Top 5 Health Benefits of Taking Collagen Supplements
Discover the health benefits of collagen and how it can help your skin, muscles, joints and more.
You may already be familiar with collagen and the benefits it has for your skin’s beauty and vitality. However, did you know that it can also help improve other areas of your health, including your bones, joints, and muscles?
Collagen supplements have become popular in recent years because of the several health benefits they offer. The question is, what really is collagen and what can it do for your body?
Read on to learn more about collagen and the health benefits that you can gain from taking a daily collagen supplement.
What is collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein found in our bodies. It comprises of over one-third of the body’s protein content and is the major component to different parts of our body such as our skin, muscles, bones, hair and even our digestive system.
It is responsible for a number of important biological functions, including providing structural support to our skin and strengthening our bones.
Collagen is the most important building block of our body making up at least 70% of our cartilage, 90% of our tendons and ligaments and 30% of our bones.
More than that, collagen also promotes hair growth and helps repair body tissue. No wonder it is hailed by many as the “Youth Protein.”
What causes the loss of collagen?
Our bodies naturally create collagen but as we age, the production of this essential protein slows down and gradually declines. As a result, the collagen in our tissues deteriorate.
Every year on average, our collagen levels decline by 1%. The noticeable changes can start as early as our 30s. The skin starts to lose its ability to bounce back which leads to skin sagging and wrinkling.
Apart from the changes in our skin, collagen decline also weakens the structure of our ligaments and bones, reduces the volume of our muscles and redistributes our fat. All of these factors contribute considerably to significant and visible changes in our appearance.
Aside from aging, other environmental and lifestyle factors can also deplete the levels of collagen in our bodies. Contributing factors include:
- A high-sugar diet. Too much sugar consumption boosts the rate of glycation which forms molecules called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). These molecules damage collagen rendering them incapable of repairing the skin.
- Smoking. Research shows that people who smoke tobacco produce less collagen than those who do not. Aside from that, tobacco smoke contains toxins that damage elastin and collagen present in our skin. This results in early facial wrinkling, sagging skin, overall dryness and decreased wound healing.
- Excessive sun exposure. Prolonged exposure to UV rays from the sun damages collagen fibers and prevents the formation of new ones. Overexposure to the sun is the number one factor that causes premature skin aging.
- Nutrient deficiency. Low intake of nutrients needed in the synthesis of collagen can lead to collagen deficiency. We need Vitamin C and amino acids to form collagen. Not having these in your regular diet may result in lower collagen levels.
- Pollution. Air in highly polluted areas can contain particulate matters that break down our collagen levels. These particulate matters can be absorbed through the lungs and our pores. Excessive exposure can hinder skin regeneration.
How can I combat collagen loss?
The good news is that you can still fend off collagen loss that comes as a result of these natural and external circumstances.
Aside from drinking lots of water and limiting your sun exposure, the key to maintaining healthy collagen levels is by getting the proper nutrition.
Certain foods such as bone broth and pig skin contain high amounts of collagen that can boost your body’s collagen levels. Vitamin C from citrus fruits and vegetables also aid in the formation of collagen.
As an alternative to collagen-rich foods, people often turn to collagen supplements to help increase their collagen levels.
A 2015 study showed that taking daily supplements that boost the growth of collagen can help achieve a firmer and more youthful complexion. It helps combat the negative effects associated with aging including sagging, loose skin.
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Want to know more about the benefits of taking collagen supplements? Read on to find out the top five benefits of having collagen in your regular diet.
1. Reduces wrinkles and fine lines
Collagen is a major component of our skin. It gives structure to our skin cells by providing skin with elasticity and strength. Since we produce less collagen as we age, our skin loses its firm and taut structure which causes signs of aging in the form of sagging, wrinkles and fine lines.
A daily collagen supplement can help combat these signs of aging. Several studies show that collagen helps slow down the appearance of skin aging by effectively reducing wrinkles and dryness.
One study observed women aged 35 to 55, to see how oral intake of collagen would affect their skin health. One group took a daily collagen supplement for eight weeks and results showed a noticeable improvement in skin elasticity compared to those who did not take collagen.
Another study also found that oral supplements with high collagen content improved skin hydration, elasticity, smoothness, and wrinkles in comparison to those who took supplements with lesser collagen compound and the placebo.
The anti-aging effects of collagen supplements are mostly due to their capacity to boost the body’s ability to produce more collagen on its own. Aside from that, it also promotes the synthesis of elastin and fibrillin — other proteins important for skin health.
2. Improves nail strength
Regular collagen intake may help strengthen your nails. A 2017 study observed 25 participants who took a dose of a collagen supplement each day for 24 weeks. It was found that there was a 12% increase in nail growth, 42% drop in nail breakage and a 64% overall improvement in brittle nails. This shows that collagen helps fortify the nails and minimizes brittleness, peeling, splitting and breakage.
Even more impressive, 88% of the participants reported that they observed these positive results in as little as four weeks.
3. Boosts muscle growth
Collagen makes up at least 1-10% of our muscle mass. This is why it is an important protein needed to keep muscles strong and functioning properly.
In fact, daily collagen supplements, in combination with strength training, have been shown to increase muscle strength, aid in muscle repair, prevent muscular disorders and improve the overall efficacy of the strength exercises.
Numerous studies have found that taking collagen supplements along with resistance training significantly increased muscle mass and muscle strength while lowering fat mass.
A research involving 27 elderly men were given a daily collagen supplement while participating in an exercise program daily for 12 weeks. These men gained more muscle mass and strength in comparison to those who exercised but did not take collagen. This suggests that collagen supplements, along with exercise, help combat sarcopenia — the loss of muscle mass that occurs as we age.
Another study discovered that lack of collagen impairs the regeneration of muscles, reducing the ability of the cells to rejuvenate after injury. Genetic mutations that prevent the formation of a certain type of collagen have also been found to cause muscle atrophy disorders.
4. Eases joint pain
Collagen plays an important role in joint health by maintaining the structural integrity of cartilage — the rubber-like tissue that protects our joints. However, as we get older, the amount of collagen in our body decreases and the spongy cartilage of the joints start to wear away. This increases our risk of developing degenerative joint disorders.
If you are experiencing joint pains, taking a daily collagen supplement may be able to provide natural relief.
A research study observed 73 athletes who took daily collagen supplementation for 24 weeks. They reported a significant decrease in joint pain compared to a group that did not take it. In another study, a group of adults took collagen for 70 days. They experienced a significant reduction in joint pain and were better able to engage in physical activity than those who did not take it.
Collagen can help decrease inflammation in your joints to reduce pain and boost collagen synthesis for an overall improvement in joint health.
5. Prevents bone loss
Our bones are composed of a significant amount of collagen that helps keep them strong.
As collagen production decreases with age, bone mass becomes directly affected. This leads to conditions like osteoporosis, a disease in which the bones become more porous and are at greater risk of becoming fractured.
It is estimated that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men aged fifty years and above are more at risk of an osteoporotic fracture because of the significant decline in bone mass. In fact, a fracture due to osteoporosis - which most commonly occurs in the hip, spine, and wrist- is estimated to occur every three seconds all over the world!
To combat bone loss, you can take a daily collagen supplement to make up for the depletion of this bone building block. Studies show that it can inhibit bone breakdown, stimulate the formation of more bone cells, strengthen your bones, prevent osteoporosis and even improve calcium absorption.
A 2015 study observed two groups of women who took calcium supplement daily for 12 months. One group took collagen supplements along with the calcium while the other group did not.
By the end of the study, the group of women taking both a calcium and collagen supplement had a significantly lower risk of bone loss than those taking just the calcium.
Another study involving 66 women who were given collagen supplements daily for 12 months shared similar results. It was found that their bone mineral density (BMD) increased up to 7% in comparison to women who did not take collagen supplements for the past year.
BMD measures the amount of minerals, such as calcium in your bones. Lower results mean weaker bones at a much higher risk of osteoporosis.
Regularly taking collagen supplements benefits our body tremendously in so many ways and with very few known risks.
It improves skin health and combats the signs of aging by reducing the appearance of wrinkles, prevents sagging and minimizes dryness. It was also found to help increase nail strength, build muscle mass, ease joint pain and prevent bone loss.
Collagen supplements are generally safe and easy to use. Include one in your daily diet to maximize your collagen levels. Keep your skin, nails, bones, muscles, and joints healthier for longer!