Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. Its fibre-like structure makes connective tissue. As the name suggests, this tissue connects other tissues and is a significant component of bone, skin, muscles, tendons, and cartilage. People become aware of collagen as they age. That is probably because of its potential to reverse the effects of ageing. As we age, our bodies start producing less collagen. As a result, collagen becomes essential in skincare. However, the benefits of collagen go far beyond creating beautiful skin. This article discusses the benefits of collagen supplements and more.
Types of Collagen
As a primary component of connective tissue, collagen is present in muscles, bones, nails, skin, and hair. It provides structural support. In addition, it serves as a protein source in energy drinks and bars. Our body uses the amino acids from protein-rich foods to make collagen. However, its production naturally decreases as people age.
The last few years have witnessed tremendous growth in collagen supplement marketing. Most of its supplements are hydrolysed. It means that they break down collagen for easy absorption. Although there are sixteen types of collagen in the body, around 80-90% of it is the type I, II, and III.
Type I Collagen
Type I collagen is the most abundant collagen in the human body. It is a group of long, tightly packed fibres present in tendons, bones, teeth, ligaments, and skin.
It is the most researched collagen due to its remarkable skin benefits. However, after 25 years of age, type I collagen’s production declines in the body. A decrease in this type leads to fine lines, thinning hair, brittle nails, and sagging skin.
Type II Collagen
Type II collagen is primarily used in supplements and is extremely important. It is present in the nose, ears, and joints. Type II collagen forms a significant part of cartilage. However, it is less prevalent than type I. These tissues appear as shorter fibres and are beneficial for joint health.
Type II collagen provides elasticity and tensile strength to joint cartilages. Thus, it is often present in supplements for joints.
Type III Collagen
Type III collagen is the vital protein line in collage supplements. It is present in the bone marrow alongside type I collagen and thus helps the body heal, promotes clotting in wound sites, and minimizes wrinkles. It is the second most abundant collagen in hollow organs.
Benefits of Taking Collagen Supplements
1. Keeps the Gut Healthy
Collagen is rich in amino acids that can repair the gut lining. These acids are beneficial for treating digestive distress. It contains amino acids such as hydroxyproline, proline, and glycine. They help improve the tissue lining of the gastrointestinal tract. In addition, the sealing property of collagen aids in healing leaky gut syndrome, a condition caused by abnormal intestinal permeability.
Furthermore, collagen brings down intestinal inflammation by balancing the gut-immune response. A study shows that collagen supports tight junction proteins. It helps them in nutrient transportation and blocking unwanted particles. Thus, collagen is ideal for maintaining a healthy gut.
2. Reduces Signs of Ageing
The ageing process reflects wrinkles, fine lines, dullness, sagging, and breakouts. Collagen supplements can reduce wrinkles by hydrating the skin. In addition, a study shows that collagen improves skin elasticity.
Collagen supplements promote synthesising of fibrillin and elastin. They are proteins that improve skin texture. In addition, collagen supplements boost the natural collagen synthesis within our body. Thus, it’s a double benefit for people looking to improve the density and quality of the skin.
3. Relieves Joint Pain
Consuming readily absorbable collagen supplements may provide joint pain relief, especially the symptoms of osteoarthritis. An investigative study says that 10 grams of collagen per day show pain-relieving effects. That is because it rebuilds the cartilage lost during ageing and keeps the tendons and muscles together. In addition, type II collagen regenerates the articular cartilage of joints. As a result, it keeps the joints healthy and free from pain.
4. Prevents Bone Loss
A study proves that collagen may prevent bone loss and help reduce osteoporosis. Furthermore, regular consumption of collagen supplements can increase bone mineral density, making the bones stronger. In addition, it also increases bone formation. Hence, taking collagen is promising for bone health.
5. Promotes Heart Health
Collagen maintains the arterial structure and prevents abnormal thickening. In its absence, arteries become inelastic and inflexible. As a result, it may cause atherosclerosis, a heart condition characterised by narrowed arteries. Intake of 16 grams of collagen daily may help with preventing artery stiffness. Thus, collagen can help in boosting heart health.
Most collagen is a straight-up protein source with no flavour and minimal calories. As a result, it adds protein content to our bodies without impacting blood sugar, making it safe for diabetics. Therefore, unflavored collagen supplements serve as a protein source for people living with diabetes.
A study shows that marine collagen supplements may reduce insulin resistance by increasing the sensitivity towards insulin. Marine collagen comes from the skin of fish and contains high glycine levels. Glycine positively impacts insulin secretion and stabilises blood sugar levels.
Sources of Collagen
Eating an amino acid-rich diet ensures adequate collagen supply. Some natural sources of collagen are:
- High Protein Food: soy, legumes, eggs, meat, fish, and poultry.
- Animal bone broth provides ample amounts of collagen. You can prepare it by simmering bones in water and a little bit of vinegar for a minimum of 4 hours.
- Zinc foods like shellfish, legumes, whole grains, and nuts.
- Vitamin C-rich foods: Citrus fruits, bell peppers, leafy greens, tomatoes, and berries also supply collagen.
- Other Foods: Chicken, fish, cows, beef, pork skin, chicken skin, and fish
Need for Collagen Supplements
Unfortunately, collagen starts degrading with age. Several factors influence the speed with which it degrades. For example, our genetics make lower quality collagen as we age. In addition, environmental factors, an unhealthy lifestyle, poor diet etc., speeds collagen breakdown as they create free radicals. These free radicals cause a lot of damage to the collagen-producing mechanism. As a result, our bodies require collagen supplements.
Several protein-rich foods like eggs, soy, dairy etc., may nurture collagen production because they contain the amino acids that make collagen—glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline. However, there is a lack of research to show that eating collagen can directly benefit skin or joint health. Therefore, people prefer taking collagen supplements.
Ways to Take Collagen Supplements
There is no wrong method of eating collagen. However, it is recommended to take collagen every morning at the same time to derive maximum benefits. Don’t worry; there are no restrictions on taking collagens at night before bed. Just make sure that you take collagen every day to see satisfactory results.
Generally, daily doses of collagen can be around 2.5-10 grams. However, ensure that you do not take more than 15 grams of collagen in a day. In supplements, you can take collagen in powder, capsules, gummies, or liquid.
People who do not prefer eating tablets may take liquid collagen. You can massage them gently on the face. Another simple way is to mix the liquid in a glass of water and drink it.
Collagen gummies, also called chewable collagen, contain a little dose of sweetness. It is an ideal choice for people who dislike swallowing pills. Take 1-2 collagen gummies a day.
The powdered form is the most popular way to take collagen due to its versatility. You can add a scoop of collagen powder to your daily diet by simply mixing it with smoothies, water, milk, or any drink. Since it lacks any specific flavour, adding powdered collagen to your drinks won’t make any taste difference. Taking 1-2 tablespoons of collagen is enough for a day. It is also convenient to mix powdered collagen with soft foods.
Collagen capsules or tablets are convenient for older adults to add extra collagen to their daily diet. You can take a maximum of two collagen capsules a day.
Potential Downsides of Collagen Supplements
Everyone’s body reacts to collagen peptides in unique ways. However, a few precautions, complaints, and side effects of consuming collagen supplements are:
1. Unpleasant Taste
After eating collagen powders, some people have experienced a bad taste lingering in their mouths. The strong aftertaste may be bitter, tangy, or too saccharine. In addition, flavoured collagen blends contain sweeteners that may impart too much sweetness during consumption.
2. Upset Stomach
Though rare, collagen may cause bloating, heartburn, the feeling of fullness, and an upset stomach. That might be a side effect of the additives or formulations present in collagen.
Since collagen is extracted from chicken, fish, or bovine sources, it may contain potential allergens. Therefore, check the ingredient list before buying collagen from the market. Also, keep an eye out for any substances you are sensitive to.
4. Lack of Vegan Status
There is no plant-based collagen available. Collagen is sourced from the connective tissues of animals, particularly mammals, and marine sources like fish. Thus vegan supplements are devoid of collagen. However, they may contain other substances that support natural collagen synthesis in our bodies. Therefore, you cannot consider collagen a pure protein source for strict vegans and vegetarians.
Collagen is densely present in connective tissues and is the most abundant protein. Today, people recognise collagen for its ability to relieve joint pain, restore skin health, and help the gut. Collagen type I, type II, and type III are the most common in our bodies. Collagen supplements are available in powdered form, capsules, chewable and liquid. However, hydrolysed collagen is far more beneficial due to its predigested formula.
You should be patient to see the expected results from collagen. It may take anywhere from 8 weeks to 12 months to witness desirable effects. Collagen tends to be safe and tolerant for most consumers. Find a clean formula that works for you to prevent any potential side effects like allergies and stomach discomfort. In general, collagen provides multiple health benefits and mild risks.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What are the dangers of taking collagen?
A. Taking collagen is generally considered safe and healthy. However, there are mild side effects such as an upset stomach, a feeling of fullness, lingering bad aftertastes, and heartburn. In addition, since most collagens come from animal sources, they may also contain potential allergens. Nonetheless, these downsides are not very common.
Q. Which form of collagen is most effective?
A. Hydrolysed collagen is the most effective because it has predigested collagen proteins, making further digestion and absorption easier. Once efficiently absorbed into our bloodstream, collagen starts doing its job.
Q. Are collagen supplements really worth it?
A. Yes, the bottom line is that collagen benefits certainly outweigh its mild side effects. Taking collagen regularly may improve skin health, slow down the ageing process, boost bone health, and maintain cartilage. Furthermore, collagen promotes a healthy gut.
Q. Is it safe to take collagen every day?
A. Yes, since collagen is a non-toxic daily supplement, you can consume it every day. You can take 1-2 collagen tablets or gummies per day for a long period. Moreover, regular consumption of collagen supplements shows faster results with better efficiency.
Q. Is collagen bad for kidneys?
A. If you take it in moderation, collagen does not possess any detrimental effects on the kidney. However, people with a high risk of developing kidney stones must avoid taking collagen. That is because collagen contains a type of amino acid called hydroxyproline. It increases the amount of oxalate in the body. Excess oxalate later converts into kidney stones.
Q. Do collagen supplements make you gain weight?
A. No, collagen does not cause any unwanted weight gain. Collagen is loaded with protein but contains very few calories. Since it lacks any excess calories, collagen will not stimulate weight gain or fat accumulation.
Q. What foods contain collagen?
A. Foods like eggs, fish, chicken, beef and bone broth contain collagen. In addition, vitamin C and zinc-rich foods such as shellfish, leafy greens, bell peppers, nuts, and tomatoes also help us get collagen.
Q. What are the symptoms of too much collagen?
A. Taking too much collagen makes the skin thicker and hard. As a result, it shows signs of stretching. Hardening due to excess collagen will damage the kidney, lungs, and heart. Furthermore, it can cause an upset stomach as well.
Q. Does collagen thicken hair?
A. Yes. Collagen supports hair thickening by repairing follicular damage and preventing age-related hair thinning. In addition, it serves as a building block for new hair growth.
Q. Can I take multivitamins and collagen together?
A. Yes, you can take multivitamins like vitamin C and collagen together. The effects of combining multivitamins and collagen are more remarkable than taking one supplement alone. Just make sure to not overdose.
Q. At what age should you start taking collagen?
A. You can consume collagen anytime after your twenties. However, since collagen production starts to drop after 20 years, it is beneficial to start from the mid-twenties.
Q. Does collagen help with belly fat?
A. Chicken derived collagen may help with managing belly fat. In addition, weight loss might be an added advantage. However, you must combine it with a healthy diet and exercise to maximise results.
Q. Does collagen make your face fat?
A. No. collagen will not cause any fat buildup around your face. Instead, collagen prevents sagginess and keeps the face firm and glowy.
Q. Can collagen make you sleepy?
A. Collagen is exceptionally rich in glycine, an inhibitory neurotransmitter that calms the central nervous system. It may help in relaxation and promotes sleep. The glycine content in collagen prepares you to sleep by lowering the body temperature and helps you to unwind
Q. How do you know if collagen is working?
A. You can notice visible changes in the skin texture. In addition, you can see improved hair growth, and nails will regain their strength. It may take 8 to 12 weeks, but changes are easily noticeable.
Q. Does collagen give you diarrhoea?
A. Diarrhoea is a minor side effect of collagen. If you take collagen in excess amounts, it may cause an upset stomach. However, the chances of acquiring diarrhoea from collagen are relatively minor if taken in moderation.
Q. How long does it take for collagen to work?
A. You would be able to see improvements in hydration, skin elasticity, and density in 6 to 12 weeks. However, it is only possible through regular consumption. Collagen works relatively faster in easing pain, stiffness, and soreness.
Q. Are collagen supplements safe for diabetics?
A. Yes! Collagen protein works exceptionally well for people who have diabetes. It adds protein to your diet without any impact on blood sugar.
Q. How does diabetes affect collagen?
A. Type 1 diabetes can decrease the deposition of collagen by 40%. It brings down collagen synthesis and prompts its degradation.
Q. Does collagen help insulin resistance?
A. Yes, taking collagen improves the sensitivity towards insulin and reduces insulin resistance. In addition, the glycine present in collagen positively increases insulin secretion and blocks any resistance and stabilises blood sugar levels.