Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body. It is the main component of the connective tissues that make up many parts of the body, including tendons, ligaments, skin, and muscles.
Collagen has many important functions, including building your skin and strengthening your bones.
There are 28 types of collagen, but here are the four most common:
Type 1: The most common type, found in all connective tissues.
Type 2: Found in joints and intervertebral discs (the cushions that act as shock absorbers for the spine).
Type II: The main component of the retinal fibers found in the skin and blood vessels.
Type IV: It consists of the kidneys, inner ear, and lens.
In recent years, collagen supplements have become popular. Most of it hydrolyses, which means that collagen has been broken down to make it easier to absorb. These supplements mostly come in powder form but are also available in capsules. The types of collagen found in supplements vary — some contain one or two, while others contain up to five. Many foods can naturally increase your collagen intake, including pork skin and bone broth.
Foods that contain collagen
Foods that contain gelatin, such as bone broth, provide collagen. Gelatin is a protein substance derived from collagen after it has been cooked. Collagen is found in the connective tissues of animals. Hence, foods like chicken skin, pork, beef and fish are sources of collagen. Vitamin C is necessary for collagen synthesis. It is therefore essential to ensure that you eat foods rich in this vitamin, such as citrus fruits, broccoli and peppers.
More research is needed to determine if eating collagen-rich foods helps increase collagen levels in the body, as they may not have the same benefits as supplementation. Digestive enzymes break down the collagen in food into individual amino acids and peptides. However, collagen in supplements has already been broken down, or hydrolysed, so it is believed that it is absorbed more efficiently than collagen in food.
Health Benefits of Collagen Supplements
1. May improve skin health
Collagen is a major component of your skin. It plays a role in strengthening the skin, as well as in its elasticity and hydration. As you age, your body produces less collagen, which leads to dry skin and the formation of wrinkles. However, several studies have shown that collagen peptides or supplements containing collagen can help slow down skin aging by reducing wrinkles and dryness. An analysis of 11 studies including most women found that taking 3-10 grams of collagen daily for an average of 69 days helped improve skin elasticity and hydration. These supplements may work by stimulating your body to produce collagen on its own. Additionally, collagen supplements may boost the production of other proteins that help build your skin, including elastin and fibrillin. There are also many anecdotal claims that collagen supplements help prevent acne and other skin problems, but these are not supported by scientific evidence.
2. May relieve joint pain
Collagen helps maintain the integrity of cartilage, the rubbery tissue that protects your joints. Because the amount of collagen in the body decreases with age, the risk of developing degenerative joint disorders such as osteoarthritis increases. Some studies suggest that collagen supplements may help improve symptoms of osteoarthritis and reduce joint pain in general. An analysis of five studies including more than 500 people with osteoarthritis found that taking approximately 10 grams of collagen daily for an average of 24 weeks led to significant improvements in joint stiffness and reported joint pain. The researchers hypothesized that collagen supplements could build up in cartilage and stimulate your tissues to produce collagen. This in turn can lead to less inflammation, better joint support and less pain. If you want to try collagen supplements for their potential pain-relieving effect, most research suggests you’ll see an effect of 10 grams per day.
3. May prevent bone loss
Your bones are made mostly of collagen, which gives them structure and strength. Just as the collagen in your body deteriorates with age, so does bone mass. This can lead to conditions such as osteoporosis, which is characterized by low bone density and an increased risk of fractures. Studies show that collagen supplements may help prevent the bone breakdown that leads to osteoporosis. In a 12-month study, women took a calcium supplement with 5 grams of collagen or a calcium supplement without collagen daily. At the end of the study, those who took calcium and collagen supplements had significantly lower blood levels of bone-breaking proteins compared to those who took calcium only. Another study found similar results in 66 women who took 5 grams of collagen daily for 12 months. Those who took collagen showed an increase in bone mineral density (BMD) of up to 7% compared to those who did not take collagen.
4. It may boost muscle mass
As the most abundant protein in the body, collagen is an important component of skeletal muscle. Studies show that collagen supplements help boost muscle mass in people with sarcopenia, which is the loss of muscle mass that occurs with age. In a 12-week study, 27 men with this condition took 15 grams of collagen while participating in a daily exercise program. Compared to men who exercised but did not take collagen, they gained significantly more muscle mass and strength. Researchers have suggested that collagen supplementation may enhance the synthesis of muscle proteins such as creatine, as well as stimulate muscle growth after exercise. However, collagen protein is no more effective than whey protein at building muscle or strength. This is because, unlike whey protein, collagen is low in the essential amino acids – especially leucine – which play a key role in building muscle. More research is needed to verify the ability of collagen to enhance muscle mass.
5. May support heart health
Researchers hypothesize that collagen supplementation may help reduce heart disease risk. Collagen provides structure to your arteries, the blood vessels that carry blood from your heart to the rest of your body. Without enough collagen, the arteries can become less and less elastic. This can lead to atherosclerosis, a disease characterized by narrowing of the arteries. This disease can lead to heart attack and stroke. In a 6-month study, 31 healthy adults took 16 grams of collagen daily. They found a significant reduction in measures of arterial stiffness from the start to the end of the study. In addition, HDL (good cholesterol) levels increased an average of 6%. HDL is an important risk factor for heart disease, including atherosclerosis. However, more studies are needed on collagen supplementation and heart health.
6. Other health benefits
Collagen supplements may have other health benefits, but they have not been extensively studied.
hair and nails
Taking collagen can increase the resistance of your nails by preventing them from becoming brittle. Plus, it can help your hair and nails grow longer.
Although there is no scientific evidence to support this claim, some health practitioners claim that collagen supplements can treat leaky gut syndrome, also known as leaky gut.
No studies have looked at the role of collagen supplements in brain health, but some people claim that they improve mood and reduce symptoms of anxiety.
Proponents believe that collagen supplements can promote weight loss and boost metabolism. However, there are no studies to support these claims.
While these potential effects are promising, more research is needed before any formal conclusions can be drawn.
How long does it take to see results?
Collagen renewal is a slow process. As such, whatever your goal in using collagen is, it will take at least 8 weeks for you to see visible results. Most studies use at least 8 weeks to evaluate the effects of collagen on skin health and joint pain relief, but other studies use longer periods of time, such as 12 months, for bone health.
Therefore, it is necessary to be patient and not expect results for a certain period.
Oral collagen supplementation: a systematic review of dermatological applications
Cellular aging towards osteoporosis
Calcium and collagen chelated dietary supplement ameliorates bone loss in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis: a randomized controlled trial.
* Presse Santé strives to impart medical knowledge in a language accessible to all. In no way can the information provided replace medical advice.
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