There has been a surge in the popularity of collagen products lately, mostly powders, capsules, and liquids. These products claim to improve the appearance of aging skin, relieve joint pain, and even increase metabolism.
I am seeing more and more advertisements for new brands daily. But are these products really doing the things they promise?
I was skeptical at first, but after reviewing studies and waiting to see results, I believe the products are worth the hype and deserve a place in your skincare and joint health routine.
What is Collagen Protein?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies and is the “glue” that holds your body together. It makes up about one-third of the protein in your body, research shows.
Your body produces less collagen starting in your thirties and forties. Collagen peptides added to your diet may serve to replace what your body begins to lack as you age, and support your overall health.
Collagen is found in muscles, bones, skin, blood vessels, digestive system and tendons. Collagen benefits are so striking because this protein is what helps give our skin strength and elasticity, along with replacing dead skin cells.
And when it comes to our joints and tendons, collagen allows us to glide and move without pain due to it's gel-like structure.
Sadly, our body’s collagen production naturally begins to slow down as we age. We can thank this degenerative process for signs of aging, such as wrinkles, sagging skin and joint pains due to weaker or decreased cartilage.
Other lifestyle factors such as eating a diet high in sugar, excessive alcohol consumption, smoking and high amounts of sun exposure can also contribute to depleting collagen levels.
What Are The Benefits Of Collagen Protein
Improves Health of Skin and Hair
Improving skin and hair health is considered the most well-researched benefit of taking a collagen supplement. As we age, collagen production declines. It is evident with the physical signs of looser skin, more wrinkles and less elasticity.
Increasing collagen levels can help your skin look firmer, increase smoothness, and help your skin cells keep renewing and repairing normally.
How Does Collagen Protein Help Improve Skin?
Collagen helps smooth wrinkles and boost elasticity in our skin. Supplementing with collagen is shown to improve skin elasticity and improve how it holds moisture.
It also is shown to increase the density of collagen fibers within skin. As little as 10 grams per day can promote a more youthful appearance
Collagen May Help Lessen Joint Aches and Pains
Evidence shows that collagen can be great for supporting connective tissues and improving joint pain.
One study published in January 2017 in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism found that athletes with knee pain who took 5 g of collagen peptides daily for 12 weeks had less joint pain during exercise compared with a placebo group.
Oral collagen may support cartilage repair and may also have an anti-inflammatory effect. When we lose collagen, our tendons and ligaments start moving with less ease, leading to stiffness, swollen joints and more.
Think of ingesting more collagen like greasing a creaky door hinge: It helps your joints move more easily, reduces pain often associated with aging and even reduces the risk of joint deterioration.
Improves Gut Health
Collagen is an excellent supplement to improve gut health. There are a few major benefits of collagen when it comes to your gut: it aids in digestion, helps repair the gut lining, and helps heal leaky gut and IBS.
Taking a collagen supplement can potentially help boost your natural collagen production and promote healing in the gut wall.
It's important to take a supplement that contains either hydrolyzed collagen or collagen peptides. This means the collagen has been broken down into very small particles, making it easy for your stomach to absorb and digest.
Peptides Can Keep Bones Healthy
Bone mineral density decreases as you age, especially after menopause, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation.
In a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial on 102 post-menopausal women, participants who took collagen peptides for one year increased their bone mineral density compared with the control group.
Can Collagen Protein Help You Lose Weight?
Collagen boosts metabolism, muscle mass and energy output, so a boost in collagen may help increase your metabolism by adding lean muscle mass to your frame and helping with the conversion of essential nutrients.
Can Collagen Protein Build Muscle?
Collagen is also a major part of your muscle tissue. In fact, it's the most abundant protein in your body. So if you're looking to build muscle mass, collagen supplements might help.
There is promising evidence that adding collagen to your diet can help support muscle-building efforts. Arginine and glycine, two of the amino acids found in collagen, are used to make creatine.
Creatine plays a role in building muscle mass and strength. More research is needed to see if creatinine concentration in muscle tissue changes with collagen supplementation.
Several studies have found taking a collagen peptide supplement in combination with regular resistance training improves muscle mass and strength.
A study of 53 older men with sarcopenia, or the natural loss of muscle mass that occurs with aging, were given collagen supplements while participating in 12 weeks of strength training.
Those who took collagen had significantly greater gains in muscle and strength and lost more body fat compared to the placebo group.
Similar results were found in studies involving young men and premenopausal women. The groups that took a collagen supplement gained more fat-free muscle mass and strength than the placebo groups following 12 weeks of resistance training.
How can you preserve the natural collagen you have left?
Protecting yourself from the sun is one of the most effective ways. Wear natural, chemical free sunscreen consistently and protective clothing. Avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption as they create similar skin damage.
Stay VERY hydrated and eat a protein and antioxidant-rich diet that will help as amino acids found in protein aid collagen production.
When Should We Supplement With Collagen?
So, do we necessarily need collagen supplements to make sure we’re getting enough collagen in our diet? Well, the research says, yes! The collagen in food isn’t well digested or absorbed by the body, so you’d have to eat massive quantities of these foods to get enough collagen.
When it comes to choosing a collagen supplement, you’ll want to consider which form is best for you, for example powder, capsules, or liquid.
While some supplements may contain only one or two types of collagen, other collagen products may offer a blend of several different types. This is the liquid collagen supplement that I use and recommend to my patients.
Collagen supplements are associated with several health benefits and very few known risks.
Supplements may increase muscle mass, prevent bone loss, relieve joint pain, and improve skin health by reducing wrinkles and dryness.
Although several foods contain collagen, it’s unknown whether these foods offer the same benefits as supplements.
Collagen supplements are generally safe, easy to use, and worth trying based on your health goals.
Best Of Health,
Hi, I'm Dr. Angela Walk...
I have been involved in the health and wellness industry for over 20 years as a wellness physician and holistic nutrition coach.
I have written extensively for health publications and I am keenly aware of trends and new developments. I embrace an active lifestyle combining diet, exercise and healthy choices.
My goal is to inform my readers of the natural options available to them in hopes of improving their health and quality of life.