Your Guide to Collagen’s Properties

Have you read about collagen before? We bet you have! This incredible protein is a common conversation topic in beauty and healthcare circles. That’s due to the multiple benefits it provides your skin, joints, bones, and many other organs in your body.

You may have seen collagen products on the market and wondered: can all those advertised benefits be true? Could I benefit from using collagen? We’ve got great news: all that and more is covered in this article.

Key Ideas

  • Collagen is an essential component for forming connective tissue. Connective tissue is a structure in charge of maintaining the integrity and flexibility of many different organs.
  • This component is also the most abundant protein in humans, making up one third of all the proteins in your body!
  • Collagen supplements have grown in popularity (but also in price) for the abovementioned properties. However, we must learn how to choose collagen supplements right – skipping miracle cures and finding those which may genuinely work.

Collagen Benefits: What You Need to Know (And Beyond)

The collagen in your body serves several assigned functions: maintaining skin’s structure to prevent wrinkles and sagging, as well as making up the cartilage in joints, bones, and muscles.

But are collagen products and supplements able to “replicate” those properties? Let’s find out!

Benefits Method of Delivery Dosage Potential Effects
Skin Ingested 2.5 to 10 grams (when ingested) (1, 2, 3, 4) Anti-aging effects
Hair Ingested No standardised dosage Providing structure
Bones, muscles, and joints Ingested 1.2 to 10 grams (5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10) Reducing joint pain and swelling
Increasing muscle mass and bone density
Heart Ingested 2.5 to 16 grams (11, 12) Providing blood vessels with structure and elasticity 
Brain Ingested No standardised dosage Preventing neurological diseases
Digestive system Ingested No standardised dosage Protecting the body from intestinal “toxins”

Collagen Benefits: The Different Types of Collagen

28 different types of collagen exist in our bodies, each one with unique functions! We’ve listed the three most important types and their role (13)

Type of Collagen Function
Type I Skin healing (scar and scab formation)
Forming tendons
Structuring blood vessels
Primary component of bone
Type II Primary component of joint cartilage
Type III  Forming tissues which give support to various organs, like skin and the intestinal tract

Anti-Aging Effects

Collagen has become one of the beauty world’s star products, even recommended by celebrities known for their eternally youthful looks like Jennifer Aniston. But how true are these declarations?

According to multiple research studies performed on collagen supplements, they may provide these benefits to your skin (1, 2, 3, 4)

  • Preventing wrinkle formation
  • Protecting from sun damage
  • Increasing skin’s firmness
  • Reducing blemishes and marks

Strengthening the Musculoskeletal System

Could you get in better shape by taking collagen? Many sources say yes, and we’ll explain how:

  • Collagen may prevent the joint pain and swelling which usually affects people with arthrosis (5, 6, 7)
  • Collagen’s amino acids (the building blocks which make up protein) may be beneficial for muscle growth when paired with exercise routines (8, 9).
  • Because bones contain large amounts of collagen, supplements could increase their density, which may help prevent future fractures (10, 14, 15).

Research indicates that collagen is a great help for keeping the musculoskeletal system in good health. However, without a healthy diet and regular physical activity, these benefits are nearly impossible to achieve!

Because it is the most abundant protein in the human body, collagen provides structure for skin, bones, tendons, ligaments, and joints. (Source: Rosenke: GAGed6WJoOY/ Unsplash.com)

Protecting the Cardiovascular System

Your heart is a pump in charge of pushing blood – and all the nutrients it contains – from tip to toe. However, it can only do all this with the support of the blood-transporting tubes we call veins and arteries.

Thanks to the flexibility of blood vessels, blood can travel against gravity to arrive at places where the body needs it. Because collagen forms the firm, elastic structure of blood vessel walls, it appears to be a fundamental part of their functioning (16)

As such, some research indicates that collagen could prevent certain conditions like arteriosclerosis, better known as “hardened” blood vessels (11, 12)

Preventing Neurological Disease

Many structures which nurture and protect your brain are made up of collagen. It’s also involved in the transmitting of impulses which help us move and experience sensations (17)

It is believed that collagen supplements could be relevant for preventing neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Both of these degenerative brain pathologies lead to memory and motor problems (18)

However, much remains to be learned about this possible benefit of collagen supplements.

Collagen supplements could be relevant for preventing neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. (Source: lightfieldstudios: 114549593/ 123rf.com)

Strengthening the Digestive Barrier

Your intestines are much stronger than you may assume. They’re able to keep “toxins” on the inside, preventing them from invading the rest of your body and making you ill.

That’s where collagen plays a starring role. It strengthens our intestinal barrier, keeping it in optimal condition.

Many studies have suggested that taking collagen supplements could strengthen the gastrointestinal barrier (19, 20). However, further study is needed to confirm these possible benefits.

How Can I Choose the Best Collagen Supplement for Me?

If you want to find your ideal collagen supplement, but aren’t quite sure where to begin, this guide is your companion.

Collagen for Vegans

Collagen seems like bad news for those who follow vegan or vegetarian diets, since it comes from the bones, skin, and joints of fish or land animals.

But don’t lose hope! You can boost your body’s collagen production by providing it with the essential nutrients used to manufacture collagen. Those would be vitamin C, zinc, magnesium, copper, and amino acids.

By following a diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and nuts, you’ll be able to provide your body all those nutrients. And if you also wish to take supplements, don’t hesitate to ask a doctor first!

Recent research has discovered that collagen can now be made from genetically modified bacteria. (Source: Kachmar: 124401467/ 123rf.com)

Collagen Sources

Most collagen supplements come from one of three main sources: marine (from fish), porcine (from pigs), and bovine (from cows).

Marine collagen is considered the highest-quality, since the body can absorb it much better than the other two forms. It also causes fewer allergic reactions than collagen from bovine or porcine sources (21). Plus, it conforms better to certain cultures’ diets.

However, if you’re allergic to any type of sea life, you should avoid this form. There may be a possibility of developing an allergic reaction.

Collagen Format

If you want to maximise the collagen you purchase, look for the types of product which your body makes the most use of. We suggest looking for collagen supplements with these features:

Hydrolysed Collagen: In this form, collagen is split into smaller compounds which your body can absorb more easily.
Liposomal Collagen: This is one of the best forms of collagen. It ensures its protection and allows the body to absorb it, since the nutrient is wrapped in a protective layer – or “liposome” – which makes it easier to assimilat.

Stress, sunlight, tobacco, and unhealthy eating are all modifiable factors which negatively impact your skin’s health. (Source: Yulisitsa : 118190722/ 123rf.com)

Other Ingredients

Collagen can be enjoyed on its own or combined with ingredients which enhance its activity or provide further benefits. These include:

  • Vitamin C and E: Required to produce collagen and neutralise free radicals (compounds which can destroy cells prematurely) (22)
  • Hyaluronic acid: A molecule capable of “trapping” water molecules, improving skin’s hydration. In addition, it can help bind collagen to the skin and enhance its reparative effects (23)
  • Magnesium: A fundamental element for our body’s overall function. It’s also involved in collagen formation (24)

Our Conclusions

Collagen is one of your body’s most important proteins; it’s considered the glue which maintains the structure and flexibility of many organs and systems. Its intrinsic benefits have piqued researchers’ curiosity, leading them to search for ways to take advantage of supplements.

The collagen products you’ll find on the market are usually advertised as anti-aging miracles. However, their benefits can actually go far beyond skincare if selected correctly and used responsibly.

We can’t stop talking about collagen and what it can do! We’d love to hear your comments. Plus, don’t forget to share this article.

(Featured image source: Puhhha: 133503611/ 123rf.com)

References (24)

1. Choi FD, Juhasz M, Mesinkovsk N. Oral Collagen Supplementation: A Systematic Review of Dermatological Applications. Journal of Drugs in Dermatology. 2019.
Source

2. Laing S, Bielfeldt S, Ehrenberg C, Wilhelm K-P. A Dermonutrient Containing Special Collagen Peptides Improves Skin Structure and Function: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Triple-Blind Trial Using Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy on the Cosmetic Effects and Tolerance of a Drinkable Collagen Supplement. Journal of Medicinal Food. 2020;23(2):147–52.
Source

3. Sibilla S, Borumand M. Daily consumption of the collagen supplement Pure Gold Collagen® reduces visible signs of aging. Clinical Interventions in Aging. 2014;1747.
Source

4. Jeong-Kee K y cols Beneficial Effect of Collagen Peptide Supplement on Anti-aging Against Photodamage. Korean Journal of Food Science and Technology. 2009.
Source

5. Bruyère O, Zegels B, Leonori L, Rabenda V, Janssen A, Bourges C, et al. Effect of collagen hydrolysate in articular pain: A 6-month randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study. Complementary Therapies in Medicine. 2012;20(3):124–30.
Source

6. Clark KL, Sebastianelli W, Flechsenhar KR, Aukermann DF, Meza F, Millard RL, et al. 24-Week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain. Current Medical Research and Opinion. 2008;24(5):1485–96.
Source

7. ] Bello AE, Oesser S. Collagen hydrolysate for the treatment of osteoarthritis and other joint disorders: a review of the literature. Current Medical Research and Opinion. 2006;22(11):2221–32.
Source

8. Oertzen-Hagemann V, Kirmse M, Eggers B, Pfeiffer K, Marcus K, Marées MD, et al. Effects of 12 Weeks of Hypertrophy Resistance Exercise Training Combined with Collagen Peptide Supplementation on the Skeletal Muscle Proteome in Recreationally Active Men. Nutrients. 2019;11(5):1072
Source

9. Zdzieblik D, Oesser S, Baumstark MW, Gollhofer A, König D. Collagen peptide supplementation in combination with resistance training improves body composition and increases muscle strength in elderly sarcopenic men: a randomised controlled trial. British Journal of Nutrition. 2015;114(8):1237–45.
Source

10. Porfírio E, Fanaro GB. Collagen supplementation as a complementary therapy for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis: a systematic review. Revista Brasileira de Geriatria e Gerontologia. 2016;19(1):153–64.
Source

11. Igase M, Kohara K, Okada Y, Ochi M, Igase K, Inoue N, et al. A double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomised clinical study of the effect of pork collagen peptide supplementation on atherosclerosis in healthy older individuals. Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry. 2018;82(5):893–5.
Source

12. Tomosugi N, Yamamoto S, Takeuchi M, Yonekura H, Ishigaki Y, Numata N, et al. Effect of Collagen Tripeptide on Atherosclerosis in Healthy Humans. Journal of Atherosclerosis and Thrombosis. 2017;24(5):530–8.
Source

13. Ricard-Blum S. The Collagen Family. Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology. 2010;3(1).
Source

14. Guillerminet F, Beaupied H, Fabien-Soulé V, Tomé D, Benhamou C-L, Roux C, et al. Hydrolyzed collagen improves bone metabolism and biomechanical parameters in ovariectomized mice: An in vitro and in vivo study. Bone. 2010;46(3):827–34.
Source

15. Kim H, Kim M-G, Leem K-H. Osteogenic Activity of Collagen Peptide via ERK/MAPK Pathway Mediated Boosting of Collagen Synthesis and Its Therapeutic Efficacy in Osteoporotic Bone by Back-Scattered Electron Imaging and Microarchitecture Analysis. Molecules. 2013;18(12):15474–89.
Source

16. Tyagi. Blood flow interplays with elastin: collagen and MMP: TIMP ratios to maintain healthy vascular structure and function. Vascular Health and Risk Management. 2010;215.
Source

17. Kucharz EJ. Collagen in the Nervous System. The Collagens: Biochemistry and Pathophysiology. 1992;261–3.
Source

18. Humpel C, Ucar B. Collagen for brain repair: therapeutic perspectives. Neural Regeneration Research. 2018;13(4):595
Source

19. Graham MF, Drucker DE, Diegelmann RF, Elson CO. Collagen synthesis by human intestinal smooth muscle cells in culture. Gastroenterology. 1987;92(2):400–5.
Source

20. Chen Q, Chen O, Martins IM, Hou H, Zhao X, Blumberg JB, et al. Collagen peptides ameliorate intestinal epithelial barrier dysfunction in immunostimulatory Caco-2 cell monolayers via enhancing tight junctions. Food & Function. 2017;8(3):1144–51.
Source

21. Silvipriya K, Kumar K, Bhat A, Kumar B, John A, Lakshmanan P. Collagen: Animal Sources and Biomedical Application. Journal of Applied Pharmaceutical Science. 2015;123–7.
Source

22. Shoubing Z., and Enkui D., Fighting against Skin Aging [Internet]. Cell Transplant. 2018. p 729–738.
Source

23. Oxlund H, Andreassen TT. The roles of hyaluronic acid, collagen and elastin in the mechanical properties of connective tissues. Journal of Anatomy. 1980
Source

24. Magnesio en la dieta: MedlinePlus enciclopedia médica [Internet]. MedlinePlus. U.S. National Library of Medicine; 2020.
Source

Systematic Review
Choi FD, Juhasz M, Mesinkovsk N. Oral Collagen Supplementation: A Systematic Review of Dermatological Applications. Journal of Drugs in Dermatology. 2019.
Go to source
Human Study
Laing S, Bielfeldt S, Ehrenberg C, Wilhelm K-P. A Dermonutrient Containing Special Collagen Peptides Improves Skin Structure and Function: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Triple-Blind Trial Using Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy on the Cosmetic Effects and Tolerance of a Drinkable Collagen Supplement. Journal of Medicinal Food. 2020;23(2):147–52.
Go to source
Human Study
Sibilla S, Borumand M. Daily consumption of the collagen supplement Pure Gold Collagen® reduces visible signs of aging. Clinical Interventions in Aging. 2014;1747.
Go to source
Human Study
Jeong-Kee K y cols Beneficial Effect of Collagen Peptide Supplement on Anti-aging Against Photodamage. Korean Journal of Food Science and Technology. 2009.
Go to source
Human Study
Bruyère O, Zegels B, Leonori L, Rabenda V, Janssen A, Bourges C, et al. Effect of collagen hydrolysate in articular pain: A 6-month randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study. Complementary Therapies in Medicine. 2012;20(3):124–30.
Go to source
Human Study
Clark KL, Sebastianelli W, Flechsenhar KR, Aukermann DF, Meza F, Millard RL, et al. 24-Week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain. Current Medical Research and Opinion. 2008;24(5):1485–96.
Go to source
Scientific Article
] Bello AE, Oesser S. Collagen hydrolysate for the treatment of osteoarthritis and other joint disorders: a review of the literature. Current Medical Research and Opinion. 2006;22(11):2221–32.
Go to source
Human Study
Oertzen-Hagemann V, Kirmse M, Eggers B, Pfeiffer K, Marcus K, Marées MD, et al. Effects of 12 Weeks of Hypertrophy Resistance Exercise Training Combined with Collagen Peptide Supplementation on the Skeletal Muscle Proteome in Recreationally Active Men. Nutrients. 2019;11(5):1072
Go to source
Human Study
Zdzieblik D, Oesser S, Baumstark MW, Gollhofer A, König D. Collagen peptide supplementation in combination with resistance training improves body composition and increases muscle strength in elderly sarcopenic men: a randomised controlled trial. British Journal of Nutrition. 2015;114(8):1237–45.
Go to source
Systematic Review
Porfírio E, Fanaro GB. Collagen supplementation as a complementary therapy for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis: a systematic review. Revista Brasileira de Geriatria e Gerontologia. 2016;19(1):153–64.
Go to source
Human Study
Igase M, Kohara K, Okada Y, Ochi M, Igase K, Inoue N, et al. A double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomised clinical study of the effect of pork collagen peptide supplementation on atherosclerosis in healthy older individuals. Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry. 2018;82(5):893–5.
Go to source
Human Study
Tomosugi N, Yamamoto S, Takeuchi M, Yonekura H, Ishigaki Y, Numata N, et al. Effect of Collagen Tripeptide on Atherosclerosis in Healthy Humans. Journal of Atherosclerosis and Thrombosis. 2017;24(5):530–8.
Go to source
Scientific Article
Ricard-Blum S. The Collagen Family. Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology. 2010;3(1).
Go to source
In Vivo and In Vitro Study
Guillerminet F, Beaupied H, Fabien-Soulé V, Tomé D, Benhamou C-L, Roux C, et al. Hydrolyzed collagen improves bone metabolism and biomechanical parameters in ovariectomized mice: An in vitro and in vivo study. Bone. 2010;46(3):827–34.
Go to source
Study on Rats
Kim H, Kim M-G, Leem K-H. Osteogenic Activity of Collagen Peptide via ERK/MAPK Pathway Mediated Boosting of Collagen Synthesis and Its Therapeutic Efficacy in Osteoporotic Bone by Back-Scattered Electron Imaging and Microarchitecture Analysis. Molecules. 2013;18(12):15474–89.
Go to source
Scientific Article
Tyagi. Blood flow interplays with elastin: collagen and MMP: TIMP ratios to maintain healthy vascular structure and function. Vascular Health and Risk Management. 2010;215.
Go to source
Scientific Article
Kucharz EJ. Collagen in the Nervous System. The Collagens: Biochemistry and Pathophysiology. 1992;261–3.
Go to source
Scientific Article
Humpel C, Ucar B. Collagen for brain repair: therapeutic perspectives. Neural Regeneration Research. 2018;13(4):595
Go to source
In Vitro Study
Graham MF, Drucker DE, Diegelmann RF, Elson CO. Collagen synthesis by human intestinal smooth muscle cells in culture. Gastroenterology. 1987;92(2):400–5.
Go to source
In Vitro Study
Chen Q, Chen O, Martins IM, Hou H, Zhao X, Blumberg JB, et al. Collagen peptides ameliorate intestinal epithelial barrier dysfunction in immunostimulatory Caco-2 cell monolayers via enhancing tight junctions. Food & Function. 2017;8(3):1144–51.
Go to source
Scientific Article
Silvipriya K, Kumar K, Bhat A, Kumar B, John A, Lakshmanan P. Collagen: Animal Sources and Biomedical Application. Journal of Applied Pharmaceutical Science. 2015;123–7.
Go to source
Scientific Article
Shoubing Z., and Enkui D., Fighting against Skin Aging [Internet]. Cell Transplant. 2018. p 729–738.
Go to source
In Vitro Study
Oxlund H, Andreassen TT. The roles of hyaluronic acid, collagen and elastin in the mechanical properties of connective tissues. Journal of Anatomy. 1980
Go to source
Official Website
Magnesio en la dieta: MedlinePlus enciclopedia médica [Internet]. MedlinePlus. U.S. National Library of Medicine; 2020.
Go to source
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