Top 7 benefits of taking collagen supplements
by Ezra •8 minutes read
Last updated: 18 Aug, 2023
As we age, our natural collagen production declines and our skin elasticity and joint health changes. Collagen supplements are often marketed for their potential to counteract the effects of ageing as it has the potential to strengthen our skin, nails, and hair and support joint, bone, muscle, and digestive health.
What is collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body, making up approximately 30% of all proteins and around 60% of cartilage. It plays a crucial role in providing and maintaining the elasticity, shape, strength, and structure of various connective tissues. Collagen is found throughout the body in the skin, bones, tendons, joints, ligaments, cartilage, blood vessels, and organs.
Types of collagen
There are 28 types of collagen in the human body, the most common being type I, II, and III, and IV. The vast majority of collagen supplements contain type I, II, and III.
Type I - Type I makes up to 90% of all collagen in the body. It is present in skin, bones, tendons, ligaments, hair, nails, eyes, organs, blood vessels, and teeth. It provides structural support, tensile strength, and resilience to these tissues.
Type II - Type II is found mainly in cartilage. It is essential for maintaining and protecting the strength and flexibility of joints.
Type III - Type III is the second most common type of collagen, supporting the structure of organs, arteries, and muscles. It contributes to the structural integrity and elasticity of these tissues.
Type IV - Type IV is found in the layers of the skin.
Age and collagen production
The production of collagen naturally decreases with age, beginning in the late 20’s to early 30’s at a rate of 1% a year. In the mid-30s to early 40’s, fine lines form on the face and the skin becomes dry. At age 50 and beyond, the changes in the skin's texture, appearance, and firmness become more pronounced. Wrinkles appear deeper, the skin sags, and joints are less flexible.
There are several lifestyle factors that can influence the body's ability to produce collagen:
Sun exposure - Long term, unprotected exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun can accelerate the breakdown of collagen and elastin fibres, leading to premature ageing and skin cancer. Using sunscreen and wearing protective clothing can help mitigate UV damage.
Smoking - Smoking generates harmful free radicals that cause oxidative stress, contributing to collagen breakdown and skin ageing. Smokers are more likely to have reduced lip fullness, nasolabial folds, and crow's feet. It also impairs blood flow, reducing the delivery of nutrients and oxygen that support collagen synthesis.
Alcohol consumption - Excessive alcohol consumption interferes with nutrient absorption and impairs the body’s ability to produce collagen, causing under-eye puffiness, volume loss in the face, and increased facial lines.
Stress - Chronic stress increases cortisol levels, possibly leading to the breakdown of collagen. Stress management techniques such as exercise, meditation, and relaxation can help mitigate these effects.
Dehydration - Dehydration reduces the skin's moisture content, making it appear less plump and elastic. Staying adequately hydrated is essential for skin health and collagen production.
Poor sleep - Poor sleep quality disrupts the body's natural repair processes, possibly including collagen production. Quality sleep is essential for the body's natural repair and regeneration processes.
Lack of physical activity - A sedentary lifestyle may reduce collagen production and compromise overall tissue health, so it is important to exercise regularly to promote collagen synthesis. Weight-bearing exercises also support bone health, which is closely linked to collagen function.
Poor diet - A poor diet can lead to deficiencies in nutrients like vitamin C, zinc, and copper which are all essential for collagen synthesis. Eating foods like citrus fruits, berries, bell peppers, broccoli, lean meats, fish, beans, and legumes will provide the amino acids necessary for collagen production.
Topical treatments - Using topical treatments that support collagen production, such as those containing retinoids or peptides, can complement your efforts to maintain healthy skin and reduce signs of aging.
Why you should take collagen supplements
Collagen supplements have gained popularity in recent years and there are several potential benefits associated with their consumption. These supplements come in various forms including powders, capsules, tablets, and liquids. The most common type is collagen peptides.
Collagen peptides - These are typically derived from animal sources such as bovine or marine collagen. This is broken down into smaller peptides through hydrolysis, making it easy for the body to absorb. Hydrolyzed collagen peptides are a common and well-absorbed form of collagen supplement.
Gelatine supplements - Gelatine is derived from collagen and is often used to make gummy candies and desserts.
Liquid collagen - Some collagen supplements are available in liquid form, making it easy to consume directly or add to beverages.
Supports skin health
Collagen is a major component of the skin and helps maintain its structure, firmness, elasticity and hydration. Studies prove that taking collagen supplements improves the hydration, elasticity, roughness, and density of skin.
Improves joint health
Collagen plays a key role in the composition of cartilage, the flexible tissue that cushions the joints and allows smooth movement. It provides strength, support, and elasticity to the connective tissues that make up the joints. Supplementing collagen may alleviate joint pain and discomfort associated with conditions like osteoarthritis, promoting joint mobility and reducing inflammation.
Improves bone health
Collagen is a significant component of bone tissue, providing structural support. Supplementation potentially improve bone density and reduces the risk of fractures, especially in postmenopausal women.
Improves hair and nail health
Collagen plays a large role in supporting the structure of hair and nails. It provides various amino acids that contribute to the synthesis of keratin, a protein present in hair and nails. Studies prove that taking collagen supplements will support the growth and strength of nails.
As collagen is also involved in the health of the skin, taking supplements may also help to maintain a healthy scalp environment and contribute to hair growth.
Supports wound healing
Collagen is involved in the body's wound healing process. The additional collagen provided by supplementation enhances healing as it provides the body with the necessary building blocks to speed up the repair process.
Increases muscle mass and recovery time
Collagen plays a role in the structure of muscles and connective tissues. It is a protein that contains amino acids, which are essential components for muscle growth, repair, and health.
As it supports wound healing, collagen supplementation can also indirectly help with exercise-related discomfort.
Improves digestive health
Collagen is a component of the gut's connective tissues. Collagen supplements improve gut health, digestion, support the intestinal and stomach lining, and reduce symptoms of conditions like leaky gut.
Collagen can be found in the walls of blood vessels, contributing to their structure. Supplementing collagen can keep arteries strong and healthy, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and heart attacks. It also protects against inflammations and balances blood pressure.
Health and safety
If you're considering taking collagen supplements, it's advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before doing so. They will help you make an informed decision based on your individual health needs. This is particularly necessary for those who have pre-existing health conditions or are taking other medications or supplements.
It's important to note that while many people report positive experiences with collagen supplements, individual responses can vary depending on the type of collagen used, dosage, and differences in metabolism and absorption. Scientific research on the benefits and the side effects of collagen supplementation are still ongoing.
Collagen supplements are not a substitute for a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle. Always look for high-quality products from reputable manufacturers.
Disclaimer: We provide this information for educational purposes only. No content on this site should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
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