Collagen is one of the most abundant proteins present in the body and is the major component of the connective tissues that make up many of the body parts, including your skin, ligaments, tendons, and muscles. Collagen has many important roles to play in the body, such as keeping the structure of your skin firm and strengthening your bones. In recent years, collagen supplements have become hugely popular amongst people want to have better skin. Most of these supplements are hydrolyzed, meaning the collagen is broken down in these supplements, making it easier for the body to absorb the collagen. Apart from collagen supplements, there are also many foods you can have that will increase your levels of collagen. However, taking collagen supplements is found to be easier by most people. Consuming collagen supplements has a lot of health benefits, but at the same time, there might some side effects as well. We take a look at the benefits of taking collagen supplements and its side effects.
Benefits of Taking Collagen Supplements
We first take a look at the benefits of taking collagen supplements.
Improved Skin Health
Collagen is one of the most important components of your skin. Collagen is responsible for strengthening your skin and also benefits the hydration and elasticity of your skin. However, as you continue to age, the body’s production of collagen decreases, causing dry skin and formation of fine lines and wrinkles.
Many studies have shown that collagen supplements or collagen peptides contain the amount of collagen that your body requires for slowing down the aging of your skin by reducing dryness and appearance of lines and wrinkles. One of these studies was carried out by the University of Kiel in Germany.
A study by the Department of Dermatology at the University of Kiel in Germany had women participants who were given a collagen supplement that contains 2.5 to 5 grams of collagen for roughly eight weeks. These participants experienced less skin dryness and also experienced an increase in skin elasticity as compared to the women who did not take the collagen supplement.
Another study done by the MINERVA Research Labs found that women who drank a beverage which had a collagen supplement mixed into it for 12 weeks experienced a sharp increase in skin hydration. They also observed a significant reduction in the depth of wrinkles as compared to the control group.
The fact that collagen supplements help reduce wrinkles is attributed to the supplement’s ability to stimulate the body to produce collagen on its own as well. Additionally, when you take collagen supplements, this also boosts the production of several other proteins in the body that are responsible for helping maintain the structure of your skin, such as fibrillin and elastin.
There are also several claims that indicate collagen supplements are beneficial for preventing skin conditions such as acne and others, though there is a lack of scientific evidence supporting these claims.
Collagen Supplements Helps with Joint Pain
Collagen is helpful in maintaining the integrity of the body’s cartilage. Cartilage is the rubber-like tissue that provides protection to your joints. As the level of collagen decreases in the body with age, the risk of developing degenerative joint conditions such as osteoarthritis also goes up.
A study by the University Of Illinois College Of Medicine at Chicago showed that consuming collagen supplements regularly may help provide relief in the symptoms of osteoarthritis and also lower the overall level of joint pain in the body.
Another 24-week-long study done by the Department of Nutrition and Sports Nutrition for Athletics and the Penn State University revolved around adults who took two grams of collagen every day for 70 days. The study found that the participants who consumed the collagen supplements had a drastic reduction in joint pain and were also able to engage in more physical activity than those who did not take the supplement.
Based on many studies, researchers have theorized that the intake of collagen supplements helps this collagen to build up in the cartilage and therefore it stimulates the body’s tissues to produce more collagen.
Experts have also suggested that regular use of collagen supplements helps lower inflammation, reduces pain, and also provides better support to your joints.
If you want to try taking collagen supplements for its pain-relieving benefits, then you should ideally begin with a dose of 8-12 grams every day.
Collagen Supplements Can Prevent Bone Loss
Bones in the body are primarily made up of collagen. Collagen provides bones with structure and also provides strength to your bones. With age as the level of collagen keeps decreasing, so does your bone mass. This can cause conditions such as osteoarthritis, which is a direct result of low bone density and is likely to increase the risk of bone fractures.
Studies by the Department of Nutrition, Food and Exercise Sciences at the Florida State University have shown that consuming collagen supplements regularly has some effects on the body that helps prevent the breakdown of bones, inhibiting the condition of osteoporosis.
In another study also carried out by the Florida State University, it was shown that women who either take a calcium supplement or a collagen supplement every day for 12 months have dramatically lower blood levels of proteins that cause bone breakdown, as compared to women who only take a calcium supplement.
Collagen Supplements Can Increase Muscle Mass
Nearly ten percent of the muscle tissues are made up of collagen. Collagen is required by the body to keep the muscles working properly and also keeps them strong.
Studies have shown that collagen supplements help increase muscle mass in individuals who are suffering from sarcopenia, a condition that causes loss of muscle mass as you age.
A 12 weeks study by the University of Freiburg in Germany had 27 frail men as participants. The participants each took 15 grams of collagen supplements while simultaneously taking part in an exercise routine daily for the time period of the study. Compare to men who did not take any collagen, but continued to exercise, the participants who did both gained a lot of muscle mass and strength.
Experts have suggested that consuming collagen is likely to improve the synthesis of muscle proteins such as creatine. It is also believed that this can stimulate muscle growth, especially after exercise.
Good For The Heart
Researchers believe that collagen supplements may help lower the risk of heart conditions. This is attributed to the fact that collagen provides structure to the coronary arteries, which are the main blood vessels that carry blood from the heart to the other parts of the body. Without sufficient amount of collagen, these arteries can become fragile and weak.
However, more research is still needed to learn the exact role of collagen supplements play in boosting heart health.
Side Effects of Collagen Supplements
As of today, there are not many known side effects and complications associated with taking collagen supplements. However, there are some types of collagen supplements which are made from fish, eggs, and shellfish, which are known food allergens. People who have food allergies to these ingredients should avoid taking these collagen supplements.
There are also some reports that collagen supplements end up leaving a bad taste in the mouth that tends to linger on for hours.
Collagen supplements may also cause digestive side effects, such as heartburn and feeling full or bloated.
However, irrespective of these small side effects, collagen supplements appear to be safe for use by most people.
Taking collagen supplements is linked with many types of health benefits and also have very few known side effects. These supplements are known to significantly improve your skin health and also help increase muscle mass, relieve joint pain, and prevent bone loss as well.
There are many other reported benefits of collagen supplements, but more research is still required to firmly establish the science behind these benefits.