In the never-ending search for all things that will promote health, beauty and youthfulness, collagen is not to be dismissed as far as being very much present in the pool of public and scientific opinion. It has been hailed as the magic ingredient to cure aches and pains, as well as something of an ingestible fountain of youth. Interesting and being something of a science geek I went digging to see just what was fact and what was largely fiction.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body. It is what makes up the majority of all the connective tissue in the body found in ligaments, tendons, skin and muscles. Collagen is also what gives your skin its structure and it is a huge influencer impacting bone strength. Despite a lack of strong evidence to support the claim, collagen supplements, have become a very hot commodity. So much so that, that a 52 week market research study ending in February of 2019 reported that US consumers spent $46.6 million dollars on collagen supplements.
Most of the research, as far as any claims about the correlation between collagen and looking youthful, there is nothing substantial to back that up. However, there are a 5 SCIENCE BACKED claims that I did find when investigating the infinite claims being made about collagen’s benefits.
May Relieve/Decrease Joint Pain
So we know that collage is definitely important when it comes to keeping our joints healthy, happy and mobile. We also know that as we get older, as with a lot of other things, our bodies do not produce certain compounds as quickly or in the same quantities it did when we were younger. Well, guess what? Collagen behaves pretty much the same way in that as we age, the amount of collagen in our body decreases.
I found a few studies on the impact that taking collagen had on joint pain and honestly, the results are rather encouraging. One study involving 73 athletes who took 10 grams of collagen daily over the course of 24 weeks, reported a noticeable reduction in their joint pain when walking, as well as when they were not being active. (2)
Another double-blind, placebo- controlled trial involving adults who consumed 2 grams of collagen daily for 70 days showed that these adults reported a significant decrease in their joint pain, as well as being more easily able to participate in physical activity without experiencing pain. (3)
This is very promising research and it would make one assume that in supplementing with collagen, it has the potential to accumulate in the cartilage and influences your tissues to produce more of its’ own.
May Help to Prevent Bone Loss
Since our collagen levels decline with age and
our bones are made up mostly of collagen, it’s safe to say that this has a tremendous impact on bone density. A huge risk that accompanies bone density loss is osteoarthritis and osteo- related injuries.
Anything that can have a positive impact on reducing the loss of bone mass and keeping bones strong into our senior years is a bonus!
One research study done between 1994 and 2014 showed that taking collagen supplements MAY help prevent the breakdown of bone that leads to osteoporosis. (4)
Another study that I want to mention is one that was done involving 66 women with age related bone mineral density loss. These women took 5 grams of collagen daily for 12 months. At the end of the clinical trial, these women had a 7% increase in their bone mineral density! (5)
May Improve Skin Health
Collagen is making itself known as a supplement that will yield the benefits of youthfulness despite aging and well . . . the effects of gravity!
Yes, collagen is a major component of our skin structure that gives it that tight, young elasticity that we all took for granted in our teens, and early to mid-adult years. But can taking a collagen supplement or even eating more collagen-dense foods actually impact our skin and help us to look years younger? Hmmmmm …
In what I found that was the only real “reliable” research, it seems that taking a collagen supplement in and of itself is not the greatest influencer in promoting more youthful skin.
It does appear though, that taking collagen MAY stimulate your body to produce more of its own collagen. Thus, an increase in collagen may result in less hydration, greater skin elasticity and therefore a more youthful appearance. (6)
I also want to mention that taking collagen supplements may also facilitate the production of other proteins that impact the skins elasticity, such as fibrillar and elastin. (7)
May Help to Increase Muscle Mass
Before you rush out to purchase collagen in the hopes of gaining an “Arnold-worthy” physique, please KEEP READING!
The scientific research that supports this claim is based on clinical trials involving men who had age related muscle mass loss, known as Sarcopenia. NOT 20 and 30-somethings prepping for the Olympia. The study also included 60 minutes of resistance training 3 times per week to measure and evaluate any gains made with respect to muscle mass.
What this study showed was that at the end of the 12 week study, the 27 men who took 27 grams of collagen daily, along with performing 60 minutes of resistance training 3 times per week did gain significant muscles mass. (8)
May Support Good Heart Health
Collagen is an important component in the structure of arteries. Without enough collagen our arteries can become weak and fragile, potentially putting us at risk of Atherosclerosis.
A study involving 31 healthy adults who took 16 grams of collagen daily for 6 months experienced great improvement in arterial elasticity compared to before they started taking collagen. (9)
There have been other health benefits of taking collagen that are more implied than valid conclusive evidence, as they are not yet backed by enough scientific research. These include the possibility that taking collagen may help to promote better gut health, specifically Leaky Gut Syndrome, as well as brain health and even to promote weight loss. I suppose we shall see what is uncovered in the future.
- http://www.nutritionaloutlook.com/beauty/collagen-product-sales-are- skyrocketing-supplements-food