Collagen is sexy. In fact I’d say it’s darn sexy because it’s an essential fibrous protein needed to preserve our skin, bones, and connective tissues, and provides elasticity, strength, and structural support for all of them.
Our body’s production of collagen begins to decline around age 40, which is why wrinkles, sagging skin, and weakening joints also start to make their appearance around the same time.
That doesn’t mean we should just sit back and let nature take its course. It is possible to take collagen supplements and adopt other measures to help enhance and support our body’s natural supply of this protein so we can renew and repair our skin and joints and thus enjoy the health benefits of collagen.
How should we take collagen?
Collagen is available in supplement form. When buying collagen supplements, consider its source. If you are allergic to fish, for example, you should avoid collagen that is derived from marine animals. Check the supplement label. If the collagen is a type 1 or 3, then it likely came from fish, egg whites, or bovine (cattle). Type 2 collagen usually comes from chicken. If the company does not indicate the source, you can call them or choose a product that provides full disclosure. Collagen supplements typically don’t cause any side effects and are considered safe.
What are the health benefits of collagen?
If you were to increase the amount of collagen in your body, which health benefits might you enjoy?
Multiple improvements in skin. Perhaps the area you will most appreciate the benefits of collagen supplements, is your skin. Numerous studies have shown that use of collagen hydrolysate (a common collagen supplement) can improve skin elasticity, moisture, roughness, and dryness.
One study, for example, showed that 2.5 to 5 grams of the supplement used once daily for eight weeks provided significant improvement. As a side benefit of this impact of collagen on the skin, you also may notice an improvement in cellulite and stretch marks, which are related to better elasticity.
Less joint pain and deterioration. When we lose collagen, a side effect is an inability for our ligaments and tendons to move and respond as they did in the past. Therefore, we can experience stiffness, swollen joints, and more. The introduction of collagen to your joints can help halt this loss of mobility and the pain that accompanies it.
Two of the more common conditions associated with joint pain and immobility are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Study findings have shown that taking type 2 collagen supplements can help with rheumatoid arthritis by reducing swelling in tender joints. When it comes to osteoarthritis, type 2 collagen supplements have demonstrated an ability to improve daily activities, including climbing stairs, sleeping, and quality of life.
Healing leaky gut. Collagen can be helpful if you suffer from leaky gut, in which toxins enter your digestive tract uninvited, causing inflammation and other damaging actions. Collagen has the ability to develop connective tissue, which in turn protects the gastrointestinal lining and the sensitive microbiome.
For example, in patients with inflammatory bowel disease, collagen levels are low. Therefore, supplementation with collagen may help improve the gut health of these individuals. Collagen also helps the intestinal tract absorb water, which assists in the free movement of waste from the body.
Enhanced metabolism and energy. When you take collagen supplements, you provide your body with glycine, which is available in high levels in this protein. Glycine helps form muscle tissue and increases metabolism and also assists in restoring energy and vitality, improving digestive and nervous system function, and slowing the effects of aging.
Strengthened nails and hair. Insufficient levels of collagen has been linked to hair loss and splitting nails. Hair loss is a huge concern among women (and men), so it’s important to know there is some research indicating that collagen supplementation could help in the treatment of hair loss and other skin-related diseases.
Detox of the liver and body. We ingest scores of toxins and other harmful substances into our bodies every day, so it’s important to detox whenever possible. Collagen comes to the rescue for removing these unwelcome agents as well as improving blood flow and supporting heart health. Glycine is responsible for reducing damage to the liver from foreign substances, including food additives, medications, and alcohol.
Protection for the heart. Along with glycine, collagen also contains proline, an amino acid that helps repair arteries and control blood pressure. The presence of proline also helps prevent the accumulation of plaque, which in turn prevents the development of arteriosclerosis. Yet one more amino acid in collagen is arginine, which helps with the production of nitric oxide and the opening of arteries and relaxation of blood vessels.
If these benefits sound good to you, it may be time to consider adding collagen supplements to your lifestyle.
[Editor’s Note: NeoCell Health, our partner, offers many collagen supplements. They have flavorless powders you can add to your morning coffee or Beauty Infusions that you can add to water or to a smoothie.]
Axe J. What is collagen?
Barakat HA, Hamza AH. Glycine alleviates liver injury induced by deficiency in methionine and or choline in rats. European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences 2012 Jun; 16(6): 728-36
Chen P et al. Lack of collagen VI promotes wound-induced hair growth. Journal of Investigative Dermatology 2015 Oct; 135(10): 2358-67
Crowley DC et al. Safety and efficacy of undenatured type II collagen in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee: a clinical trial. International Journal of Medical Sciences 2009; 6(6): 312-21
Koutroubakis IE et al. Serum laminin and collagen IV in inflammatory bowel disease. Journal of Clinical Pathology 2002 Nov; 56(11): 817-20
Proksch E et al. Oral supplementation on specific collagen peptides has beneficial effects on human skin physiology: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Skin Pharmacology and Physiology 2014; 27(1): 47-55
Trentham DE et al. Effects of oral administration of type II collagen on rheumatoid arthritis. Science 1993 Sep 24; 261(5129): 1727-30