Health benefits of collagen 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 (5Trusted Source).
However, 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 11 studies focusing mostly on women found that taking 3–10 grams of collagen per day for an average of 69 days led to improvements in skin elasticity and hydration (6Trusted Source).
These supplements may work by stimulating your body to produce collagen on its own. Additionally, collagen supplements may promote the production of other proteins that help structure your skin, including elastin and fibrillin (6Trusted Source).
There are also many anecdotal claims that collagen supplements help prevent acne and other skin conditions, but these aren’t supported by scientific evidence.
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2. May relieve joint pain
Collagen helps maintain the integrity of your cartilage, the rubber-like tissue that protects your joints.
As the amount of collagen in your body decreases with age, your risk of degenerative joint disorders such as osteoarthritis increases (7Trusted Source).
Some studies suggest that collagen supplements may help improve symptoms of osteoarthritis and reduce overall joint pain (8).
A review of studies in people with osteoarthritis found that taking collagen led to significant improvements in joint stiffness and overall osteoarthritis symptoms (9Trusted Source).
Researchers have theorized that supplemental collagen may accumulate in cartilage and stimulate your tissues to make collagen. In turn, this may lead to lower inflammation, better joint support, and reduced pain (10).
Even though the research is promising, experts caution that stronger evidence is still needed before recommending collagen as a treatment for osteoarthritis.
3. May prevent bone loss
Your bones are made mostly of collagen, which gives them structure and strength (11Trusted Source).
Just as the collagen in your body deteriorates with age, so does bone mass. This may lead to conditions such as osteoporosis, which is characterized by low bone density and a higher risk of bone fractures (12Trusted Source).
Studies note that collagen supplements may help inhibit the bone breakdown that leads to osteoporosis (8).
In a 12-month study, post-menopausal women took either a calcium and vitamin D supplement with 5 grams of collagen or a calcium and vitamin D supplement with no collagen daily.
At the study’s end, those taking the calcium, vitamin D, and collagen supplement had significantly lower blood levels of proteins that promote bone breakdown than those who took only the calcium and vitamin D. The collagen group also had lower loss of bone mineral density (13Trusted Source).
Another study found similar results in 66 post-menopausal women who took 5 grams of collagen daily for 12 months. Those who took the collagen exhibited an increase of up to 7% in their bone mineral density (BMD) compared with those who didn’t take collagen (14Trusted Source).
BMD is a measure of the density of minerals, such as calcium, in your bones. Low BMD is associated with weak bones and osteoporosis risk (14Trusted Source).
Although these results are promising, 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 (2Trusted Source).
Studies suggest that collagen supplements help boost muscle mass in people with sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass that happens with age.
In a 12-week study, 27 older men with this condition 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 (15Trusted Source).
Researchers have suggested that supplemental collagen may promote the synthesis of muscle proteins such as creatine, as well as stimulate muscle growth after exercise (NEW15Trusted Source).
However, collagen protein isn’t more effective than whey protein for building muscle or strength. That’s because collagen is lower in branched chain amino acids which play a key role in muscle building. Whey protein is a richer source of these amino acids (NEW16Trusted Source, NEW17Trusted Source).
More research is necessary to investigate 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 (1Trusted Source).
This may lead to atherosclerosis, a disease characterized by the narrowing of your arteries. This condition may lead to heart attack and stroke (18Trusted Source).
In a 6-month study, 31 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 (18Trusted Source).
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 (18Trusted Source).
Nevertheless, more studies on collagen supplements and heart health are needed.
6. Other health benefits
Collagen supplements may have other health benefits, but these haven’t been studied extensively.
- Hair and nails. Taking collagen may increase the strength of your nails by preventing brittleness. Additionally, it may help your hair and nails grow longer (19Trusted Source).
- Gut health. Although no scientific evidence supports this claim, some health practitioners assert that collagen supplements can treat leaky gut syndrome, also called intestinal permeability.
- Brain health. No studies have examined the role of collagen supplements in brain health, but some people claim that they improve mood and reduce anxiety symptoms.
- Weight loss. Proponents believe that collagen supplement
- s may promote weight loss and faster metabolism. However, no studies support these claims.
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