7 Surprising Benefits of Taking Collagen Supplements
Collagen has many amazing benefits for the whole body. The impacts of collagen supplementation can help with sleep, digestion, and much more.
If you’re not already familiar with collagen benefits for the body and how supplements play a role, it’s time to get acquainted.
Collagen is, without a doubt, the most abundant protein in the body - it plays a crucial role in supporting elasticity wherever you need it, such as to connective tissue like tendons, ligaments, bones and cartilage, and in the skin as well.
There are 16 different types of collagen, although the body primarily contains types I, II, and III. As we age, the collagen in our body declines.
The good news is that if you want to add it to your diet to try to minimize collagen loss, all you have to do is start eating more pig’s feet and turtle blood. What could be more appetizing?
What’s that? You’re not into turtles? That’s okay - the positive effects of eating these kinds of food are still debatable.
Of course, there are other ways to increase collagen!
A better and perhaps more appealing approach is to start taking collagen supplements.
There are plenty of reasons to incorporate these into your daily routine, though it’s crucial to keep in mind that more studies are warranted to confirm collagen’s powers fully.
That being said, if you’d like to start taking supplements, below are some of the main benefits.
Collagen Promotes Better Skin
This supportive, fibrous protein we call collagen makes up 75-80% of your skin. It’s what gives it its elasticity and strength, and it does its part to help ward off wrinkles.
As we get older and production declines, wrinkles start to appear, and the skin becomes drier.
Here’s a sad fact: after you turn 25, collagen synthesis declines at a rate of 1.5% per year, and after you turn 45, collagen levels can fall by up to 30%.
Studies have shown that taking supplements containing collagen can help support skin elasticity and reduce dryness and wrinkles. With regard to the latter, it is believed that these supplements stimulate the body to produce more collagen, thereby reducing the appearance of wrinkles.
In this particular study, a group of women between 35 and 55 years old were given either a supplement or a placebo. After eight weeks, the women who took the supplement reported a noticeable improvement in skin elasticity.
Collagen Helps Maintain Stronger Joints
The depletion of collagen doesn’t just affect your skin; its decline also makes us more susceptible to problems and ailments in the joints and bones.
As all of us get older, the cartilage at the ends of the bones begins to wear off. As a result, bones rub against each other, which can be uncomfortable and even painful at times.
Collagen supplements can help decrease joint pain while improving flexibility.
In a 2008 study at Penn State University, athletes who took collagen supplements found that it reduced joint pain for them when they were lifting heavy objects, standing, and even resting.
Additional research is underway, but these results suggest that collagen could help with joint deterioration, especially among people with rheumatoid arthritis and arthritis.
In a different study that looked at knee problems, after 6 months, the subjects taking collagen supplements reported having less pain.
You also might consider ruling out bone-loss issues such as osteoporosis through a simple blood test with your primary care physician.
Collagen Helps Leaky Gut
Having a healthy gut is vital, as this, in turn, affects brain health, mood, stress, and even immunity.
Having an unhealthy gut can actually lead to depression, anxiety, and brain fog.
Collagen supplements can help in multiple ways with the stomach-brain connection.
For starters, collagen can reduce the risk of digestive problems because collagen contains an amino acid called glycine. This amino acing has anti-inflammatory properties. Having enough collagen can help you avoid problems like inflammatory bowel disease.
Collagen also helps reinforce your gut’s wall and stomach lining. When you have a leaky gut, the toxins get out, and so do the nutrients -- all the vitamins and minerals you’re eating could potentially go to waste.
Collagen also plays an important role in regulating and structuring body tissues, including the digestive tract, which measures about 30 feet.
The amino acids in the supplements can help heal the gut and drive the production of more collagen, which in turn helps us maintain our intestines.
Collagen Makes Nails Stronger
The main protein in your nail bed is collagen, along with keratin. If your nails are brittle or they’re splitting or breaking, you might consider taking a supplement.
In a 2017 study of subjects with brittle nails, those who took an oral collagen supplement reported an improvement.
Specifically, the participants took a collagen peptide product for 6 months and then stopped taking it for 1 month. Then these participants were evaluated, looking in particular at their nail growth rate and frequency of cracked or chipped nails.
In the end, they saw an increase in their nail growth rate of 12% and a decline in the broken nail frequency of 42%, while around two-thirds of participants saw an improvement in their brittle nails.
Collagen Supports a Healthy Brain
A team of researchers at Stanford University, UCSF, and the Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease conducted a series of experiments that found that a type of collagen, specifically collagen IV, may be capable of protecting the brain from amyloid-beta proteins.
A lack of this brain protection can group together to form amyloid plaques, which is often found in the minds of people with Alzheimer’s disease.
The idea, then, is that if you increase your collagen intake, you can protect your brain from warding off these protein build-ups that lead to contribute to debilitating neurological diseases.
Although more testing must be done in this area, the initial results are promising.
Collagen Improves Sleep Quality
We all know how important quality sleep is.
Our bodies need to rest and recover, and it’s essential to enter stage 3, which is more restorative, and stage 4, which is REM.
Lots of people struggle with getting quality sleep, such as those who have insomnia, anxiety, stress, or even too much caffeine.
A study that looked at the impact of collagen on sleeping patterns revealed that people who took a supplement before bed had a better night’s rest.
The same study also concluded those taking collagen fell asleep faster and fell into a deeper sleep more quickly compared with other participants who took a placebo.
Even better, the following day, they did not experience fatigue and reported strong mental performance.
I'm all about anything for better sleep, which is the optimal time and place for all recovery.
Collagen Might Assist in Weight Loss
Protein plays a key role in weight loss because it gives us a feeling of fullness.
Along these lines, collagen protein peptides are considered to have an especially satiating effect.
Moreover, collagen has an amino acid profile that may help with appetite suppression - it keeps our bellies full.
The result? These supplements can be used to support any weight loss program.
In one clinical trial, collagen proved to be 40% more filling than soy, casein, and whey, with the result that people reduced their intake of food by 20% after taking collagen.
Diabetic and obese patients that participated in another study consumed collagen. This study resulted in a much smaller appetite in those people, which, in turn, led to less food consumption.
As you can see, there’s no shortage of good reasons to take a collagen supplement, from improving the appearance of skin and nails to getting better sleep at night.
My favorite collagen supplement? Hands down is Alaya Naturals Multi Collagen Protein Powder.
It’s also worth noting that there are few to no side effects, so you’ve got little to lose if you decide to incorporate them into your routine and see if they have a positive impact on your health.
For those of you who have taken collagen supplements before, let me know your experience with this amazing supplement in the comments below!
Tony Lee, MS, RD
Tony Lee, RD, MS, is a highly qualified and accomplished Registered Dietitian with a Master’s Degree in Nutrition Sciences from Arizona State University. Tony brings over two decades of experience in dietetics, specializing in sports nutrition. Interests include studying all aspects of wellness, fitness, genetics, and peak health performance.