WHAT IS COLLAGEN.?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body.
You can increase your intake of collagen by taking supplements or eating animal foods and bone broth. However, absorption from food may not be as efficient as from supplements
It’s the main component of connective tissues that make up several body parts, including tendons, ligaments, skin, and muscles
There are 28 types of collagen, but here are the four most common
- Type I: the most common type, found in all connective tissue
- Type ll: found in joints and intervertebral discs (the cushions that serve as your spine’s shock absorbers)
- Type lll: the main component of reticular fibers, which are found in your skin and blood vessels
- Type lV: a component of your kidneys, inner ear, and eye lens.
1. May improve skin health
Collagen is a major component of your skin.
It plays a role in strengthening skin, as well as in elasticity and hydration. As you age, your body produces less collagen, leading to dry skin and the formation of wrinkles
However, several studies have shown that collagen peptides or supplements containing collagen may help slow the aging of your skin by reducing wrinkles and dryness.
One review of 11 studies focusing mostly on women found that taking 3–10 grams of collagen per day for an average of 69 days led to improvements in skin elasticity and hydration ).
These supplements may work by stimulating your body to produce on its own. Additionally, collagen supplements may promote the production of other proteins that help structure your skin, including elastin and fibrillin
There are also many anecdotal claims that collagen supplements help prevent acne and other skin conditions, but these aren’t supported by scientific evidence.
2. May relieve joint pain
Collagen helps maintain the integrity of your cartilage, the rubber-like tissue that protects your joints.
Some studies suggest that collagen supplements may help improve symptoms of osteoarthritis and reduce overall joint pain (8).
A review of five studies in more than 500 people with osteoarthritis found that taking about 10 grams of collagen daily for an average of 24 weeks led to significant improvements in joint stiffness and self-reported joint pain (9Trusted Source).
Researchers have theorized that supplemental collagen may accumulate in cartilage and stimulate your tissues to make collagen. In turn, this may lead to lower inflammation, better joint support, and reduced pain.
If you want to try collagen supplements for potential pain-relieving effects, most research suggests that you’ll see an effect with 10 grams per day (9Trusted Source).
3. May prevent bone loss
Just as the collagen in your body deteriorates with age, so does bone mass. This may lead to conditions such as osteoporosis, which is characterized by low bone density and a higher risk of bone fractures (11Trusted Source).
Studies note that collagen supplements may help inhibit the bone breakdown that leads to osteoporosis (8).
In a 12-month study, women took either a calcium supplement with 5 grams of collagen or a calcium supplement and no collagen daily.
At the study’s end, those taking the calcium and collagen supplement had significantly lower blood levels of proteins that promote bone breakdown than those who took only the calcium (12Trusted Source).
Another study found similar results in 66 women who took 5 grams of collagen daily for 12 months. Those who took the collagen exhibited an increase of up to 7% in their bone mineral density (BMD) compared with those who didn’t take collagen (13Trusted Source).
BMD is a measure of the density of minerals, such as calcium, in your bones. Low BMD is associated with weak bones and osteoporosis risk (13Trusted Source).
Although these results are promising, more human studies are needed.
4. May boost muscle mass
As the most abundant protein in the body, collagen is an important component of skeletal muscle (2Trusted Source).
Studies suggest that collagen supplements help boost muscle mass in people with sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass that happens with age.
In a 12-week study, 27 men with this condition took 15 grams of collagen while participating in a daily exercise program. Compared to men who exercised but didn’t take collagen, they gained significantly more muscle mass and strength (14Trusted Source).
Researchers have suggested that supplemental collagen may promote the synthesis of muscle proteins such as creatine, as well as stimulate muscle growth after exercise (14Trusted Source).
However, collagen protein isn’t more effective than whey protein for building muscle or strength. That’s because, unlike whey protein, collagen is low in essential amino acids — especially leucine — which play a key role in muscle building (15Trusted Source, 16Trusted Source).
More research is necessary to investigate collagen’s potential to boost muscle mass.
5. May promote heart health
Researchers have theorized that collagen supplements may help reduce the risk of heart conditions.
Collagen provides structure to your arteries, the blood vessels that carry blood from your heart to the rest of your body. Without enough collagen, arteries may become less flexible and elastic (1Trusted Source).
In a 6-month study, 31 healthy adults took 16 grams of collagen daily. They had experienced a significant reduction in measures of artery stiffness from the study’s beginning to its end (17Trusted Source).
Additionally, their levels of HDL (good) cholesterol rose by an average of 6%. HDL is an important factor in the risk of heart conditions, including atherosclerosis (17Trusted Source).
Nevertheless, more studies on collagen supplements and heart health are needed.
6. Other health benefits
Collagen supplements may have other health benefits, but these haven’t been studied extensively.
- Hair and nails. Taking collagen may increase the strength of your nails by preventing brittleness. Additionally, it may help your hair and nails grow longer (18Trusted Source).
- Gut health. Although no scientific evidence supports this claim, some health practitioners assert that collagen supplements can treat leaky gut syndrome, also called intestinal permeability.
- Brain health. No studies have examined the role of collagen supplements in brain health, but some people claim that they improve mood and reduce anxiety symptoms.
- Weight loss. Proponents believe that collagen supplements may promote weight loss and faster metabolism. However, no studies support these claims.
Although these potential effects are promising, more research is needed before formal conclusions can be made.
Collagen supplements are generally well tolerated, with few reported side effects.
However, some supplements are made from common food allergens, such as fish, shellfish, and eggs. People with allergies to these foods should avoid collagen supplements made with these ingredients.
Some people have also reported nausea and bloating when taking collagen supplements, but these effects weren’t directly related to the supplements (6Trusted Source).
Regardless, these supplements appear to be safe for most people.
Regardless, these supplements appear to be safe for most people.