According to a study from Germany, the use of collagen supplements can delay skin aging.
However, some people wonder if there are any adverse reactions when it comes to these skin products.
In this article, we will have an overview of collagen peptides, the benefits of collagen, and the safety of collagen supplement use.
Collagen Peptides: An Overview
Collagen peptides or hydrolyzed collagen are also known as collagen proteins. They are made up of amino acids from animal collagen.
According to a study from Malaysia, there are different types of collagen, and collagen type I is the most abundant as it accounts for 90% of the collagen in the human body.
To understand the most common types, take a look at the following:
- Type I – Found in all connective tissues
- Type II – Found in joints and intervertebral discs
- Type III – Found in skin and blood vessels
- Type IV – Found in kidneys, inner ear, and eye lens
Moreover, the amino acids collagen is made of include glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline. Mostly, these are found in the connective tissue and are responsible for keeping the following cellular responses functional:
- Issue repair
- Immune response
- Cellular communication
- Cellular migration
As you age, your collagen production is reduced.
This is the reason why collagen supplements are used by many adults, especially health enthusiasts to keep them going while they do high-intensity exercises.
When it comes to supplements or other collagen products, they may come in powder, capsule, or liquid form.
In a clinical review from Moscow, collagen is used to treat wounds, burns, or diabetic ulcers.
8 Proven Collagen Benefits You Should Know
If you plan on using collagen to achieve healthy skin, keep in mind that there are also other health benefits you can get.
In this section, we will discuss the proven beneficial effects of collagen supplementation.
1) Improved skin elasticity and overall skin health
Collagen is the major component of human skin.
According to a study from Poland, collagen offers many benefits to human skin physiology.
It is used to moisturize the skin.
It also comes with humectant properties that help the skin hold onto water.
Eventually, this can prevent the sagging of the skin and the appearance of wrinkles.
Aside from skin hydration, collagen can promote healthy skin by increasing its elasticity.
Consistent with a study from the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, it only takes up to 10 grams of collagen per day to see improvements in skin hydration and elasticity.
If you wonder how collagen supplementation works on skin hydration, a double-blind placebo-controlled study from Germany states that this oral supplementation of collagen promotes the production of elastin and fibrillin.
To be more specific, the role of taking hydrolyzed collagen supplements on your skin includes skin cell growth and dead skin cell replacement.
There are other reports that a collagen supplement is also effective in preventing acne and other skin-related acute diseases.
2) Enhanced bone health
One of the main uses of oral supplementation of collagen includes the prevention of bone loss which is why most of the elderly take oral collagen supplements to address their osteoporosis condition.
Remember, as you age, your bones become brittle and when you experience a fracture, healing might take more time.
Fortunately, oral supplementation of collagen can help them become less brittle and can help you produce new bones.
In a double-blind placebo-controlled study from Florida, the benefits of collagen on the bone mineral density of postmenopausal women were tested.
In this study, it was found that the incorporation of collagen in probiotic supplements can reduce bone turnover in postmenopausal women.
In a clinical trial in Germany, even just a small dose of 5 grams of oral collagen supplements can improve bone mineral density, prevent bone loss, and enhance bone markers.
3) Thicker hair
For men, aging can cause baldness.
On the other hand, for women, hair loss might be experienced. However, hydrolyzed collagen peptide supplementation can increase hair quantity and thickness.
According to a study from Canada, amino acids are used to build keratin, and, to get these amino acids, we would need collagen.
As we all know, keratin is what makes up hair.
Thus, if you consider collagen peptide supplementation, you are providing the body with the building blocks it needs to create hair.
Moreover, take note that collagen is also an antioxidant.
It can fight hair damage caused by free radicals. Usually, these free radicals are caused by stress and aging.
4) Healthier nails
If you want to speed up your nail growth, specific collagen peptides can also help you out. Collagen peptides prevent your nails from becoming brittle as well.
According to a study from Brazil, specific collagen peptides can increase nail growth by up to 12% and can decrease the frequency of broken nails by up to 42%.
Participants in this study consumed supplements with collagen daily and the effects were in just 4 weeks.
5) Increased muscle mass
Consuming collagen can increase muscle mass and improve strength training.
Based on a double-blind placebo-controlled study from Germany, it was reported that taking 15 grams of collagen powder can improve muscle mass and body composition.
Remember, collagen is an important component of the skeletal muscle proteome.
This is the reason why people who experience muscle wasting consider collagen tripeptide as a treatment option.
In a study from The British Journal of Nutrition, it was reported that those who took 15 grams of collagen powder while doing hypertrophy resistance exercise training were able to improve their muscle mass compared to those who took none.
Because of the collagen powder’s effectiveness in promoting muscle protein synthesis, aside from increasing muscle mass, it can also support healthy muscle growth.
However, take note that collagen powder is not a suitable alternative for whey protein.
Generally, collagen powder has lower essential amino acids compared to whey. You can use collagen protein though, but only in conjunction with whey.
6) Relieves joint pain
Many individuals with joint pain can also consider collagen supplements.
For example, people with knee osteoarthritis can use these products as mild pain relievers and to improve joint function.
According to some experts, it may take up to 5 months to see improvements in your joint health.
According to a study from the United States, taking as low as 2 grams of collagen can reduce joint pain, stiffness, and joint disabilities by up to 38%.
In another clinical trial from Germany, it was stated that collagen supplements are not only for those with joint and bone health problems.
Instead, those who are experiencing joint pain associated with exercise can also appreciate them.
7) Support cardiovascular health
Interestingly, specific bioactive collagen peptides can also support cardiovascular health.
Remember, collagen makes the arteries more flexible and elastic.
Without enough collagen, heart diseases like atherosclerosis can occur.
According to a study from Japan, participants who took 16 grams of collagen hydrolysate were able to reduce their artery stiffness during and until the end of the 6-month study.
Additionally, the levels of their good cholesterol increased by 6%.
If you wish to take collagen hydrolysate for your heart condition, make sure to seek medical consultation beforehand to avoid complications including possible drug interactions.
8) Restores teeth health
Collagen is also important in periodontics.
This protein acts as a barrier to prevent fast-growing gum tissue from developing a wound.
Nowadays, the use of collagen supplements to heal wounds is becoming a trend, and many dentists believe that this technique is effective.
First, collagen supplements promote tooth pulp health.
This tooth pulp is essential for creating dentin and providing the dentin layer with moisture and essential nutrients.
Second, it encourages firm tooth anchoring in the jawbone to prevent shaky teeth.
Safety of A Collagen Supplement
The safety of collagen supplements depends on the individuals taking them. Generally, the side effects of collagen supplements are rare.
However, when collagen is incorporated in other products formulated for skin, nails, and hair, side effects may be seen.
According to a study from the USA, some of these rare side effects include teratogenicity, drowsiness, increased risk of diabetes, and lung cancer.
Remember, these side effects may not come from the collagen.
Instead, they may occur due to the other ingredients in the product.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it is better to avoid these supplements in the meantime as there is limited research about the safety of collagen being added to other supplemental ingredients.
Apart from possible drug interactions, collagen can also interfere with some laboratory tests.
For example, the biotin content of collagen can alter heart and thyroid lab tests.
According to a clinical trial from Ohio, the dose can also cause side effects.
Also from the study above, if you take collagen at high doses, although rare, some risks such as aftertaste, stomach discomfort, and heartburn can be experienced.
Causes of Low Collagen Levels
According to a study from Saudi Arabia, the main cause of reduced natural collagen production is aging.
However, other factors may lower your collagen levels as well. Some of these will be discussed in this section.
Too much sunlight or UV exposure can reduce your collagen levels.
According to a study from India, UV rays can negatively impact collagen production through various mechanisms. UV rays cause changes to DNA cells that are responsible for making collagen.
Smoking can cause premature aging and can generally affect your skin by reducing the production of collagen in your body.
It decreases the amount of oxygen being delivered to your tissues.
When this happens, your cells and tissues cannot regenerate, thus, they can be damaged and die.
According to a study from the Journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, this is also a reason why tobacco smoking can lead to premature wrinkles.
3) High sugar levels
High sugar levels can be acquired through your diet choices. When you have high levels of sugar, you can experience inflammation.
Eventually, this can lead to inflammation which can reduce the healing of your skin cells.
Aside from high sugar levels, consuming huge amounts of simple carbohydrates and processed meats can also be a culprit.
As humans, it is natural for us to experience stress. However, we have to control it as it can also affect our skin.
According to a study from Germany, stress is pro-inflammatory and can increase your levels of cortisol.
Based on a study from China, if you have high levels of cortisol, your body decreases its ability to produce collagen.
How to Naturally Increase Collagen Levels
It is possible to increase your body’s production of collagen without using supplements. Some of these ways include the following:
- Consume a healthy diet rich in amino acids, especially glycine and proline.
- Consider vitamin C, zinc, and copper. If you want to get these vitamins that can enhance collagen synthesis from foods, you can try citrus fruits, tomatoes, leafy greens, shellfish, nuts, and whole grains.
- You can also consume proline-rich foods such as chicken, beef, fish, dairy, eggs, and beans.
Based on a medical review from China, bone broth is rich in gelatin. As we all know, gelatin is a protein derived from collagen after it is cooked.
If you love to cook home meals, this is a great option if you want more collagen in your body as well.
Indeed, collagen supplements come with many benefits.
Aside from improving skin health, some of these benefits include muscle mass and bone loss prevention, joint stiffness relief, and enhanced teeth health.
Generally, the side effects of collagen are rare, which is why many people can consider them.
However, it is important to know the quality of these supplements as the other ingredients incorporated may cause adverse reactions.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can I use hyaluronic acid as an alternative for collagen?
Collagen and hyaluronic acid (HA) are both organic components that promote healthy connective tissues. So, yes, you can consider HA instead of collagen. However, some research says that collagen is better than hyaluronic acid.
Are collagen supplements approved by the FDA?
Unfortunately, the FDA does not regulate collagen supplements. Thus, there are no approved studies when it comes to using these products.
Can collagen support gut health?
Yes, the supplementation of collagen can support gut health. However, it is important to find the right dose for you before taking these supplements.