Our body produces collagen naturally, but at the age of 20-25 that process slows down, and soon we start to notice the signs of aging – decreased body flexibility, loose skin, wrinkles, and other age-related changes.
The good news is that even with age, you can keep sufficient levels of collagen in your body if you follow a healthy diet, sleep well, and drink enough water. But there’s one more effective way of increasing your collagen level naturally and feeling younger at any age – and that is taking collagen supplements.
Let’s look at 4 science-backed benefits of collagen supplements for your health and appearance.
1. Healthier, younger-looking skin
Collagen keeps your skin youthful and firm. As the synthesis of collagen decreases with aging, the skin gradually loses its moisture and elasticity, getting those stubborn wrinkles and sagginess.
Studies demonstrated that collagen supplements can significantly improve skin density, hydration, and elasticity, so you can enjoy smoother, plumper skin with fewer wrinkles as you age.
2. Healthier joints & bones
Keeping joints and bones strong and flexible is another important function of collagen. Healthy bones, joints, and cartilage help us lead an active lifestyle and enjoy proper body flexibility.
As we get older, we often face joint-related health issues – such as osteoarthritis – that cause joint pain and decrease our mobility. Besides, our Bone Mineral Density (BMD) decreases with age, which in its turn, increases the risk of bone fractures.
Collagen peptide supplements have been proven to be highly effective in improving joint health and physical function as well as reducing joint pain. Our skeleton benefits from collagen supplements too, as they help decrease and prevent bone density loss.
3. Better athletic performance
Connective tissues of athletes are constantly under pressure because of the regular intense physical activity. Collagen comes to the rescue and provides much-needed moisture, elasticity, and strengths to the tissues of joints and muscles, supporting their regeneration.
Studies show that athletes who take collagen peptides enjoy lower muscle soreness and faster exercise recovery. Another research demonstrated that collagen peptide supplementation in combination with resistance training increases fat-free mass and muscle strength while promoting fat loss more effectively than the same resistance training without the supplementation.
Besides, we already know that collagen supplements help keep joints and bones healthy and strong, which altogether help athletes avoid injuries and boost their sports performance.
4. Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
Collagen plays an important role in our cardiovascular health too. This study demonstrated that collagen tripeptide supplement can help prevent and treat atherosclerosis – the dominant cause of cardiovascular disease, including stroke, coronary artery disease, myocardial infarction, heart failure, and claudication.
After the supplement treatment, the participants’ LDL to HDL cholesterol ratio was significantly reduced, which also decreases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
This is not by far a complete list of all benefits you can get from taking collagen supplements, and there are other claimed positive effects attributed to this protein that require additional research – from the reduction of inflammation in the gut to nail & hair strengthening.
Additionally, one study found that collagen VI has important neuroprotective functions and can protect brain cells against amyloid-beta proteins which are believed to cause Alzheimer's disease. It’s still unclear if this positive effect can be achieved by taking collagen supplements, but the important role of collagen in brain health is already evident.
Choosing collagen supplements
There are different forms of collagen supplements you can take, but they are not equally effective.
For example, common collagen supplements coming in powder or capsule forms are bovine or marine collagen made of ground animal parts (skin, hair, and hooves of cows in bovine collagen and fish parts in marine one).
According to a collagen expert Regina Renee, the absorption rate of such powder collagen is just 10-20%, while certain types of liquid hydrolyzed collagen derived from chicken sternal cartilage can have up to 98% absorption rate, mimicking the human body connective tissue.
There are also plant-based collagen supplements – they are mostly based on vitamin C which is known for its ability to promote the production of collagen in the body.
Overall, when choosing collagen supplements, strive to select brands that offer third-party quality certifications, transparency of their sources and processes, and clear ingredient lists.