From gut and skin to bone health and much more, collagen plays a crucial role in connective tissues that make up quite a few body parts. Because of this protein’s importance for the body, collagen supplementation has become very popular in the past few years.
Most collagen supplements are hydrolyzed, meaning the collagen has already been broken down, making it easy to absorb.
While collagen supplements are the best way to increase your intake of this protein, it’s also present in several foods, such as bone broth and pork skin.
Consuming collagen can provide a range of health benefits, such as improving skin and bone health, and relieving joint pain.
While many people are skeptical about taking this health supplement, there’s been plenty of research done that supports its benefits.
Benefits of Collagen
1. Improving Skin Health
The reason collagen is the most popular product in the health supplement range you can find at skincare stores is that it strengthens the skin and it helps with hydration and elasticity.
As we age, our bodies produce less collagen, which leads to wrinkle formation and dry skin. As a result, collagen directly plays a major role in slowing down the aging of your skin.
People taking 3-5g of this health supplement experienced a drastic improvement in skin elasticity and hydration compared to those who don’t take it.
Additionally, collagen supplementation can promote the production of other proteins, such as fibrillin and elastic, both of which help structure the skin.
It’s also believed that collagen supplements can prevent skin conditions and acne, but there’s not enough scientific evidence to confirm this claim.
2. Relieving Joint Pain
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There’s a rubber-like tissue that’s responsible for protecting your joints known as cartilage, and collagen helps maintain its integrity.
As aforementioned, the amount of collagen the body produces is reduced as we age, which is why many elderly people experience joint pain and the risks of developing degenerative joint disorders increases.
Studies show that collagen supplementation can reduce joint pain and help improve symptoms of degenerative joint disorders like osteoarthritis.
That being said, collagen supplementation can also be beneficial to athletes and people who want to partake in physical activities but just can’t due to joint pain. Taking about 10g of collagen supplementation can also lead to lower inflammation.
3. Preventing Bone Loss
Did you know that bones are mostly made up of collagen?
Collagen is responsible for keeping your bones strong and providing the structure. As the collagen levels in your body are reduced with age, bone mass is reduced as well. This can lead to conditions related to low bone density, and you become more prone to bone fractures.
Collagen supplementation helps inhibit bone breakdown, increases bone mineral density, and reduce the levels of proteins that promote bone breakdown. Low bone mineral density is linked to the development of osteoporosis and weak bones.
4. Boosting Muscle Mass
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About a tenth of all muscle tissue is made up of collagen, making it an important part of keeping muscles functioning properly and strong.
Collagen supplementation can help increase the muscle mass in people with sarcopenia, a condition that about 10% of people over 50 experience. Taking 15g of this health supplement a day can significantly increase the muscle mass and strength built through workouts.
Studies suggest that collagen supplementation can stimulate muscle growth and promote the synthesis of muscle proteins, similar to the most popular bodybuilding supplements.
5. Promoting Heart Health
Collagen is shown to provide structure to the arteries – the blood vessels that carry blood from the heart to the rest of the body.
If you’re collagen deficient, your arteries can become weak and fragile, leading to atherosclerosis, a condition characterized by the narrowing of the arteries. This can lead to heart strokes and heart attacks.
Taking collagen supplementation can lead to a drastic reduction in artery stiffness, and increased levels of good cholesterol (HDL), which plays a major role in reducing the risk of heart conditions.
6. Foods Containing Collagen
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The connective tissues of animals contain collagen. That being said, foods like pork skin, beef, chicken skin, and fish are sources of protein. Further, foods that contain gelatin also provide collagen.
Gelatin is derived from collagen after it’s been cooked. However, eating collagen-rich foods doesn’t necessarily help increase the collagen levels in your body.
Supplementation, on the other hand, provides already broken down collagen, which is absorbed more efficiently than the collagen found in the aforementioned foods.
Potential Side Effects of Collagen
There aren’t many known risks related to taking collagen supplements. However, some collagen supplements are made from food allergens like fish, eggs, and shellfish, so people who are allergic to these foods should avoid collagen supplements derived from these ingredients.
For most people, the worst side effect of taking collagen supplementation is the lingering bad taste in the mouth. And just like every other supplement, collagen can have potential digestive side effects.
Regardless, collagen supplements are deemed safe for most people, as long as they’re taken responsibly and safely.
The Best Way to Absorb Collagen
Collagen is a huge molecule, so absorbing it can be tricky for the body. Smaller peptides have an easier time passing through our intestinal barriers and into our bloodstream.
Luckily, our body can utilize absorbed collagen in the areas that need it the most. Keep in mind that just like with any other fad, wellness and beauty companies jump on the collagen hype-train very quickly, manufacturing pills, liquids, topical creams, and powders that promise to improve your skin, strengthen your bones, and whatnot.
Powder collagen health supplements are the most popular, as they’re the easiest to add to your drinks.
It’s recommended that you always follow the directions on the collagen supplement you bought, as no two supplements are made the same.
Avoid topical collagen supplements, as collagen is produced in the dermis, which is the deeper level of the skin, so it’s difficult for topical creams to reach where they need to.
The Bottom Line
Collagen supplementation is linked to a number of health benefits, and there aren’t any harmful risks, except potential allergic reactions from products containing foods that some people are allergic to.
Taking collagen supplementation can improve skin health, increase muscle mass, relieve joint pain, and prevent bone loss. Some people report other benefits as well, but there haven’t been scientific studies that back them up.
Even though many foods contain collagen, it’s not certain whether the collagen from foods provides the same benefits as supplements.
Collagen supplements are easy to use, safe, and are definitely worth giving a try if you are collagen deficient.
Do your due diligence when choosing collagen supplement products, and always follow the instructions that come with them.
About The Author:
Somenath Kanjilal is the founder of BlogDiver and Digital Marketer. He is a contributor to many sites. He loves to share his knowledge with other marketers.