Collagen has become a popular supplement in recent years due to its potential benefits for skin, joint, and bone health. However, before you start taking a collagen supplement, you should know some important things.
What is Collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, making up about one-third of our total protein. It is a major component of our skin, bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Collagen provides structure and support to our tissues, helping them maintain their shape and function. (1)
Collagen supplements are typically made from bovine (cow) or fish sources but can also be sourced from chicken or pork. There are two types of collagen: hydrolyzed and gelatinized. Hydrolyzed collagen has been broken down into amino acids, making it easier to digest than gelatinized collagen. The collagen in collagen supplements has already been broken down into amino acids and peptides because that’s the only way our bodies can actually absorb and use it.
Things You Should Know Before Taking a Collagen Supplement
You’ve likely been on the receiving end of targeted ads on Instagram or at least heard about the benefits of taking a collagen supplement. In particular, marine collagen is having its moment in the spotlight. Before you click “buy” on an expensive collagen powder, inform yourself of the benefits and drawbacks to make sure this supplement is right for you.
Benefits of Collagen Supplements
Collagen supplements are marketed as a way to improve skin elasticity, reduce wrinkles, and promote joint and bone health. Some studies have shown that collagen supplements may have these benefits. They have also had some evidence of other benefits to our health.
Collagen is a major component of our skin, and as we age, our skin’s collagen production decreases, leading to wrinkles and sagging. Some studies have shown that taking collagen supplements may improve skin elasticity, hydration, and texture. (2)
Collagen is also an important component of our joints, providing cushioning and support. Some studies have shown that taking collagen supplements may reduce joint pain and improve joint mobility in people with osteoarthritis. (3, 4)
Collagen is a major component of our bones, and as we age, our bone density decreases, leading to osteoporosis. Some studies have shown that taking collagen supplements may improve bone density and reduce the risk of fractures in postmenopausal women. (5, 6)
Collagen is a major component of our hearts and blood vessels, providing structural support and cushioning. Some studies have shown that taking collagen supplements may reduce the risk of heart disease by improving blood vessel elasticity and reducing inflammation. (7)
Other potential benefits of taking a collagen supplement include stronger hair and nails, improved gut health, improved brain health, and even weight loss. However, not much evidence supports these, and more research is needed.
Read: The Role of Collagen in Keeping Cancer Cells Dormant: A New Frontier in Cancer Treatment
Side Effects of Collagen Supplements
No supplement doesn’t come without its potential drawbacks. While collagen supplements are generally considered safe, there are some potential side effects to be aware of.
Collagen supplements are made from animal sources, such as cows, pigs, and fish, and can be difficult to digest for some people. Some people may experience digestive issues such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea. (8, 9)
Collagen supplements can also cause allergic reactions in some people, especially those with a history of allergies to the source animal. Symptoms of an allergic reaction may include hives, itching, and difficulty breathing.
Collagen supplements are not currently regulated by the FDA. Before taking a collagen supplement, there are some other cautionary details to be aware of.
Not all collagen supplements are created equal. It is important to choose a high-quality supplement from a reputable manufacturer. Look for supplements that are third-party tested for purity and potency.
Dosage and Timing
It is important to follow the recommended dosage and timing for collagen supplements. Taking too much collagen may not provide any additional benefits and may even be harmful. Taking collagen supplements on an empty stomach is also important, as food can interfere with absorption.
The Bottom Line
Collagen supplements may provide benefits for skin, joint, and bone health, but it is important to be aware of the potential side effects and other cautionary details. Before starting a collagen supplement, talk to your doctor to ensure it is safe for you and determine the appropriate dosage and timing. Choose a high-quality supplement from a reputable manufacturer, and consider vegan options if you are vegan or vegetarian. By taking these precautions, you can enjoy the potential benefits of collagen supplements while minimizing the risks.
Keep Reading: 7 warning signs of collagen deficiency that everyone should know
- “Collagen.” Cleveland Clinic
- “Effects of hydrolyzed collagen supplementation on skin aging: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” Pubmed. Roseane B de Miranda, et al. December 2021.
- “Collagen supplementation as a complementary therapy for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis andosteoarthritis: a systematic review.” Scielo. Elisângela Porfírio and Gustavo Bernardes Fanaro.
- “Effect of collagen supplementation on osteoarthritis symptoms: a meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials.” Pubmed. Juan Mario García-Coronado, et al. October 2018.
- “A calcium-collagen chelate dietary supplement attenuates bone loss in postmenopausal women with osteopenia: a randomized controlled trial.” NCBI. Marcus L Elam, et al. March 2015.
- “Specific Collagen Peptides Improve Bone Mineral Density and Bone Markers in Postmenopausal Women—A Randomized Controlled Study.” NCBI. Daniel König, et al. January 2018.
- “Effect of Collagen Tripeptide on Atherosclerosis in Healthy Humans.” NCBI. Naohisa Tomosugi, et al. May 2017.
- “Role of collagen hydrolysate in bone and joint disease.” NCBI. R W Moskowitz. October 2000.
- “Collagen Supplements for Aging and Wrinkles: A Paradigm Shift in the Fields of Dermatology and Cosmetics.” NCBI. Hend Al-Atif. February 2022.