Collagen isthe most abundant protein in our bodies. And yet, as we get older the collagen lining our joints wears down, leaving us with stiffness and pain.
But there is a way to tackle this problem before it even begins.
Collagen supplements are growing in popularity as more and more people learn about the myriad of health benefits these peptides can provide. With the right approach, we can get healthier skin, hair, nails, and joints — all for the long term.
Curious to learn more? By the end of the piece, you’ll know all you need to get started with collagen supplementation. Let’s go!
What is Collagen?
Collagen is a protein found in your skin, bones, and joints — in fact, it makes up a third of all the protein in the human body. As we age, collagen production slows down, leading to wrinkles, pain in our joints, and stiffness.
What Are Collagen Supplements?
Collagen supplements are an easy way to help increase collagen production naturally. The supplements are made from the bones, skin, and connective tissues of cows, pigs, fish, or chickens. You can buy collagen powder, pills, even as a drink mix.
While there are a few different kinds of collagen in the body, supplements usually contain Type II collagen or CII. Certain supplements will also include other components, like vitamin C (to help with collagen synthesis) or flavoring (for taste).
Type of Collagen Supplements: Hydrolyzed vs. Undenatured
Supplements can be hydrolyzed or undenatured. On a chemical level, hydrolyzation refers to a protein that has been broken down into its component peptides. Hydrolyzed collagen is better for the skin and joints and can be taken in 10 g doses daily. Pro tip: take it with meals instead of on an empty stomach.
Undenatured collagen should be taken in smaller doses, closer to 40 mg daily. It's an excellent option for people with rheumatoid arthritis, but more on that later. Chemically speaking, undenatured collagen hasn't been broken down into its base amino acids, thus preserving its effects. This is why you can get away with smaller doses.
Three Important Facts About Collagen Supplements
Fact #1: Collagen supplements are not for building muscle.
Collagen is a protein. That means collagen powder is a protein powder, right? Wrong. Compared to other protein sources, collagen doesn't have the best amino acids for muscle growth or fat loss. For those goals, stick to dedicated protein powders and supplements.
Fact #2: You only need a small amount of collagen to see results.
Supplementing with as little as:
- 1 mg of solubilized collagen
- 10 mg of hydrolyzed collagen
- 40 mg of undenatured collage
…can improve joint mobility and reduce pain.
Fact #3: Collagen supplements can help with hair, nail, and skin health.
Supplementing with collagen is a remarkable way to improve the appearance of your nails. Studies have shown that daily doses of collagen peptides promoted nail growth by 12% and reduced nail breakage by 42%.
How about hair? Among the three primary amino acids that make up collagen, proline provides the basis for keratin — the protein that builds up your hair.
Skin? That's coming up soon.
How Do Collagen Supplements Work?
Collagen supplements work by providing your body with the building blocks it needs to produce more collagen. As we mentioned earlier, collagen productionslows down as we age, leading to several problems. By taking supplements, you give your body the tools it needs to boost collagen production and improve overall health!
What Are the Benefits of Taking Collagen Supplements?
We've covered some basic facts about supplements, but now let's get deeper into the science and benefits! Some of these include:
- Healthy and strong skin
- Reduced osteoarthritis symptoms
- Reduced rheumatoid arthritis symptoms
- Less joint pain after working out
Healthy and strong skin
As we get older, our skin starts to wrinkle for several reasons. It produces fewer natural oils, UV radiation degrades the skin's connective tissue, etc. Hydrolyzed collagen can promote the peptides that help produce hyaluronic acid, its own skin supplement. Some benefits of hyaluronic acid include increased skin elasticity, reducing redness, and even fewer wrinkles.
One study found that a daily dose of 1 g of hydrolyzed collagen for 12 weeks reduced crow's feet and wrinkles for women who showed signs of aging skin. The study also found signs of increased dermal microcirculation, an essential for skin health. (Schwartz & Park, 2012).
Reduced osteoarthritis symptoms
Osteoarthritis is a problem with your joints that can cause pain and stiffness. Over time, the cartilage between your bones gets worn down, causing damage to your joints that can be irreversible. Since it's a natural part of life, it's the most common kind of arthritis worldwide.
However, in a study done on both men and women 45 and older, patients who took hydrolyzed collagen supplementation (10 g over six months) had less pain on the VAS and WOMAC scale when compared to patients who had taken a placebo. (Benito-Ruiz et al.)
In another study, patients took daily 40 mg doses of undenatured collagen II for three months with similar results in pain reduction. Interestingly, these were the same kind of results you could achieve by taking a mix of 1.5 g of glucosamine HCL and 1.2 grams of chondroitin sulfate — that's how potent that UC-II was. (Crowley et al.)
Reduced rheumatoid arthritis symptoms
Unlike osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease. As a form of arthritis, it attacks joints, typically around the hands and knees. It's also autoimmune, which means it occurs when cells in your own immune system start attacking healthy cells. However, collagen peptides can help improve joint health and bone health.
One study on 60 people with advanced rheumatoid arthritis taking solubilized collagen found that patients felt decreased joint stiffness and pain compared to a placebo. Four patients even noticed that some of their symptoms had resolved entirely on collagen supplementation! (Trentham et al.)
In another study on juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, researchers found that 8 out of 10 subjects (all between the ages of 7 and 17) saw reduced symptoms after taking oral collagen supplements (type II). (Barnett, Combitchi, & Trentham).
Less joint pain after working out
Some soreness after a workout is usually a good thing. It's a sign that your muscles are growing, your heart is getting stronger, etc. However, if that pain is happening in your joints, it's a bad sign. Overworking and stressing the cartilage in your joints can cause swelling and pain, even lasting damage.
A study on type II collagen yielded interesting results. After taking daily doses of 40 mg for four months, non-arthritic patients with joint pain saw heightened joint mobility, longer exercise times, and faster recovery times. (Lugo et al.).
How Do I Take Collagen Supplements?
Collagen peptide supplements come in pill form, powder form, or drink mix. When choosing a collagen supplement, it is essential to read the label and make sure you are taking the correct dosage. Hydrolyzed collagen peptides should be taken with a meal or snack, while undenatured collagen peptides are best consumed on an empty stomach.
Are collagen supplements safe?
Collagen supplements are generally safe for most people. However, it is always important to consult your doctor before starting any new supplement. Pregnant and nursing women should not take collagen supplements without first talking to their physician. Collagen peptides can also interact with other medications, so be sure to speak to your doctor if you have any prescriptions.
How to Choose the Right Collagen Supplements for You
When choosing collagen supplements, it is crucial to consider the following factors:
Type of collagen supplement (pill, powder, drink mix)
While a pill might be the most convenient for many people, collagen powder may be able to fit into your diet and lifestyle better.
Here are some options:
Brand and quality
For the highest quality, seek a collagen supplement from grass-fed, pasture-raised animals or fish. When it comes to brands — Mantra Foods, BioCare, and Vital Proteins offer several options.
Ideally, your collagen powder should be mostly collagen hydrolysate or peptides. Look for specifics: for example, bovine collagen peptides come from cows. Beyond that, supplements that include things like vitamin C and hyaluronic acid will help stimulate collagen production. Avoid powders with too much flavoring as they may contain added sugars.
Improve Your Joint and Bone Health Today
Supplementing with collagen can lead to healthier skin, reduced joint pain and stiffness, and even better-looking hair and nails. Incorporating even small doses of collagen into your daily diet can have an outsized impact.
Interested in browsing options right now? Mantra Foods has a wide selection of collagen supplement products to choose from — check them out today!
Frequently Asked Questions
What collagen supplement should I take?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question: it depends on your specific needs and preferences. However, seeking a collagen peptide supplement sourced from grass-fed, pasture-raised animals is always a good idea.
Which form of collagen is most effective?
Pill, powder, or drink mix collagen supplements are all effective. However, if you want to maximize absorption, it is best to take a collagen peptide supplement in powdered form on an empty stomach.
Why should you not take collagen supplements?
If you are pregnant, nursing, or on existing medication, collagen supplements may not be right for you. Consult with your doctor before supplementing collagen into your diet.