Collagen for Women

Potential benefits of collagen for women include healthier hair, skin, preserving bone and increasing muscle mass. While some studies have shown collagen supplements may help women get healthier, more research is needed to determine the effectiveness of collagen supplement use in women.

Last Modified: September 5, 2023
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What Makes Collagen Important?

Collagen plays an important role in keeping cells and tissues elastic and supple. It’s present in the body’s tendons, ligaments, hair, skin and muscles. It’s even present in bones and acts as a scaffold for bone cells. There are at least 28 different kinds of collagen in the body that researchers classify by type depending on what parts of the body the collagen is found in.

The body makes collagen naturally, but its production decreases with age beginning in a person’s mid-20s. Most women experience a decrease of about 30% in their collagen production in the first five years of menopause. Decreased collagen production may lead to less supple skin, stiffer joints and thinner hair with age.

In theory, collagen supplements, such as collagen powder or collagen peptides, may help women replace collagen lost with age. But while some industry-sponsored studies show promising results, more research is needed to show substantial benefits in larger groups of people over time.

Can Collagen Supplements Benefit Women?

The consensus from independent experts is that some studies show collagen supplements may benefit women, but manufacturers may market their products as having more benefits than scientific literature has been able to show thus far. For example, collagen supplements for women typically stress healthier hair, skin and nails, but there isn’t enough independent research to say collagen for hair growth or nail growth is substantially effective.

However, experts agree that there is no real harm in taking collagen supplements for potential benefits. Adding supplements to a healthy lifestyle may benefit some women in specific areas of women’s health such as keeping skin hydrated and supple. It may also prevent bone and joint degeneration issues that affects women, such as osteoporosis or osteoarthritis.

Young women may also benefit from collagen supplements during pregnancy and athletic activity. Some industry-funded researchers suggest that taking collagen supplements may help a woman’s skin during and after pregnancy because hormones soften collagen fibers during pregnancy and could increase loose skin and stretch marks. One study published in Nutrients found young, physically active women who took about 5 grams of collagen peptides a day for 12 weeks reduced activity-related knee pain compared with placebo.

Additionally, emerging science shows collagen supplements may help women in the areas of post-menopausal support, estrogen balance and muscle growth but research is still lacking.

Can Collagen Provide Post-Menopausal Support?

A few studies suggest collagen supplements may provide post-menopausal support by improving skin’s suppleness lost with age or exposure to the sun’s UV rays. Post-menopausal women are also at increased risk for degenerative bone issues such as osteopenia and osteoporosis, which causes bones to lose density and become brittle.

A 2022 study published in Food Science and Human Wellness suggested that collagen peptides have great potential in improving the effects of UV-induced photoaging of skin.

In a study published in Nutrients, 64 women who took collagen peptides for 12 weeks saw improvements in skin wrinkling, hydration and elasticity. Another study published in Nutrients found postmenopausal women with age-related loss on bone mineral density who took collagen peptides for 12 months saw increases in bone mineral density in the spine and femoral neck.

How Do Collagen Supplements Impact Estrogen?

A handful of studies show a relationship between estrogen and collagen. Scientists haven’t discovered exactly how they interact with each other, and more studies are needed. According to Cleveland Clinic, when estrogen drops, so does the skin’s collagen production.

So far, research hasn’t shown that collagen supplements increase or decrease estrogen production. However, in one animal study published in International Journal of Medical Sciences, scientists fed collagen hydrolysate to rats designed to mimic menopausal women with declining estrogen. The supplemented rats reduced their body weight and fat tissue, but supplementation affected their glucose, calcium and blood lipids.

Collagen Supplements May Support Muscle Growth

Similar to claims that collagen for men can increase muscle growth, more research is needed on the benefits of collagen supplements for muscle growth in women. Some early research is promising, especially in premenopausal women.

One study partially funded by a collagen manufacturer published in Nutrients found that premenopausal women who did resistance training three times a week for twelve weeks and took 15 grams of collagen peptides each day significantly increased their fat-free body mass. They also increased their hand grip and leg strength.

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Possible Risks of Collagen Supplements for Women

Generally, collagen supplements don’t pose a health risk, but some people reported digestive issues or rashes after taking collagen supplements. Depending on the manufacturer and type of collagen, the products may contain contaminants, unlisted ingredients and allergens.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn’t require clinical trials from supplement makers and doesn’t regulate supplements as rigorously as pharmaceuticals. There are no warning labels on supplement packages for potential side effects. Make sure to check the source of the collagen type you decide to take to make sure it isn’t coming from a source that could cause allergies, such as fish.

Some collagen manufacturers use third party labs, such as NSF International’s Certified for Sport program, to certify their product’s purity and quality. It’s a good idea to look for collagen supplement brands with these certifications. Make sure you check with your doctor if you decide to start a collagen supplementation regimen, especially if you are taking medication or have any chronic health conditions.

Adding Collagen to Your Diet

Men and women typically have the same guidelines for adding collagen to their diets, but women need fewer calories and require more vitamins and minerals, such as folate and iron.

If you are trying to eat more foods that support your body’s natural collagen production, choose leaner meats and lots of foods rich in vitamins and minerals, such as dark leafy greens. Bone broth, dairy, eggs and gelatin are foods naturally rich in collagen.
Adding seeds and some types of nuts will provide healthy fats and more vitamins and minerals. Make sure you get foods rich in zinc and vitamin C, which can also help your body make collagen.

Including a collagen supplement in your meals and beverages may support collagen production, however, there’s not enough scientific evidence yet to show that ingesting collagen directly increases collagen production.

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