Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body.
It is a key component of connective tissues in several different parts of the body, including ligaments, skin, tendons, and muscles.
Collagen has many important functions like strengthening your bones and providing your skin with structure.
Recently, collagen supplements have become increasingly popular. Most ingestible collagen supplements are hydrolyzed, meaning the collagen has been broken down making it easier for your body to digest and absorb.
There are also several foods you can eat to increase your collagen levels, such as bone broth. In addition to this, consuming collagen supplements includes a variety of health and beauty benefits, from relieving joint pain to improving skin health.
This article will discuss six science-backed health and beauty benefits of taking collagen.
1. Collagen Can Improve Skin Health
Collagen is a key component of your skin.
It plays a vital role in strengthening skin, while boosting elasticity and hydration. As you age, your body produces less collagen, which can result in dry skin and the formation of wrinkles.
Though, several studies have shown that consuming collagen peptides or (collagen supplements) may work to slow the aging appearance of your skin by reducing wrinkles and dryness.
One study found that women who took a supplement containing 2.5 to 5 grams of collagen for 8 weeks experienced an increase in their skin elasticity and a decrease in their level of dry skin compared to those who did not take the collagen supplement.
Another study found that women who consumed a collagen supplement every day for 12 weeks experienced an increase in skin hydration and a major decrease in their wrinkles when compared with those who did not.
The wrinkle-reducing benefits of collagen supplements are due to their ability to encourage your body to produce collagen on its own.
Furthermore, taking collagen supplements work to produce other proteins in your body that aid in the structure of your skin, such as elastin and fibrillin.
Studies show that taking collagen supplements work to help slow aging and dryness in your skin.
2. Collagen Helps Relieve Joint Pain
Collagen helps maintain your cartilage, which is the tissue that protects, strengthens, and rebuilds your joints.
As you get older, the amount of collagen in your body decreases, which can increase your risk of developing degenerative joint disorders such as osteoarthritis.
Studies show that consuming collagen supplements may help improve symptoms of osteoarthritis and reduce overall joint pain.
In a study, adults who took 2 grams of collagen daily for 70 days revealed a significant reduction in joint pain, while better able to engage in physical activity, than those who did not take the collagen supplement.
In another study, 73 athletes who consumed 10 grams of collagen daily for 24 weeks showed a significant decrease in joint pain while walking and at rest, when compared with athletes who did not take collagen supplements.
Researchers have also discovered that taking collagen supplements stimulates your tissues to further create collagen.
They have suggested this may lead to lower inflammation in your body, greater support of your joints, and reduced joint pain as a result.
If you are looking to take collagen supplements for its potential joint pain-relieving effects, studies suggest you should start with a dose of 8 to 12 grams of collagen daily for best results.
Consuming collagen supplements is shown to reduce inflammation in the body and stimulate the creation of collagen in the body. This provides pain relief for people with joint pain or joint disorders like osteoarthritis.
3. Collagen Can Prevent Bone Loss
Similar to skin, your bones are also made mostly of collagen, providing structure and keeping them strong.
Much like how collagen levels in your body deteriorate with age, so does bone mass. This may lead to conditions like osteoporosis, which is characterized by low bone density and leads to a higher risk of bone fractures or breaks.
Several studies show that taking collagen supplements (collagen peptide supplements) can help work against the bone breakdown in the body that leads to osteoporosis.
In one study, one group of women who took either a calcium supplement combined with 5 grams of collagen and a second group of women or a calcium supplement without collagen daily for 12 months.
By the end of the study, the women who took the calcium and collagen supplement had significantly lower levels of bone mass loss compared to those who took the calcium only supplement.
Another study also found similar results in 66 women who took 5 grams of collagen daily for 12 months.
This study found that the women who took a collagen supplement showed an increase of 7% in their bone mineral density (BMD) when compared with women who did not take the collagen supplement.
Bone mineral density (BMD) is defined as the measure of the density of minerals, such as calcium, in your bones. Low levels of BMD are associated with weak bones and may lead to the development of osteoporosis.
Taking collagen supplements help reduce the risk of bone disorders like osteoporosis. They also help increase bone mineral density and lower levels of proteins that cause bone breakdown in the body.
4. Collagen Improves Muscle Mass
Between 1–10% of muscle tissue is made of collagen. Meaning, collagen is a necessary protein that keeps your muscles strong and functioning properly.
Studies have found that collagen supplements help boost muscle mass in people with sarcopenia, which is the loss of muscle mass due to aging.
In a study, 27 men took 15 grams of a collagen supplement, while participating in daily exercise for 12 weeks. Those who took a collagen supplement paired with daily exercise gained significantly more muscle mass and strength, compared to those who exercised but did not take a collagen supplement.
Researchers have also suggested that taking collagen supplements promotes the creation of muscle proteins such as creatine, as well as stimulating muscle growth after exercise.
Research shows consuming collagen supplements increases muscle growth and strength, especially in people with age-related muscle mass loss.
5. Collagen Promotes Heart Health
Researchers have found that taking collagen supplements help in reducing the risk of heart-related conditions.
Collagen provides structure to your arteries, which are the vessels that carry blood from your heart to your body. Without enough collagen, arteries may become weak and fragile, restricting your blood flow.
This may lead to atherosclerosis, a disease defined as the narrowing of the arteries. Atherosclerosis has the potential to also lead to heart attack and stroke.
In a study, 31 healthy adults took 16 grams of a collagen supplement daily for 6 months. The results show they had experienced a significant reduction in artery stiffness, compared to before they started taking the collagen supplement.
Additionally, the same individuals who took a collagen supplement daily also increased their levels of HDL “good” cholesterol by an average of 6%. HDL is an important factor in the risk of heart conditions, such as atherosclerosis.
Consuming collagen supplements reduces risks associated with heart conditions such as atherosclerosis. Collagen supplements may also help increase levels of HDL cholesterol.
6. Other Health Benefits of Collagen
Collagen supplements also have other health benefits, such as hair, nails, gut and brain health, and weight loss.
– Hair and nails: Taking collagen supplements increases the strength of your nails by preventing brittleness. Collagen also helps stimulate your hair and nails to grow longer.
– Gut health: Some health practitioners promote the use of collagen supplements to further treat leaky gut syndrome or intestinal permeability. Maintaining good gut health also may improve your immune health.
– Brain health: Supplementing collagen can may improve mood and reduce symptoms of anxiety.
– Weight loss: Taking collagen supplements also may promote weight loss and a faster metabolism.
Collagen supplements may promote weight loss, boost metabolism, and improve brain, heart, gut, hair and nail health.
Foods that Contain Collagen
Collagen outside of the human body is found in the connective tissues of animals. Foods like chicken, beef, and fish skin are all sources of collagen.
Foods that contain gelatin, such as bone broth, also provide collagen. Gelatin is the protein substance derived from collagen after it has been cooked.
While more research is needed to determine whether eating collagen-rich foods alone helps increase collagen in your body, individuals have been doing it for centuries for its health benefits.
In the body, digestive enzymes work to break down the collagen in food into individual amino
acids and peptides.
However, collagen supplements have already been broken down, what is called ‘hydrolyzed collagen peptides’, which make collagen supplements more easily absorbed and efficiently than collagen found in food sources.
Several foods contain collagen, however the absorption is not as efficient as taking hydrolyzed collagen supplements.
Side Effects of Collagen
Currently, there are not many known or proven risks with taking collagen supplements.
However, some collagen supplements are made from common food allergens, such as fish, shellfish, and eggs. People with allergies to these foods should avoid consuming collagen supplements made with these ingredients to prevent allergic reaction, and take collagen supplements sourced from beef or chicken instead.
Some people have also reported that collagen supplements leave a lingering bad taste in their mouth when taking a collagen of lower quality.
Overall, collagen supplements are deemed safe by the FDA and proven to be both safe and effective for most people.
Collagen supplements are proven to be safe and effective for most people. If you have food allergies, make sure to take collagen supplements that aren’t made from sources you’re allergic to.
Taking collagen is associated with a great number of health and beauty benefits, with very few known side effects.
Collagen supplements improve skin health by reducing wrinkles and dryness, while also working to increase muscle mass, prevent bone loss, and relieve joint pain.
People have also reported many other benefits of collagen supplements in addition to the above proved benefits.
Although several foods contain collagen, collagen in food does not offer the same benefits and effectiveness as taking collagen supplements.
Collagen supplements are safe, easy to use, and definitely worth trying for its many benefits.