Top 8 Benefits of Collagen (2024)

Collagen is a key component in bones, skin, muscles, and other body parts. It may help improve skin health, relieve joint pain, and prevent bone loss, among other things.

Collagen is a protein. Your body makes it, and it’s important for healthy joints, skin, bones, muscles, and more. But as you age — just when it’s harder for your body to make collagen — the collagen you have begins to break down. So, you may be considering collagen supplements and wondering how much they really help.

Here are 9 science-backed health benefits of taking collagen.

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Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body. It’s the main component of connective tissues that make up several body parts, including tendons, ligaments, skin, and muscles. It has many important functions, including providing your skin with structure and strengthening your bones.

You can get collagen from foods like pork skin and bone broth, but collagen supplements have also become popular. Most are hydrolyzed, which means the collagen has been broken down to make it easier to absorb.

These supplements come primarily in powder form but are also available in capsules. The types of collagen found in supplements vary — some contain one or two types, while others contain up to five.

Summary

Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body. You can increase your intake of collagen by taking supplements or eating animal foods and bone broth. However, absorption from food may not be as efficient as from supplements.

Collagen supplementation provides a variety of health benefits.

1. May improve skin health

Collagen is a major component of your skin. It plays a role in strengthening skin, as well as in elasticity and hydration. As you age, your body produces less collagen, leading to dry skin and the formation of wrinkles.

Several studies have shown that collagen peptides or supplements containing collagen may help slow the aging of your skin by reducing wrinkles and dryness. One review of 26 studies focusing mostly on women found that taking 1–12 grams of collagen per day for 4–12 weeks led to improvements in skin elasticity and hydration.

These supplements may work by stimulating your body to produce collagen and 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 aren’t supported by scientific evidence.

Interested in collagen supplements for skin health?

Check out our roundup of the best collagen supplements.

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2. May relieve joint pain

As you age, the amount of collagen in your body decreases, and your risk increases for joint disorders such as osteoarthritis. Some studies suggest that collagen supplements may help improve symptoms of osteoarthritis and reduce overall joint pain.

A review of studies in people with osteoarthritis found that taking collagen led to significant improvements in joint stiffness but not pain or functional limitation.

Researchers suggest supplemental collagen may accumulate in cartilage and stimulate your tissues to make collagen which may lead to lower inflammation, better joint support, and reduced pain. But evidence is needed to recommend collagen as a treatment for osteoarthritis.

3. May prevent bone loss

Your bones are made mostly of collagen. As you age, collagen deteriorates, and your bone mass decreases. This may lead to conditions such as osteoporosis, which is characterized by low bone density and a higher risk of bone fractures.

Research suggests collagen supplements may help inhibit the bone breakdown that leads to osteoporosis.

In a 12-month study of postmenopausal women, some took a calcium and vitamin D supplement with 5 grams of collagen and others took a calcium and vitamin D supplement with no collagen daily.

Those taking the calcium, vitamin D, and collagen supplement had significantly lower blood levels of proteins that promote bone breakdown and less loss of mineral bone density than those who took only the calcium and vitamin D.

Another study found similar results in 66 postmenopausal women who took 5 grams of collagen daily for 12 months. Participants who took the collagen had an increase of up to 7% in their bone mineral density (BMD), a measure of the density of minerals in bones.

However, more human studies are needed.

4. May boost muscle mass

As the most abundant protein in the body, collagen is an important component of skeletal muscle.

In a 12-week study, 26 older men with sarcopenia took 15 grams of collagen while participating in an exercise program. Compared to men who exercised but didn’t take collagen, they gained significantly more muscle mass and strength.

However, more research is necessary to prove collagen’s potential to boost muscle mass.

5. May promote heart health

Researchers have theorized that collagen supplements may help reduce the risk of heart 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 less flexible and elastic, which may lead to atherosclerosis, a disease characterized by the narrowing of your arteries. This condition may cause heart attack and stroke.

In a 6-month study, 30 healthy adults took 16 grams of collagen daily. They had experienced a significant reduction in measures of artery stiffness from the study’s beginning to its end (18).

Additionally, their levels of HDL (good) cholesterol rose by an average of 6%. HDL is an important factor in the risk of heart conditions, including atherosclerosis, though more research is needed.

6. May improve gut health

Although no randomized controlled trials support this claim, some health professionals report that collagen supplements can treat leaky gut syndrome, also called intestinal permeability. Individuals report collagen helps, but research is needed.

7. May strengthen your hair and nails

Taking collagen may increase the strength of your nails. While more research is needed to support collagen’s effect on hair, people report that taking collagen may help your hair avoid breaking as easily.

8. May help maintain brain health

While no studies have examined the role of collagen supplements in brain health, some people claim that they improve mood and reduce anxiety symptoms.

9. May help support weight loss

Proponents believe that collagen supplements may promote weight loss and faster metabolism. However, no studies support these claims. Although these potential effects are promising, more research is needed before formal conclusions can be made.

While collagen supplements are generally well tolerated with few reported side effects, many are made from common food allergens, such as fish, shellfish, and eggs. People with allergies to these foods should avoid collagen supplements made with these ingredients.

Some people report nausea, bloating, and heartburn when taking collagen supplements, but research has not consistently shown these as side effects.

Collagen may be found in or derived from animal products. Foods that contain collagen include:

  • gelatin
  • bone broth
  • connective tissues of animals
  • chicken skin
  • pork skin
  • beef
  • fish

Vitamin C is crucial for collagen synthesis. There are many foods that are high in Vitamin C, like citrus fruits, broccoli, strawberries, and many others.

Because collagen’s amino acid composition differs from those of other proteins, the possible alternatives are limited. Vegan collagen can be made from genetically modified yeast and bacteria, which contain proteins similar to collagen. These are being investigated as potential collagen sources.

A nutritionally balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and plant-based protein foods may help boost the body’s production of collagen.

How long does it take to see results from collagen supplements?

Collagen turnover is a slow process. Most studies use a minimum of 8 weeks to assess collagen’s effects on skin health and joint pain relief, but other studies use longer periods, such as 12 months, for bone health.

Is it good to take collagen every day?

It’s probably fine to take supplements containing collagen daily, and few side effects have been reported.

Is collagen safe for your kidneys?

If you have kidney stones or are at risk for them, you may want to avoid collagen supplements. They contain an amino acid called hydroxyproline that is converted into oxalate in your body. Too much oxalate may lead to kidney stones.

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.

While other benefits may exist, most claims about weight loss, gut health, and brain health aren’t backed by research. Although several foods contain collagen, it’s unknown whether these foods offer the same benefits as supplements.

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Top 8 Benefits of Collagen (2024)
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