Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body.
It is the main component of connective tissues that make up many parts of the body, including tendons, ligaments, skin, and muscles .
Collagen has many important functions, including structuring your skin and strengthening your bones .
In recent years, collagen supplements have become popular. Most are hydrolyzed, which means the collagen has been broken down, making it easier to absorb.
There are also several foods you can eat to increase your collagen intake .
Consuming collagen may have a variety of health benefits , from relieving joint pain to improving skin health .
This article will discuss 6 scientifically backed health benefits of taking collagen .
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1. Collagen improves skin health
Collagen is a major component of your skin.
It plays a role in strengthening the skin and can benefit elasticity and hydration. As you age, your body produces less collagen, which leads to dry skin and the formation of wrinkles .
However, several studies have shown that collagen peptides or supplements containing collagen can help slow down the aging of your skin . reducing wrinkles and dryness .
In one study, women who took a supplement containing 2.5 to 5 grams of collagen for 8 weeks experienced less skin dryness and a significant increase in skin elasticity compared to those who did not. the supplement .
Another study found that women who drank a drink mixed with a collagen supplement daily for 12 weeks had increased skin hydration and a significant reduction in wrinkle depth compared to a control group .
The anti-wrinkle effects of collagen supplements have been attributed to their ability to stimulate your body to produce alone of collagen .
Additionally, taking collagen supplements can 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 are not supported by scientific evidence.
2. Collagen helps relieve joint pain
Collagen helps maintain the integrity of your cartilage , which is the rubbery tissue that protects your joints.
As the amount of collagen in your body decreases with age, your risk of developing degenerative joint disorders such as osteoarthritis increases .
Some studies have shown that taking collagen supplements can help improve symptoms of osteoarthritis and reduce joint pain in general .
In one study, 73 athletes who consumed 10 grams of collagen daily for 24 weeks experienced a significant decrease in joint pain while walking and at rest, compared to a group that did not take it .
In another study, adults took 2 grams of collagen daily for 70 days. Those who took collagen had a significant reduction in joint pain and were better able to perform physical activity than those who did not .
Researchers have hypothesized that the extra collagen can build up in cartilage and stimulate your tissues to make collagen.
They suggested it may lead to less inflammation, better support for your joints, and reduced pain .
3. Collagen prevents bone loss
Your bones are mostly made up of collagen, which gives them structure and helps them to stay strong .
Just as collagen in your body deteriorates with age, so does bone mass. This can lead to conditions such as osteoporosis, characterized by low bone density and linked to a higher risk of bone fractures .
Studies have shown that taking collagen supplements can have certain effects on the body that help inhibit bone breakdown that leads to osteoporosis .
In one study, women took a calcium supplement combined with 5 grams of collagen or a calcium supplement and no collagen daily for 12 months.
At the end of the study, the women taking the calcium and collagen supplement had significantly lower blood levels of proteins that promote bone breakdown than those taking the calcium alone .
Another study found similar results in 66 women who took 5 grams of collagen daily for 12 months.
Women who took the collagen showed an increase of up to 7% in their bone mineral density (BMD), compared to women who did not consume the collagen .
BMD is a measure of the density of minerals, like calcium, in your bones. Low BMD is associated with bone weakness and the development of osteoporosis.
4. Collagen can increase muscle mass
Between 1 and 10% of muscle tissue is made up of collagen. This protein is needed to keep your muscles strong and functioning properly .
Studies suggest that collagen supplements help increase muscle mass in people with sarcopenia , the loss of muscle mass that occurs with age .
In one study, 27 frail men took 15 grams of collagen while participating in a daily exercise program for 12 weeks. Compared to men who exercised but did not take collagen, they gained significantly more muscle mass and strength .
Researchers have suggested that taking collagen may promote the synthesis of muscle proteins like creatine, as well as stimulate muscle growth after exercise .
Further research is needed to investigate the potential of collagen to increase muscle mass .
5. Collagen promotes heart health
Researchers have hypothesized that taking collagen supplements may help reduce the risk of heart disease .
Collagen structures your arteries, which are the blood vessels that carry blood from your heart to the rest of your body. Without enough collagen, the arteries can become weak and fragile .
This can lead to atherosclerosis, a disease characterized by narrowing of the arteries. Atherosclerosis can lead to heart attack and strokes .
In one study, 31 healthy adults took 16 grams of collagen daily for 6 months. By the end, they had experienced a significant reduction in arterial stiffness measurements, compared to before they started taking the supplement .
Additionally, they increased their “good” HDL cholesterol levels by an average of 6%. HDL is an important risk factor for heart disease, including atherosclerosis .
Nevertheless, other studies on the role of collagen supplements in heart health are necessary.
6. Other Health Benefits of Collagen
Collagen supplements may have other health benefits, but these have not been studied extensively.
- Hair and nails. Taking collagen can increase the strength of your nails by preventing brittleness. Plus, it can boost your hair and your nails to grow longer .
- Intestinal health. Although there is no scientific evidence to support this claim, some health practitioners promote the use of collagen supplements to treat leaky gut or leaky gut syndrome .
- Brain health. No studies have examined the role of collagen supplements in brain health. However, some people claim it improves mood and reduces symptoms of anxiety.
- Weightloss. Some believe that taking collagen supplements can promote weight loss and faster metabolism . There have been no studies to back up these claims.
While these potential effects are promising, more research is needed before any formal conclusions can be drawn.
What foods contain collagen?
Collagen is found in the connective tissues of animals. Thus, foods like chicken skin, pork skin, beef, and fish are sources of collagen .
Foods that contain gelatin, such as bone broth, also provide collagen. gelatin is a proteinaceous substance derived from collagen after it is cooked .
Further research is needed to determine whether consuming collagen -rich foods contribute to increase collagen in your body. There have been no human studies on whether collagen-rich foods have the same benefits as supplements.
Digestive enzymes break down the collagen in food into individual amino acids and peptides.
However, the collagen in supplements has already been broken down or hydrolyzed, so it is thought to be absorbed more efficiently than collagen in food.