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.
- 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)
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|
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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).
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)