagus are a great way to get the amino acid proline, which is low in many plant sources and necessary for collagen structure.

DEAR DOCTOR. ROACH: My father died at the age of 76 and his father at the age of 46 of pneumonia. When the first vaccine came out, I got the shot. But I had a bad reaction. My left arm at the site of the injection swelled and became very infected. I could barely raise my arm for several days. It finally went away. A decade later, I want to get the new two-dose vaccine, but my doctor says this is not a good idea at first given my side effects. Would I continue to jeopardize and endanger myself if I got it anyway?

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REPLY: Local reactions to vaccines are not uncommon and usually not dangerous. It is worse than usual if you cannot raise your arm for several days. So I understand why your doctor is concerned. However, you have a point about a possible familial susceptibility to pneumonia and an understandable natural desire to receive as much protection as possible.

There are many types of pneumonia, and the vaccines only protect against the most common, Streptococcus pneumoniae, also called pneumococci.

As always, you need to consider the risks and benefits of the procedure and make a decision about the balance sheet. The risk is a different local reaction. I think this risk is lower than you might think as the new vaccine (the 13-valent two-dose pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, Prevnar) is significantly different from the old 23-valent single-dose pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine, Pneumovax, differs. They stimulate the immune system in different ways and you may not have the same strong local response.

I would also be careful if the person injecting the vaccine uses an appropriately sized needle and injects it to the correct depth. A needle in the wrong place or inserted too deeply can inject the vaccine into a bursa of the shoulder, resulting in vaccine-related injuries (SIRVA) that are often undetected.

Go back to your primary care doctor and say when you decide you are ready to take the risk of a local reaction. If you get a bad reaction to the first shot, don't take the second.

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Dr. Roach regrets that he cannot answer individual letters but will include them in the column if possible. Readers can email questions to ToYourGoodHealth@med.cornell.edu or email 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803.

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