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8 Benefits of Collagen Supplements

As humans continue to seek for ways to "beat" nature at its own game and perhaps turn back the hands of time (at least as far as appearances go), the fascination with collagen supplements is perhaps not surprising.

With promises of rejuvenating the skin, reducing the appearance of  wrinkles, improving bone, joint and gut health among others, this trendy supplement undoubtedly has a long way to go in the beauty and health industry. 

Is this supplement worth the hype however? Or does it seem too good to be true? We'll find out in a bit but first, the basics.... 

 

What is Collagen? 

Collagen is a major essential protein in the body, especially the skin of which it comprises as much as 80%. It plays a vital role in building and supporting various tissues such as bones and cartilage, muscles and tendons, hair, skin, eyes and even the digestive system. 

Unfortunately as we age, the body's collagen levels drop and the skin is usually one of the first places where the effects of this reduced production is evident, resulting in loss of skin elasticity, dryness and wrinkles. As a result, collagen supplementation becomes a very appealing option for many especially as it offers several benefits beyond cosmesis. 

What are the Benefits of Collagen Supplements?

Are collagen supplements really all they are purported to be? Well, don't take our word for it. Let's see what the experts have to say. 

According to existing research, consuming collagen may offer lots of benefits not only for the skin but also for the bones, joints, hair, nails and even the heart. 

Even though there are four different types of collagen (types I - IV), overall, their common health benefits include the following:

 

1. Boost Skin Health 

As one of the major components of the skin, collagen functions to strengthen the skin, possibly enhancing its hydration and elasticity. It has been shown to be effective in reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines in numerous studies, thereby slowing aging.

This benefit is thought to be because the collagen supplements stimulate endogenous production of collagen in addition to promoting the body's production of important skin proteins like elastin and fibrillin. 

 

2. Provide Relief for Joint Pain

Our joints are covered by cartilage to prevent friction during movement. Degenerative diseases like osteoarthritis can arise from reduced amounts of collagen. 

Consuming collagen supplements may be effective in improving osteoarthritis symptoms and in alleviating joint pain. 

It is thought to achieve this through increasing the collagen concentration of cartilage, thereby enhancing support, lowering joint inflammation and easing pain. 

 

3. Beneficial in Preventing Osteoporosis

It is a known fact that bone mass reduces with increasing age and this is especially so for women, predisposing the individual to osteoporosis. 

Taking collagen supplements may help to protect against the breakdown of bone by increasing bone mineral density.

 

4. Improve Heart Health

Since collagen is an important component of arteries, taking collagen supplements has been associated with a reduced risk of atherosclerosis (which results in narrowed blood vessels and an increased risk of stroke and heart attack).7

It also increases the body levels of HDL (healthy fat), beneficial to heart health. 

 

5. Help in Building Muscle Mass

Collagen makes up about 1 to 10% of muscle and a deficiency could result in weakness and easy fatigue. 

Consumption of collagen supplements helps to increase muscle mass and strength and this is beneficial to athletes, body builders, and even individuals who suffer from sarcopenia, a muscle-depleting disease.

 

6. Hair and Nails

Consuming collagen may help to prevent brittle nails. It could also improve hair and nail growth.

 

7. Improve Gut Health 

Some conditions such as Leaky gut syndrome, and Irritable bowel syndrome may be improved with intake of collagen supplements as  sufferers have been found to have lower levels of collagen. More research is needed on this however. 

 

8. Boost Brain Health 

Some persons report improved mood and memory as well as reduced anxiety symptoms following intake of collagen supplements. However, this is currently anecdotal as there is no evidence yet to support these claims. 

 

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