Bones, skin, muscles, and other components of the body all contain collagen, which is an essential component. A number of potential benefits include the alleviation of joint discomfort, the prevention of bone loss, and the improvement of skin health.
During my time as a wrestler in high school, I made it a habit to consume a whey protein concentrate after each session in order to improve my muscle growth and recuperation.
After entering college, I decided to give up wrestling and start bodybuilding instead. Despite this change, I continued to consume a whey protein concentrate after each of my sessions.
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When I was in my second year of college, I was conducting research for a class, and it was around that time that I became aware of a new type of protein known as collagen.
Research on collagen supplements and the alleged benefits it offers was either scant or of low quality at the time, and I hope that this does not cause me to appear older than I actually am. The benefits of collagen, however, are supported by a substantial amount of high-quality studies today.
Here are 6 science-backed health benefits of taking collagen.
What is collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body.
It is the primary constituent of connective tissues, which are responsible for the formation of a number of different bodily parts, such as tendons, ligaments, skin, and muscles.
Collagen is responsible for a wide range of critical tasks, including the provision of structure to your skin and the reinforcement of your bones.
There are 28 types of collagen, but here are the four most common :
- Type I: the most common type, found in all connective tissue
- Type ll: found in joints and intervertebral discs (the cushions that serve as your spine’s shock absorbers)
- Type lll: the main component of reticular fibers, which are found in your skin and blood vessels
- Type lV: a component of your kidneys, inner ear, and eye lens
Supplements containing collagen have seen a surge in popularity in recent years. Hydrolyzed collagen is the most common type, which indicates that the collagen has been broken down in order to make it simpler to absorb.
The majority of these dietary supplements are available in powder form; however, capsules are also a viable option. There is a wide range of collagen types that can be found in supplements; some contain only one or two forms, while others have as many as five different types.
Several foods may naturally increase your collagen intake, including pork skin and bone broth.
Foods that contain collagen
The collagen that we need can be found in foods that contain gelatin, such as bone broth. Gelatin is a protein material that is produced by processing collagen for the purpose of producing gelatin.
The connective tissues of mammals contain collagen in their composition. In light of this, collagen can be found in meals such as the skin of chickens and pork, as well as in cattle and fish.
As a result of the fact that vitamin C is essential for the production of collagen, you should also make it a point to consume foods that are abundant in this vitamin, such as bell peppers, broccoli, and citrus fruits.
In order to discover whether or not consuming foods that are rich in collagen helps enhance collagen levels in your body, additional research is required. It is possible that these meals may not have the same benefits as supplements.
The collagen included in food is broken down into its component amino acids and peptides by processes known as digestive enzymes. Collagen found in supplements, on the other hand, has already been hydrolyzed, which means that it has already been broken down. This is the reason why it is believed to be absorbed more efficiently than collagen found in foods.
Health benefits of collagen supplements
Collagen supplementation provides a variety of health benefits.
May improve skin health
One of the most important components of your skin is collagen.
In addition to its role in elasticity and hydration, it also has a role in the strengthening of the skin. You will experience dry skin and the development of wrinkles as you get older since your body creates less collagen as you get older.
Collagen peptides or supplements that include collagen, on the other hand, have been demonstrated in a number of studies to have the potential to slow down the aging process of your skin by lowering the appearance of wrinkles and dryness.
Taking between three and ten grams of collagen per day for an average of 69 days led to improvements in skin elasticity and moisture, according to a study of eleven trials that focused primarily on women.
One possible mechanism of action for these supplements is that they encourage your body to make collagen on its own. Furthermore, collagen supplements have the potential to stimulate the development of additional proteins that contribute to the structure of your skin, such as elastin and fibrillin.
Additionally, there are several anecdotal claims that collagen supplements can assist in the prevention of acne and other skin disorders; however, these claims are not backed by any scientific evidence.
May relieve joint pain
The cartilage, which is a type of tissue similar to rubber and protects your joints, is able to preserve its integrity with the support of collagen.
There is a correlation between the amount of collagen in your body decreasing with age and an increased likelihood of developing degenerative joint illnesses such as osteoarthritis.
According to the findings of a few studies, collagen supplements might be able to alleviate the symptoms of osteoarthritis and lessen the overall pain experienced by joints.
A comprehensive analysis of studies conducted on individuals suffering from osteoarthritis revealed that the consumption of collagen resulted in substantial enhancements in joint stiffness and overall osteoarthritis symptoms.
It has been hypothesized by researchers that supplementary collagen could build up in cartilage and potentially encourage the production of collagen in your tissues. For this reason, it is possible that this will result in less inflammation, improved joint support, and decreased discomfort.
Although the research shows that collagen may be effective in treating osteoarthritis, experts warn that more convincing data is still required before suggesting collagen as a treatment for the condition.
May prevent bone loss
There is a significant amount of collagen in your bones, which is what gives them their shape and strength.
As you become older, your bone mass will decrease in the same way that the collagen in your body will as well. This may result in disorders such as osteoporosis, which is characterized by reduced bone density and an increased risk of bone fractures. This may also lead to other conditions.
According to a number of studies, collagen supplements have the potential to help prevent the bone loss that is the root cause of osteoporosis.
Postmenopausal women participated in a trial that lasted for a year and divided them into two groups: those who took a calcium and vitamin D supplement with 5 grams of collagen and those who took a calcium and vitamin D supplement without any collagen.
The results of the study showed that those who took a supplement consisting of calcium, vitamin D, and collagen had considerably lower levels of proteins in their blood that promote bone disintegration compared to those who only took calcium and vitamin D. In addition, the collagen group experienced a lesser reduction in bone mineral density.
Similar findings were discovered in a another study that involved 66 post-menopausal women who took 5 grams of collagen every day for a period of one year. The bone mineral density (BMD) of individuals who took collagen showed an increase of up to seven percent, in comparison to the BMD of those who did not take collagen.
Your bone mineral density (BMD) is a measurement of the density of minerals in your bones, such as calcium. A bone mineral density (BMD) that is low is linked to osteoporosis risk and weak bones.
Despite the fact that these findings are encouraging, additional research on humans is required.
May boost muscle mass
As the protein that is found in the greatest quantity throughout the body, collagen is an essential component of skeletal muscle.
Collagen supplements may be able to help patients with sarcopenia, which is the gradual loss of muscle mass that occurs with advancing age, increase their muscle mass, according to studies.
While taking part in an exercise program, 27 older men who were diagnosed with this illness were given 15 grams of collagen. The study lasted for a period of twelve weeks. They had a considerable increase in both their muscle mass and their strength when compared to guys who exercised but did not take collagen supplements.
Supplemental collagen may increase muscle growth after exercise, as well as promote the synthesis of muscle proteins like creatine, according to the findings of a group of researchers.
Nevertheless, when it comes to the development of muscle or strength, collagen protein is not more effective than whey protein. This is due to the fact that collagen contains a lower concentration of branched chain amino acids, which are essential for the development of muscle. Protein derived from whey is a more abundant source of these amino acids.
It is required to do additional study in order to evaluate the potential of collagen to increase muscle mass.
May promote heart health
Collagen supplements, according to the hypothesis of some researchers, might be able to assist lower the chance of developing cardiac issues.
The structure of your arteries, which are the blood channels that transport blood from your heart to the rest of your body, is provided by collagen. In the absence of sufficient collagen, the arteries may eventually become less elastic and flexible.
Atherosclerosis, a disease that is characterized by the narrowing of your arteries, may begin to develop as a result of this. Both heart attacks and strokes are possible outcomes of this disease.
The participants in the study were healthy people who consumed 16 grams of collagen on a daily basis. commencement with the commencement of the trial and continuing until the end, they had experienced a considerable drop in the measurements of arterial stiffness.
The levels of HDL cholesterol, which is considered to be the “good” cholesterol, increased by an average of 6%. HDL is a significant contributor to the risk of cardiovascular diseases, particularly atherosclerosis, among individuals.
In spite of this, there is a need for additional research on collagen supplements and the health of the heart.
Other health benefits
Collagen supplements may have other health benefits, but these haven’t been studied extensively.
- Hair and nails. Taking collagen supplements may help prevent brittleness, which in turn may strengthen the strength of your nails. Additionally, it has the potential to assist in the growth of longer hair and nails.
- Gut health. Although there is no evidence to back this claim from the scientific community, there are some medical professionals who believe that collagen supplements help treat leaky gut syndrome, which is also referred to as intestinal permeability.
- Brain health. Although there have been no studies conducted to investigate the impact that collagen supplements have in brain health, there are individuals who assert that they boost mood and lessen the symptoms of anxiety.
- Weight loss. These individuals feel that collagen supplements have the potential to facilitate weight loss and a more rapid metabolism. These statements, however, are not supported by any investigations.
Downsides and side effects of collagen supplements
Supplements containing collagen are generally well accepted, and there have been very few reports of adverse effects.
On the other hand, fish, shellfish, and eggs are examples of common dietary allergens that are used in the production of certain supplements. It is recommended that individuals who are allergic to these foods steer clear of collagen supplements that contain these substances.
There have been reports of individuals experiencing nausea and bloating as a result of taking collagen supplements; however, research has not consistently demonstrated that these are negative effects.
There are some reports that collagen supplements may produce additional digestive adverse effects, such as heartburn and feelings of fullness. These side effects have been reported.
Regardless, it seems that these supplements are safe for the majority of people to consume.
How long does it take to see results?
The turnover of collagen is a somewhat sluggish process. It is therefore necessary to wait at least eight weeks before you begin to see obvious improvements from utilizing collagen, regardless of the reason you are using it.
While the majority of research utilize a minimum of eight weeks to evaluate the benefits of collagen on skin health and joint pain reduction, other studies use longer periods of time, such as twelve months, to evaluate the effects of collagen on bone health.
As a result, you ought to exercise patience and stop expecting outcomes for a while.
Alternatives to animal-based collagen
As a result of the fact that the amino acid composition of collagen is distinct from that of other proteins, the choices that are available are restricted.
Collagen that is suitable for vegans can be produced using genetically engineered yeast and bacteria. In order to accomplish this, the genetic structure of these sources is modified by the addition of four human genes that code for collagen. As a result, these sources produce their own collagen.
Additionally, certain species of bacteria naturally have proteins that are comparable to collagen molecules. The possibility of these being sources of collagen is now being studied.
Glycine, lycine, and proline are the key amino acids that are involved in the production of collagen. Supplements that include these amino acids are also available for purchase. Additionally, these amino acids are derived from vegan sources in certain supplements.
In addition, they might contain vitamin C and hyaluronic acid, both of which assist in the retention of water in your tissues, so ensuring that they remain lubricated and wet.
It has been claimed that keratin, which is a structural protein found in hair, nails, and skin, could serve as an alternative to collagen; however, there is a lack of data that supports the use of keratin products for anything more than topical treatment on skin and hair.
For the reason that it is obtained from the feathers, wool, and horns of a variety of animals, keratin is not considered vegan.