Collagen Benefits

Collagen benefits include rejuvenating skin, cushioning joints and strengthening bones and muscles. Some studies show collagen supplements made from hydrolyzed, easy-to-absorb collagen may provide benefits from healthy skin to building more muscle mass.

Last Modified: September 5, 2023
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What Are the Proven Benefits of Collagen?

Collagen is the main structural protein of the body’s connective tissues, including the skin. Our bodies produce collagen naturally from protein and nutrients in the foods we eat. There are several types of collagen and each type has its own job. For example, type I collagen is most famous for keeping skin supple and type II collagen helps to cushion joints.

Overall, the research on taking collagen supplements is lacking, and many of the published studies come from manufacturers of collagen products. A handful of studies have shown that collagen could possibly benefit the skin, joints, bones and muscles.

It’s important to note that the FDA does not classify collagen supplements and many other supplements and natural remedies as medication. They are instead regulated as food, and as a result, their contents are not monitored or standardized with the same rigor as pharmaceuticals are. Manufacturers aren’t required to do clinical trials before selling supplements.

Improves Skin Health

Collagen makes up a large part of the skin. One of the reasons that our skin loses elasticity as we age is because collagen production decreases. Some reports may suggest collagen benefits for the skin, and that oral collagen supplements could reduce the effects of skin aging. 

In a study associated with supplement brand Newtree published in Nutrients, women ages 40 to 60 took 1000 milligrams of an oral collagen peptide or placebo once daily for 12 weeks. Results showed improved skin hydration as early as after 6 weeks of intake in the collagen group. After 12 weeks, wrinkling and elasticity also improved.

In a study from researchers associated with the University of Kiel, Skin Investigation and Technology Hamburg, which conducts research for the cosmetic industry, as well as the University of São Paulo published in Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, women aged 35 to 55 who took 2.5 to 5 grams of collagen in a supplement for 8 weeks had a significant increase in skin elasticity and less skin dryness.

Collagen Benefits for Joint Pain Relief

Collagen found in cartilage between joints provides a natural cushion between bones. Decreased collagen in the joints, in addition to calcification and other age-related degenerative changes within cartilage are major contributors to the stiffness and pain which is associated with aging joints. These changes can also cause the development of osteoarthritisa chronic degenerative condition of the joints.

A study published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, reported that athletes who suffered from knee pain took 5 grams of collagen peptides or placebo a day for 12 weeks. Activity-related knee pain improved in the collagen group, but resting knee pain did not.

Reported in a study in Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, adults with osteoarthritis pain took 2 grams of hydrolyzed collagen daily for 70 days. The collagen group experienced improvement in physical activities on days 35 and 70.

Prevents Bone Loss

Collagen allows bones to be flexible, which helps to keep them strong. As collagen decreases with age bones become smaller and more brittle. This makes bones more vulnerable to fracture. 

According to some studies, supplements containing collagen may help prevent the breakdown of bone. Some studies have also indicated that the benefits of collagen supplementation could include reduced bone degradation and increased bone formation.

One study found women with age-related decline in bone mineral density (BMD) who took 5 grams of collagen daily for 12 months increased their BMD. Low BMD is a potential sign of weak bones.

Increases Muscle Mass

Up to 10% of muscle is made of collagen. A few studies suggest increased body and muscle mass is a benefit of taking collagen supplements whole also exercising. 

Young men who took 15 grams of collagen peptides every day within 60 minutes of a training session for 12 weeks resulted in a more pronounced increase in body mass versus those who did not take the collagen in one study.

Similarly, in another study in the British Journal of Nutrition, older men took 15 grams of collagen with strength training daily for 12 weeks. The men who took the collagen gained muscle strength and muscle mass, while losing fat.

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Other Health Benefits of Collagen

There are a few other potential health benefit claims for collagen supplements which haven’t been adequately studied. These claims range from hair growth to heart benefits.

Health benefit claims without extensive research include:
  • Gut health – Some health practitioners say collagen supplements may help treat leaky gut syndrome, though there are no studies.
  • Brain health – Though there is no scientific evidence, some claim collagen helps reduce anxiety and improve mood.
  • Weight loss – There have been no studies to show collagen speeds up the metabolism or promotes weight loss.
  • Thicker hair and stronger nails – Limited evidence shows collagen peptides may reduce the frequency of broken nails, but there isn’t reliable evidence for hair growth.
  • Heart health – Limited evidence showed taking collagen may reduce artery stiffness.

More double-blind, randomized and placebo-controlled trials, the gold standard for medical studies, are needed to determine the role a collagen supplement might potentially safely and beneficially play in people’s overall health.

How to Add More Collagen to Your Diet

While not all experts agree on the benefits of collagen supplements, many experts agree one of the best ways to boost collagen production is to eat foods that stimulate collagen production. You can eat foods rich in collagen as well as foods containing nutrients that help the body make collagen.

Foods that contain collagen include:
  • Animal bone broth made from simmering bones in water and a small amount of vinegar anywhere from 4 to 24 hours.
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Pork
  • Red meat
  • Dairy
  • Eggs

Plants don’t make collagen, but they do contain nutrients and amino acids that help the body make it. Foods that contain zinc, vitamin C and sulfur are especially good for assisting with collagen production.

Vitamin-C and Sulfur rich foods include:
  • Nuts
  • Legumes
  • Soy
  • Broccoli
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Berries
  • Leafy greens
  • Tomatoes
  • Whole grains

Take Collagen Supplements

“Your body has been making collagen your whole life,” according to Dr. Elizabeth Bradley, Medical Director of Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine. “Products to boost your collagen levels may be helpful, but first consider if your body needs more.”

Speak to your doctor about any safety concerns, possible interactions with other medications you take, your personal health history or any questions you may have about research on the effectiveness of any product before consuming it.

For those who do wish to take supplements, taking collagen peptide or hydrolyzed collagen in the form of collagen powder vs pills may make it easier to digest. Many people use powders and dissolve them in smoothies, beverages, sauces and soups.

How Often Should You Take Collagen?

In most studies, people take 2 to 15 grams of collagen each day for at least 12 weeks, but there is no officially recommended amount of collagen or a designated collagen regimen.

The optimum amount of collagen and how often to take it to receive collagen benefits hasn’t been established. Consult your physician to determine their specific recommendations for you.

Please seek the advice of a medical professional before making health care decisions.