Collagen is an essential protein for human growth and development. This protein helps provide support and elasticity to the skin, muscles, joints, bones, and more. People naturally generate some collagen themselves, but the amount of collagen a person produces will decrease over time. Fortunately, it is possible to get extra collagen from a person’s diet, so people can eat collagen-rich foods and take collagen supplements to increase their collagen levels. Regularly taking a collagen supplement can come with many practical benefits.
Better Joint Health
The cartilage that cushions joints as they move is built up primarily of collagen. Therefore, collagen supplements may be a great way to help keep joints functioning normally as you age. This can help provide joint comfort and promote mobility. A review of studies conducted between 1994 and 2014 found that people who regularly take collagen peptide (hydrolysate) supplements experience better joint and bone health.
Research from the Journal of Medical Nutrition and Nutraceuticals found that women who drank a collagen supplement had a significant improvement in wrinkle depth. Scientists believe this happens because collagen helps to improve moisture levels and elasticity in the skin, so it smooths out the appearance of wrinkles.
Collagen can do more than just help you cope with some of the common effects of aging. A 2015 study had participants take collagen after each exercise session. Over 12 weeks, those who took collagen had a significantly higher amount of muscle mass than a control group who exercised without collagen. Scientists theorize that collagen helps with strength by stimulating the production of the proteins needed to grow muscles.
Enhanced Heart Health
Collagen’s ability to improve elasticity also has benefits inside the body. A small study of people who took collagen supplements found that regular supplementation improved artery elasticity. This is important because stiffer arteries are more likely to break, increasing risk of unwanted health consequences. Taking collagen may be able to help support cardiovascular health.
Improved Bone Density
As collagen production slows with age, bones tend to weaken, becoming brittle enough to break after even small falls. Collagen supplementation may be able to promote stronger bones. Some research indicates that collagen can increase bone density when combined with regular calcium supplementation.