THE TOP BENEFITS OF TAKING COLLAGEN, ACCORDING TO SCIENCE
Collagen is a major buzzword these days and can be found in countless products. The benefits you may have heard about include hair, skin, and nails - oh my! But, it goes much deeper than that.
As we get older, starting in our twenties, our body produces less collagen at a declining rate of 1.5% per year. This leads to signs of aging such as wrinkles, dry skin, brittle hair and nails, weaker joints and muscles, and digestive issues. Science shows that by ingesting collagen, we can replenish collagen levels to combat the aging process and gain the benefits that may follow. Think of collagen like glue - it holds our body together by giving structure to our connective cells and tissue. Our bodies depend on collagen to do things like keep skin hydrated and plump, hair and nails healthy, joints robust, muscles strong, and digestive system working properly - to name a few. Collagen is a vital protein that makes up 30% of the total protein in our bodies, 80% of our skin, hair, muscles, joints, and 90% of our bone mass. In other terms, it’s pretty important.
Up until recent, mainstream usage of collagen has been mainly known as lotions, topicals, and injections. This has misguidedly led people to perceive collagen as something to apply on the skin as opposed to something to ingest. Since collagen is created inside the body, products that contain collagen such as lotions and topicals don’t have the same effects as consuming it.
That said, when we consume collagen, we can regenerate cells and tissue throughout the body for benefits in appearance, health, and well-being.
BENEFITS OF TAKING COLLAGEN
Collagen helps rejuvenate the skin and strengthen skin cells by replenishing connective tissue.
As seen in the photo above, this restoring of cells occurs in the dermis layer of skin. Our body uses collagen to help hold up our skin cells, which tightens and smooths out the outer layer of skin while improving elasticity. With this strengthening of cells, our skin can lock in moisture better to keep it hydrated, plump, and looking youthful.
Increases skin hydration and plumpness
Diminishes appearance of wrinkles
Improves skin texture and tone
Can diminish look of dark eye circles
Reduces appearance of cellulite and stretch marks
Much like skin, our hair undergoes chronological aging. Hair is primarily made up of a protein called keratin and our bodies use amino acids to build keratin - some, of which are found in collagen such as arginine. We can increase hair follicle regeneration by consuming amino acids found in collagen, which increases abundant protein intake to build more keratin for stronger, healthier, and more hydrated hair.
Collagen makes up about 70% of the dermis layer of our skin, which is the same layer where the root of each hair follicle is located. So, when our bodies have abundant levels of collagen, we can maintain a healthy dermis and combat hair thinning and hair loss, while strengthening hair follicles.
In addition to aging, research shows that free radicals can damage hair follicles. When our bodies have too many free radicals, it can cause damage to our cells, proteins, and DNA. Our bodies’ defense against free radicals declines with age and the older we get, the more we are susceptive to hair damage. Moreover, antioxidants help the body fight against free radicals to promote healthier and stronger hair. Studies show that collagen has antioxidant properties and can fight free radicals - hence, supporting healthy hair.
Strengthens hair follicles
Combats hair thinning
May stimulate thicker hair growth
Helps decrease hair brittleness
Our nails also undergo changes as we age, which include brittleness, possible discoloration, and weaker, thinner nails. One of the most vital amino acids for nail growth, arginine, is found in collagen. Studies show that collagen helps increase nail growth, reduce the brittleness of nails, and decrease the frequency of nails breaking. So, taking collagen might just give you long, strong, healthy nails.
Stimulates nail growth
Reduces brittleness of nails
Decreases frequency of nails breaking
JOINTS AND BONES
Have you ever felt stiffness or pain when you move? That’s likely due to the loss of collagen. When it comes to joints and bones, collagen is crucial to keep them strong and healthy. Studies have found that collagen helps reduce joint pain and the risk of joint deterioration. Think of ingesting collagen similarly to lubricating a creaky door hinge. Collagen helps our joints and bones working properly and smoothly. It helps hold our bones together to make our joints move more easily.
Decreases joint pain
Reduces risk of joint deterioration
Regenerates bone tissue
Improves quality and health of bones
Collagen is a major component of muscle tissue. Science shows that our bodies’ process for healing torn or ruptured muscles includes the regeneration of muscle fibers and the production of connective scar tissue. Collagen helps with this process, since collagen helps restore connective tissue throughout the body. About one-third of the protein found in collagen is glycine. This amino acid helps form creatine, which is known to promote healthy muscles. Moreover, studies have found that consuming collagen helps increase lean muscle mass and may increase muscle strength, especially when working out.
Aids with muscle recovery
Restores muscle tissue
Can increase muscle strength
Increases lean muscle mass
METABOLISM AND ENERGY
Collagen contains glycine, which is an amino acid known to form muscle tissue by converting glucose into energy to feed muscle cells. This, in turn, can help boost metabolism and energy production. Previously mentioned, collagen is known to increase lean muscle mass, which, in turn, can give your metabolism a boost because muscle burns more calories than fat.
Increases energy production
DIGESTION & GUT HEALTH
Collagen helps heal the lining of our gastrointestinal tract (GI tract), aka our digestive system and gut. This is important because science shows that our gut health is linked to our overall health and well-being. Moreover, many diseases and health issues are traced back to poor gut health. Our gut plays a crucial role in various gastrointestinal diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Glutamine, an amino acid found in collagen, is known to restore bowel functioning. According to Dr. Nicole Avena, collagen is a hydrophilic molecule (has an attraction to water and acidic molecules) and ingesting it improves our digestion and can help food move through the GI tract more smoothly - helping to regulate bowel movements.
As we age, we’re more prone to a leaky gut (intestinal permeability), which is a condition where bacteria toxins and acids “leak” through our digestive tract. This may lead to bloating, low energy, brain fog, weight gain, headaches, joint pain, food sensitivities, low metabolism, digestive problems, and skin issues such as acne, eczema, or rosacea - to name a few. Glutamine has been found to help prevent inflammation and help heal a leaky gut.
That said, collagen helps support a healthy digestive system and lines our GI tract, which, in turn, can help boost overall health.
Improves digestion and gut health
Balances bowel movements
IMMUNITY & OVERALL HEALTH
As previously mentioned, our overall health has a lot to do with our gut. Since consuming collagen helps line our gastrointestinal tract, this, in turn, can help boost our immune system. So, having a healthy gut supports a healthy immune system.
APPETITE AND WEIGHT
One of the main reasons why we consume protein is to help keep our bodies full and nourished. Collagen does this since, it is low in fat and high in protein, which helps keep us full and satisfied. This, in turn, can help reduce cravings. Studies have found that taking collagen increases the satiety hormone, which helps control hunger and curb cravings that contain ingredients such as salt, sugar, oil, or fatty foods. Studies have also found that consuming collagen keeps you more full and satisfied than other protein powders such as whey or soy.
Helps curb bad cravings
Helps maintain a healthy weight
SIDE EFFECTS OF TAKING COLLAGEN
According to studies, there are zero to minimal side effects when taking collagen. Studies show that collagen may have the potential to cause digestive discomfort, such as feelings of fullness. This is likely due to the body not being used to the way the amino acids in collagen are broken down in the stomach. When this does occur, the stomach needs to get used to breaking down collagen - just as with other types of food.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW WHEN TAKING COLLAGEN
Now that you know the benefits of taking collagen, it’s crucial to recognize that collagen is not a cure-all. There are many factors that coincide with the benefits. Aside from aging, other factors that decrease collagen levels and can accelerate the aging process include:
So, it’s important to understand this and take care of you and your body while on your collagen journey. Otherwise, you may not be getting all the benefits.