Collagen is a trendy topic in health and beauty circles thanks to benefits like enriching skin health and appearance. More and more people are looking for collagen products to supplement their body with this rich protein ingredient. According to many studies, your body can benefit from collagen much more than you might think. Taking collagen supplements could enhance your skin elasticity, promote heart, joint, and gut health, and boost your general wellness. Read on to find out more about those benefits and see how it works.
What is collagen and why do we need it?
You may have heard of different types of collagen, and no wonder – there could be up to 28 identified types. The most common collagen types are Type I, Type II, and Type III, which take up 80-90% of the collagen in the body. These are the types of collagen found in most collagen supplements because of the multiple health benefits they can add to your well-being.
Collagen works as the “glue” that holds your body together. It is the main protein in the body and consists of essential amino acids or peptides. These amino acids help to build and maintain your skin, hair, connective tissue, bone health, and more.
Your body produces collagen naturally. However, collagen production slows down as you age, leading to a possible shortage in the amount that is needed for normal functions. One sign of this shortage is the appearance of fine lines or wrinkles, which result from decreased skin elasticity. Your body produces 1% less collagen per year starting from the mid-20s and up to 30% in the first 5 years of menopause. Consuming foods or products that help to replenish collagen levels is essential for maintaining your general health and wellness.
Now let’s discover the top 7 potential health benefits of collagen supplements!
1/ Promotes a Healthy and Glowing Skin
This is the main benefit that many people taking collagen are aiming for. As collagen makes up about 75% of the skin’s mass, it plays a vital role in maintaining skin health. The natural aging process makes the skin less elastic as the collagen and elastin fibers become thicker and looser. This eventually leads to signs of skin aging in the form of wrinkles or sagging skin. According to research, supplementing your skin with collagen products can help to increase skin elasticity, hydration, and collagen density. Keeping your skin nurtured and hydrated with sufficient collagen can boost skin conditions by reducing wrinkles (*) and giving it a healthy, glowing appearance.
2/ Supports Healthy Joints
Because it acts as the “glue” that connects different parts of the body, collagen also promotes the production of cartilage – the rubbery material that protects your joints and helps them move with more ease. The glycine and proline amino acids in collagen can help support joint mobility and health.
With age, you may experience discomfort, stiffness, or a general lack of mobility, especially in cold weather or during the winter season. The inflammation in those areas can lead to the rapid breakdown of collagen in your joints. Providing your body with collagen supplements could help to alleviate joint discomfort while improving flexibility and mobility.
Moreover, collagen may help to ease joint aches that are caused by intense physical activities such as sports or exercise. Activities like running and weight-lifting place a lot of tension on the joints which can potentially cause damage to the cartilage and tendons. Research has found that hydrolyzed collagen supplements may help to relieve joint aches caused by high impact or high-stress activities by supporting joint health.
3/ Helps Maintain Your Bone Health
Collagen is an important component in bone formation. As mentioned above, the process of aging leads to the reduction in collagen and which also impacts our bones. As we age, collagen reduction may cause bone degradation – the loss of bone tissue and mineral content. This can lead to osteoporosis, a condition where bones are less dense and more fragile. Research suggests that collagen peptides may have positive effects on bone metabolism, helping to keep our bones strong and healthy. A clinical study claims that collagen supplements may also help to increase bone mineral density through bone formation and reducing bone loss.
4/ May Improve Heart Health
Collagen supplementation may help lower the risk of heart problems, according to a study. They claim that collagen helps to maintain the structure of the arteries – the blood vessels that deliver blood from the heart throughout the entire body. This reduces the risk of atherosclerosis, a condition that may potentially lead to heart attack and stroke. Atherosclerosis is caused by plaque buildup in the arteries, it narrows the blood vessels and prevents blood from traveling to other body parts.
5/ Balances Your Gut Health
Experiencing gut issues such as ‘leaky gut’ can negatively impact your health in many ways. Experiencing gut discomfort and aches on a regular basis not only impacts your mood but over time it may impact your immune system. Research suggests that people with persistent gut health issues such as IBS may have type IV collagen deficiency. This may be because collagen is part of the connective tissues that build up your intestinal wall. Collagen supplements may help balance the gut and support gut health.
6/ Promotes Healthy Hair and Nails
Aging can also take a toll on our hair and nails. As we age, our hair and nails are more likely to get thinner and more brittle. However, this can also result from a nutritional deficiency or other health-related issues. Experiencing hair loss can be really frustrating and stress often makes the condition even worse (as if you didn’t have enough to stress about already!). Supplying your body with sufficient collagen may help. Collagen plays a crucial role in maintaining good hair and nail condition. Collagen supplements may help in promoting hair growth and give a boost to brittle or broken nails.
7/ Improves Your General Wellness
Collagen consists of essential amino acids, so it can potentially benefit your overall wellness and health. You don’t need to experience specific issues like gut or joint discomfort to start taking collagen. Glycine, an amino acid in collagen, has many health benefits. For instance, it may help to improve metabolism and muscle mass. It may also support the detoxification process in your liver. If you need to get focused and energized in the morning, collagen powder mixed in a cup of hot coffee could be a great combination.
Foods sources of collagen
If you are looking for a dietary approach, here are some collagen-rich foods and foods that boost the collagen production in the body you can easily fit into your meal plans.
- Bone broth
- Fish, chicken, egg whites
- Citrus fruits, berries, avocados
- Red and yellow vegetables leafy greens, tomatoes, bell peppers
- Cashews, beans, soy
Keep in mind that consuming collagen-rich foods does not guarantee that collagen will be absorbed by your body right away. These foods only help to boost your body’s own collagen production.
Collagen cannot be easily broken down into amino acids and absorbed into the body system. Therefore, taking collagen supplements is the best alternative for faster, easier absorption. Collagen peptides or hydrolyzed collagen are forms of collagen that are already broken down into smaller chains of protein. They ensure direct absorption into the body, targeting different body parts such as skin, hair, nails, and the heart.
What are the side effects of taking collagen supplements?
Collagen supplements are generally safe for most people and rarely cause side effects. The potential side effects are typically not adverse and include leaving a bad taste in the mouth. Just pay attention to the sources of collagen since the ingredient could be an allergen. It is best to buy collagen supplements from third-party lab-tested providers to ensure getting the most benefits from those collagen products.
If you are interested in taking collagen, check out our recommendation of top collagen supplements here, or learn more about the differences between Collagen & Gelatin and which is best. Don’t forget to like and share this article if you think it’s helpful. Leave a comment to let us know your thoughts and experiences with collagen supplementation!