Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body.
It is the major component of connective tissues that make up several body parts, including tendons, ligaments, skin and muscles
Collagen has many important functions, including providing your skin with structure 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 for you to absorb.
There are also several foods you can eat to increase your collagen intake, including pork skin and bone broth.
Consuming collagen may have a variety of health benefits, from relieving joint pain to improving skin health.
Collagen is a major component of your skin.
It plays a role in strengthening skin, plus may benefit 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 collegen peptides or supplements containing collagen may help slow the aging of your skin by reducing wrinkles and dryness
In one study, women who took a supplement containing 2.5–5 grams of collagen for eight weeks experienced less skin dryness and a significant increase in skin elasticity
compared to those who did not take the supplement
Another study found that women who drank a beverage mixed with a collagen supplement daily for 12 weeks experienced increased skin hydration and a significant reduction in wrinkle
depth compared to a control group
The wrinkle-reducing effects of collagen supplements have been attributed to their ability to stimulate your body to produce collagen on its own
Additionally, taking 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 are helpful for preventing acne and other skin conditions, but these are not supported by scientific evidence.
Collagen helps maintain the integrity of your cartilage, which is the rubber-like tissue that protects your joints.
As the amount of collagen in your body decreases as you get older, your risk of developing degenerative joint disorders such as osteoarthritis increases
Some studies have shown that taking collagen supplements may help improve symptoms of osteoarthritis and reduce joint pain overall
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 two grams of collagen daily for 70 days. Those who took collagen had a significant reduction in joint pain and were better able to engage
in physical activity than those who did not take it
Researchers have theorized that supplemental collagen may accumulate in cartilage and stimulate your tissues to make collagen.
They have suggested this may lead to lower inflammation, better support of your joints and reduced pain.
If you want to try taking a collagen supplement for its potential pain-relieving effects, studies suggest you should start with a dosage of 8–12 grams daily.
Your bones are made mostly of collagen, which gives them structure and helps keep them strong
As collagen in your body deteriorates as you age, bone mass does too. This may lead to conditions such as osteoporosis, which is characterized by low
bone density and linked with a higher risk of bone fractures.
Studies have shown that taking collagen supplements may have certain effects in the body that help inhibit the bone breakdown that leads to osteoporosis.
In one study, women took either a calcium supplement combined with 5 grams of collagen or a calcium supplement and no collagen daily for 12 months.
By 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 only the calcium.
Another study found similar results in 66 women who took 5 grams of collagen daily for 12 months.
The women who took the collagen had an increase of up to 7% in their bone mineral density (BMD), compared to women who did not consume collagen.
BMD is a measure of the amount of minerals, such as calcium, in your bones. Low BMD is associated with weak bones and the development of osteoporosis.
These results are promising, but more human studies are needed before the role of collagen supplements in bone health can be confirmed.
Between 1–10% of muscle tissue is composed of collagen. This protein is necessary to keep your muscles strong and functioning properly.
Studies suggest that collagen supplements help boost muscle mass in people with sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass that happens with age.
In one study, 27 frail men took 15 grams of collagen while participating in an exercise program daily 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 such as creatine, and may also stimulate muscle growth after exercise.
More research is necessary to investigate collagen’s potential to boost muscle mass.
Researchers have theorized that taking collagen supplements may help reduce the risk of heart-related 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 weak and fragile.
This may lead to atherosclerosis, a disease characterized by the narrowing of the arteries. Atherosclerosis has the potential to lead to heart attack and stroke.
In one study, 31 healthy adults took 16 grams of collagen daily for six months. By the end, they had experienced a significant reduction in measures of artery stiffness compared to before they started taking the supplement.
Additionally, they increased their levels of “good” HDL cholesterol by an average of 6%. HDL is an important factor in the risk of heart conditions, including atherosclerosis.
Nevertheless, more studies are needed on the role of collagen supplements in heart health.
Collagen supplements may have other health benefits, but these have not been studied extensively.
- Hair and nails: Taking collagen may increase the strength of your nails by preventing brittleness. Additionally, it may stimulate your hair and nails to grow longer.
- Gut health: Although there is no scientific evidence to support this claim, some health practitioners promote the use of collagen supplements to treat intestinal permeability, or leaky gut syndrome.
- Brain health: No studies have examined the role of collagen supplements in brain health. However, some people claim they improve mood and reduce symptoms of anxiety.
- Weight loss: Some believe that taking collagen supplements may promote weight loss and a faster metabolism. There have not been any studies to support these claims.
Collagen is found in the connective tissues of animals. Thus, foods such as 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 protein substance derived from collagen after it has been cooked.
More research is needed to determine if eating collagen-rich foods actually helps increase collagen in your body. There have not been any human studies on whether collagen-rich foods have the same benefits as supplements.
Collagen in food is broken down into individual amino acids and peptides by digestive enzymes.
The collagen in supplements has already been broken down, or hydrolyzed, which is why it is thought to be absorbed more efficiently than the collagen in foods
Currently, there are not many known risks to taking collagen supplements.
Taking collagen is associated with a number of health benefits and very few known risks.
For starters, supplements may improve skin health by reducing wrinkles and dryness. They may also help increase muscle mass, prevent bone loss and relieve joint pain.
People have reported many other benefits of collagen supplements, but these haven’t been studied much.
Although several foods contain collagen, it is unknown whether the collagen in food has the same benefits as supplements.
Collagen supplements are generally safe, quite easy to use and definitely worth trying for their potential benefits.