What is Collagen & What are Its Benefits and Side Effects of Taking Collagen Supplements?

What is Collagen?

Collagen is a protein that is responsible for several biological functions, one being providing structural support to the connective tissues, muscle, and skin.(1) It is responsible for skin elasticity and also plays a role in joint and bone health.(2)

The nutrients that increase the production of collagen are vitamin C, proline, glycine, and copper. Additionally, the body needs high-quality proteins containing amino acids to make a new protein. Foods such as meat, dairy, legumes, and tofu are excellent sources of amino acids.

Collagen is produced naturally in the body, which is reduced over time. This leads to loosening of the skin, as the person ages and wrinkles begin to form.

There are a few factors that lead to damage to the collagen that includes:

  • Eating excess sugar
  • Being out in sun for long hours
  • Smoking
  • Autoimmune disorders such as lupus

There are many food supplements that contain collagen and con be consumed to keep up its level in the body. People who desire wrinkle-free skin even while aging often take collagen supplements to increase their intake.

Benefits of Collagen Supplements

Collagen supplements are consumed by people to add more collagen to the diet. These supplements undergo the process of hydrolyzation making them easier to be absorbed by the body.

These supplements are available in the form of tablets, capsules, and powders.

Hydrolyzed collagen and gelatin are the types of collagen supplements that have gained maximum popularity. Gelatin is known to be formed when the collagen is cooked.

Collagen supplements offer various health benefits, a few of which are mentioned below.

  1. Skin Health Benefits of Collagen

    Most people consume collagen supplements to improve the look and overall health of the skin. It is believed by then that these supplements reduce the effects of aging by adding moisture to the skin and improving elasticity. A study was conducted on a few females. Many of them consumed a mixture of vitamins, minerals, and hydrolyzed collagen. It was observed that compared to the control group the women who drank this mixture had a significant reduction in wrinkles and improved skin elasticity.(3)

    Another study was done to look for the effect of collagen on female skin. Those who consumed collagen supplements had higher elasticity and moisture levels.(4) There are also a few claims about collagen being effective in reducing acne as well.

  2. Improves Joint Health

    As a person ages, the spongy cartilage of the joints starts wearing off. Collagen supplements play a role in promoting joint health and restoring bone density in people with osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.(5) It was also found that collagen supplements helped in reducing joint pain.

  3. Collagen is Beneficial in Increasing Muscle Mass

    Collagen supplements help in increasing muscle mass. A study revealed the positive effects of taking collagen while exercising. It helps in increasing muscle mass and strength.(6) It was theorized by the researchers that collagen stimulates protein production and enhances muscle growth.

  4. Benefits of Collagen in Preventing Bone Loss

    A significant amount of bone structure is made of collagen therefore it can help in keeping bones strong.

    The bones get weaker as the person ages because the collagen production slows down and leads to the development of osteoporosis.

    Collagen supplements can help in keeping up bone density and strength. A study found that females taking collagen or calcium supplements for a year had lower levels of the protein that is responsible for the breakdown of bones in the blood.(7)

  5. Supports Heart Health

    Collagen supplements keep the cardiovascular system healthy. A study found that people consuming collagen supplements had a significant reduction in artery stiffness and a reduction in low-density lipoprotein.(8) This can promote heart health.

  6. Other Benefits

    Additional benefits of using collagen supplements are:

    • Maintaining heart health
    • Improving mood
    • Reducing anxiety
    • Promoting nail and hair growth
    • Maintaining a healthy weight

Side Effects of Taking Collagen Supplements

Taking collagen supplements is considered safe by health professionals. But, it is important to speak with a doctor before starting any new supplements or increasing the dose of any current supplement.

The general side effect of collagen supplements include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Rashes
  • Heaviness in the stomach

Collagen is an important protein that provides structure to the many parts of the body. It can be naturally produced by the body by consuming food and nutrients. If the body is not able to produce it in enough amount as required, you can supplement it.

Make sure that you speak with your doctor about the benefits and side effects before starting the collagen supplements.