You must have heard of collagen supplements unless you're living on a desert island without the Internet. Beauty bloggers' reviews, promotional videos, and experts constantly talk about collagen and persuade everyone to start taking it as a supplement. No wonder the collagen supplements market has reached $3,600 million in 2020. The interest in this supplement continues to grow. Still, only a few consumers can explain precisely how collagen helps them.
So is collagen solely a beauty supplement, or can it also help your wellbeing? Let's discover why collagen is also known as "body's scaffolding" and how it may help you stay not just beautiful but also healthy!
What is collagen?
One of our bodies' most fascinating and miraculous abilities is to repair themselves and create new cells instead of dead ones. Cell regeneration is possible due to the protein content, which is present all over the body and works as an adhesive material. And collagen is also a protein — namely, the prevalent one in your cells. As for scientists, it makes up to 35% of whole-body proteins.
Collagen is necessary for your bones, muscles, tissues, and joints to maintain their density and repair them after workouts or injuries. At the same time, it builds up your skin's protective barriers. It also prevents the absorption of toxins and free radicals present in the air.
Indeed, collagen is a super-protein, defining how strong and healthy your hair and nails are, assisting your digestion, and providing skin elasticity. As you can see, it's crucial for you to have a decent amount of it in your body.
Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever, especially when it comes to collagen. When you're daisy-fresh and young, your body has plenty of collagen, so there are no wrinkles or joints issues. Though, when you turn twenty, your body's ability to replenish collagen stores starts to regress.
Research claims you begin to lose nearly 1% of collagen each year since that age. Your skin becomes thinner and more vulnerable, your joints start to sore during exercises. You may think it's the first inevitable sign of aging, but it's just the lack of collagen in your body.
Forms and types of collagen
The main thing you can do to treat collagen deficiency in your body is to take this protein as a supplement. Still, you should know that there are different types of collagen, each of them has its role in your body. So there are two primary forms of collagen: marine and bovine-derived. Both of them are almost tasteless and smell-less, so you can easily add them to your drinks and meals. Plant-based collagen, in turn, is different from them because it contains vitamins and amino acids that stimulate your body to produce more collagen.
What's more, there are also different types of collagen:
- Type 1. It makes 90% of your body's collagen, a structural element of bones, muscles, organs, skin, tissues, and teeth. It also provides your skin elasticity and the health of nails and hair. The lack of this type of collagen leads to wrinkles and skin thinning.
- Type 2. This collagen type works as a cushioning material for your joints, allowing you to move and exercise normally. It also supports your skeletal system, helping your bones and cartilage to bear stress and absorb shock.
- Type 3. It's the second most abundant collagen in your body, present in the structure of organs, arteries, and muscles. It helps your body heal the wounds — by granulation tissue formation that repairs the wounded parts of the skin.
Still, no form of collagen supplement contains all the types of this protein found in your body. For example, marine collagen is the source of type 1 and 2 collagen. In turn, type 1 and 3 collagen are present in bovine collagen supplements. Now let's look at which benefits you can get from taking collagen supplements.
Perks of taking collagen supplements:
Collagen strengthens your bones and joints
As you age, your bone density decreases, making you vulnerable to such a disease as osteoporosis. When it happens, your bones become thinner and weaker, so you can easily break or injure them. However, since collagen is a building material for bones, taking it as a supplement may prevent osteoporosis.
According to the study, after one year of taking collagen supplements, women in the age of 50+ significantly increased their bone density and amount of Type 1 collagen in their body. At the same time, taking collagen may help you boost your bone strength. Researchers also claim that taking collagen before surgeries allows patients to avoid bone density loss.
Another study has found that consuming collagen supplements helped athletes reduce joint pain during exercises. So if you want to lead an active life after turning 30, make sure that your bones and joints are ready to endure workouts and strenuous activity. Collagen supplements will be an excellent choice for this!
Collagen supports your digestive system
Surprisingly, collagen is also beneficial to your digestive system. When your intestine is damaged, the particles of food could penetrate your bloodstream, causing inflammation. This condition is also known as leaky guts — it may lead to stomach cramps and bloating. In turn, collagen supplements may help you repair damaged parts of the intestine, normalizing your digestive processes.
What's more, collagen contains L-glutamate, an amino acid that can neutralize the oxidative stress in the intestine and assist your digestion by providing energy to intestine cells. Thus, taking collagen supplements will help you maintain the health of your digestive tract and prevent some digestive diseases.
Collagen provides your skin elasticity and smoothness
One of your skin's main layers — the dermis — has cells that produce collagen and elastin for maintaining the skin repairing process and elasticity. Still, as you become older, these cells can't make enough collagen: that's why wrinkles, fine lines, and sagging appear.
Though, by taking collagen supplements, you can replenish the protein stores in your body and allow your skin to recover its elasticity. Research has also proven that taking collagen supplements boost your skin hydration. According to it, the skin moisture of collagen consumers is x7 higher than those who don't get additional collagen.
Collagen helps you grow muscle mass and recover after workouts
Since collagen is a protein, no wonder it helps you increase muscle mass. Up to 10% of your muscle mass consists of collagen. Therefore, it's essential to keep your collagen level high. In addition, if you're working out and want to grow muscle mass faster, collagen may help you with it.
The study had discovered that men who were taking collagen before workouts increased their fat-free mass, lost more fat, and significantly strengthened their muscles. Meanwhile, collagen also helps your recover faster after workouts by providing a structural material to repair the damaged parts of muscles. So if you were looking for a perfect pre-workout supplement — collagen would be the one!
Collagen maintains your nails and hair health
Have you ever seen supplemental mixes for skin, hair, and nails? Most of them also contain collagen — to strengthen the structure of hair and nails. As for hair, collagen protects it from oxidative stress and destruction. In addition, collagen has vital amino acids necessary for keratin production and hair growth. So if you want a luxurious mane of shiny and healthy hair, then collagen supplements are a must-have for you.
When it comes to nails, collagen is essential to have strong and healthy nails. A study has shown that taking collagen can significantly boost nail growth and prevent nail breaking. Taking this protein as a supplement can also reduce the symptoms of brittle nails syndrome.
How to choose a collagen supplement?
Now, when you know which perks collagen may bring to your life, it's time to discover how to choose the best one among tons of various supplements. If you visit an online store or your local supermarket, you may find tons of different options.
Make sure you're getting a certified and tested product. Then we recommend you prefer collagen manufactured from grass-fed animals or wild fish. These options have fewer risks of containing harmful substances or toxic chemicals.
While different supplements can contain only certain types of collagen, your body needs all of them to stay healthy and get all the benefits. In this case, you can opt for multi collagen supplements, that contain all essential collagen types - mostly in equal dosages. If you don't look for easy ways, you can mix bovine and marine supplements to get type 1, 2, and 3 collagen at once. Just make sure you don’t exceed the recommended dosage.
If you have collagen powder, 1-2 scoops per day will be enough for your body. You can take it as long as it helps you because it's a nontoxic supplement with just a few minor side effects. When it comes to collagen capsules, up to 15 grams of collagen per day will be a normal dosage for your body to absorb.
Tips for taking collagen in the most effective way
- Add it to your meals and drinks. If you don't like the taste of collagen powder, you can opt for unflavoured versions of it and add it to your meals, smoothies, or even to your coffee cup.
- Choose collagen with vitamin C. Antioxidants, like vitamin C, are necessary chemicals for collagen synthesis. Plus, this vitamin protects your skin from UV rays, photodamage, and skin wrinkling. Vitamin C also assists your wound healing. Thus, a combination of it and collagen will be way more powerful to improve your skin appearance.
- Carry a collagen shot in your bag. When you're always on the go, it can be hard to get your daily collagen dose. Still, you can grab a few sticks of liquid collagen every morning and take it in a few seconds at your convenience.
- Combine collagen with your snacks. If you want to stay full without getting extra calories, just combine your quick snacks with the collagen intake. As a protein, collagen will help you make your snack more filling and energy-boosting.
- It's never too late to begin taking this protein. Even if you think that you've missed all the chances to begin consuming collagen at the right time, there's never too late for it. Be you in your 20s or 50s — collagen will be equally beneficial to your skin, bones, and muscles.
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- Why Does Skin Wrinkle With Age? What Is The Best Way To Slow Or Prevent This Process? (2005)
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- Hydrolyzed Collagen Improves Bone Status And Prevents Bone Loss In Ovariectomized C3h/Hen Mice (2013)
- A Guide To Collagen Supplements: Benefits For Hair, Skin & More (2021)
- Benefits Of Collagen For Maintaining A Healthy Gut (2018)
- L-Glutamate Supplementation Improves Small Intestinal Architecture And Enhances The Expressions Of Jejunal Mucosa Amino Acid Receptors And Transporters In Weaning Piglets (2014)
- Oral Intake Of Low-Molecular-Weight Collagen Peptide Improves Hydration, Elasticity, And Wrinkling In Human Skin: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study (2018)
- Collagen Peptide Supplementation In Combination With Resistance Training Improves Body Composition And Increases Muscle Strength In Elderly Sarcopenic Men: A Randomised Controlled Trial (2015)
- Oral Supplementation With Specific Bioactive Collagen Peptides Improves Nail Growth And Reduces Symptoms Of Brittle Nails (2017)
- How Much Collagen A Day Is A-Ok? (2020)
- Vitamin C And Skin Health (2021)