Collagen supplementation provides a variety of health benefits.
1. May relieve joint pain
Collagen helps maintain the integrity of your cartilage, the rubber-like tissue that protects your joints. As the amount of collagen in your body decreases with age, your risk of degenerative joint disorders such as osteoarthritis increases.
Some studies suggest that collagen supplements may help improve symptoms of osteoarthritis and reduce overall joint pain. Researchers have theorized that supplemental collagen may accumulate in cartilage and stimulate your tissues to make collagen. In turn, this may lead to lower inflammation, better joint support, and reduced pain.
If you want to try collagen supplements for potential pain-relieving effects, most research suggests that you’ll see an effect with 10 grams per day.
2. 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 may lead to conditions such as osteoporosis, which is characterized by low bone density and a higher risk of bone fractures.
Studies note that collagen supplements may help inhibit the bone breakdown that leads to osteoporosis. In a 12-month study, women took either a calcium supplement with 5 grams of collagen or a calcium supplement and no collagen daily.
At the study’s end, those taking the calcium and collagen supplement had significantly lower blood levels of proteins that promote bone breakdown than those who took only the calcium.
Although these results are promising, more human studies are needed.
3. May improve skin health
Collagen is a major component of your skin. It plays a role in strengthening skin, as well as in elasticity and hydration. As you age, your body produces less collagen, leading to dry skin and the formation of wrinkles.
However, several studies have shown that collagen peptides or supplements containing collagen may help slow the aging of your skin by reducing wrinkles and dryness.
One review of 11 studies focusing mostly on women found that taking 3–10 grams of collagen per day for an average of 69 days led to improvements in skin elasticity and hydration.
These supplements may work by stimulating your body to produce collagen on its own. Additionally, collagen supplements may promote the production of other proteins that help structure your skin, including elastin and fibrillin.
4. May boost muscle mass
As the most abundant protein in the body, collagen is an important component of skeletal muscle. Studies suggest that collagen supplements help boost muscle mass in people with sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass that happens 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 didn’t take collagen, they gained significantly more muscle mass and strength.
Researchers have suggested that supplemental collagen may promote the synthesis of muscle proteins such as creatine, as well as stimulate muscle growth after exercise.
5. May promote heart health
Collagen provides structure to your arteries, the blood vessels that carry blood from your heart to the rest of your body. Without enough collagen, arteries may become less flexible and elastic.
This may lead to atherosclerosis, a disease characterized by the narrowing of your arteries. This condition may lead to heart attack and stroke.
In a 6-month study, 31 healthy adults took 16 grams of collagen daily. They had experienced a significant reduction in measures of artery stiffness from the study’s beginning to its end.
Additionally, their levels of HDL (good) cholesterol rose by an average of 6%. HDL is an important factor in the risk of heart conditions, including atherosclerosis.
Nevertheless, more studies on collagen supplements and heart health are needed.
6. Other health benefits
Collagen supplements may have other health benefits, but these haven’t been studied extensively.
• Hair and nails. Taking collagen may increase the strength of your nails by preventing brittleness. Additionally, it may help your hair and nails grow longer.
• Gut health. Although no scientific evidence supports this claim, some health practitioners assert that collagen supplements can treat leaky gut syndrome, also called intestinal permeability.
• Brain health. No studies have examined the role of collagen supplements in brain health, but some people claim that they improve mood and reduce anxiety symptoms.
• Weight loss. Proponents believe that collagen supplements may promote weight loss and faster metabolism. However, no studies support these claims.
• Although these potential effects are promising, more research is needed before formal conclusions can be made.
Side effects of collagen supplements
Collagen supplements are generally well tolerated, with few reported side effects. However, some supplements are made from common food allergens, such as fish, shellfish, and eggs. People with allergies to these foods should avoid collagen supplements made with these ingredients.
How long does it take to see results?
Collagen turnover is a slow process. As such, no matter your goal for using collagen, it will take at least 8 weeks to experience noticeable results.
Most studies use a minimum of 8 weeks to assess collagen’s effects on skin health and joint pain relief, but other studies use longer periods, such as 12 months, for bone health.
Thus, you should be patient and not expect results for a while. Collagen supplements are generally safe, easy to use, and worth trying based on your health goals.