Collagen supplements are some of the most widely used supplements on the market and are rising in popularity.
With this rise in popularity comes many questions about what exactly collagen supplements are, what they can do for us, and whether they actually work.
What is Collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein found in the human body and helps to provide strength and structure to the body. It is a major component of connective tissues and aids in giving elasticity and strength to many of the body's structures like the joints, bones, and skin.
There are two types of collagen, endogenous and exogenous. Endogenous collagen is naturally occurring collagen which the body produces while exogenous collagen comes from outside sources like supplements. Healthy levels of collagen contribute to:
- Joint health
- Skin elasticity
- Higher bone density
- Cardiovascular health
Do collagen supplements work?
If collagen is the most abundant protein found in our body that we can naturally produce, then the question remains whether or not supplements are beneficial. The answer is, yes.
While we can make the amino acids necessary for collagen production by consuming collagen rich foods like eggs, dairy products, and fish, studies have shown that consuming dietary collagen supplements can be more effective. This is because supplements provide more amino acids than you would get from consuming collagen rich food which then communicates to your cells to produce more collagen.
Collagen supplementation has been studied over the last several decades and has been found to provide many health benefits.
Benefits of Collagen Supplements
Collagen is a major component of your skin - playing a key role in strengthening skin, as well as in elasticity and hydration. As we continue to age, our body produces less and less collagen which can lead to dry skin and the formation of wrinkles.
Since collagen supplementation has been shown to increase the body’s collagen production - helping to reduce dryness, wrinkles, and improve elasticity - it would make sense that it may improve skin quality and appearance by slowing down the ageing process.
Loss of collagen is a common reason for joint pain in many people. Some studies suggest that collagen supplements may reduce overall joint pain.
Research shows that supplemental collagen may accumulate in cartilage, stimulating collagen production. In turn, this may lead to lower inflammation, better joint support, and reduced pain.
Your bones are made up of mostly collagen, giving them their structure. As collagen production reduces with age, so does bone mass which can lead to conditions such as osteoporosis - a condition characterised by low bone density and higher risk of fractures.
Collagen supplements are shown to inhibit the breakdown of bones that leads to osteoporosis. Daily collagen supplements can help make your bones denser, slowing the ageing process down and helping your body to produce new bone.
Hair and Nails
While limited research has been done, taking collagen supplements may help increase the strength of your nails by preventing brittleness.
Additionally, a study showed significant increase in the length, density, and quantity of hair in women who took daily collagen supplements.
Because collagen provides structure to your arteries, without enough collagen, arteries may become less flexible and elastic. Collagen supplements may help reduce the risk of heart conditions by encouraging more elasticity in your arteries.
Other Health Benefits
Collagen intake may also help with:
- Gut health: This supplement helps to create a supportive lining in the stomach and throughout the digestive tract, relieving symptoms of leaky gut syndrome.
- Brain health: A certain type of collagen - collagen VI - has been found to protect brains cells against proteins widely thought to cause Alzheimer's disease. Collagen may also act as a mood booster, improving symptoms caused by anxiety.
- Weight loss: Collagen may contribute to a faster metabolism while also inducing a feeling of fullness.
Side Effects of Collagen
Collagen supplements are generally well tolerated but it is important to keep in mind that they are often made from common food allergens like fish, shellfish, and eggs. Those with allergies to these foods should avoid supplements made with these ingredients.
Common side effects from taking collagen supplements can include bloating or heartburn. It is always a good idea to speak with your doctor before adding supplements to your diet.
Collagen is one of many proteins that the body makes that plays a vital role in the structure and function of skin, bones, cartilage, and connective tissue.
While your body does produce collagen naturally, evidence shows that taking collagen supplements may help improve the health and appearance of your skin, joints, and more.
Even though age-related collagen loss is unavoidable, combining supplements with a healthy diet and regular exercise, can help you mitigate collagen and bone loss as you age.Choosing the right supplements to fit your lifestyle is important, take a look at our selection of organic vitamins and supplements to make that choice easier.