Collagen is a protein making up a significant portion of our skin, bones, and connective tissues. It has gained popularity as a supplement for its potential benefits of keeping the skin young and elastic, but it also offers various positive effects supporting overall health and wellness.
Collagen is an abundant protein part of many structural and connective tissues in the body.
It is isolated from various animal sources and processed into supplements taken to counteract the collagen loss of aging.
Three popular forms of collagen supplements are currently marketed: hydrolyzed, undenatured, and gelatin.
Collagen is safe to take together with vitamins and other supplements.
While our bodies naturally produce collagen, production declines as we age, leading to wrinkles, joint pain, and other signs of aging. As a result, many people turn to collagen supplements to help replenish their body's natural stores to combat aging or to reap its other health benefits.
Knowing how much collagen to take to see results can be challenging with so many forms and dosages available. This article explores the science behind collagen supplementation and provide insights into how much collagen is needed to achieve your desired outcomes.
What are the types of collagen?
Collagen is a protein comprising a unique combination of amino acids, including glycine, proline, hydroxyproline, and arginine. Interestingly, collagen has many types, and they can have unique functions — up to 28 types of collagen are currently identified, differing in structure, composition, and location. Despite these differences, they are characterized by having at least one helix structure.
Among these are five primary types of collagen:
|Type I||Around 90% of the collagen in the human body is of this type, making it the most abundant. It is found in skin, bones, tendons, ligaments, and teeth, and provides structural support and helps maintain the integrity of these tissues.|
|Type II||This type of collagen is found in cartilage, the flexible tissue that cushions joints. It helps provide elasticity and shock absorption to the joints.|
|Type III||This type is commonly found with Type I, including bone marrow, vasculature, and organs. It is the main component of the reticulin fibers, secreted by reticular cells that form a network mesh with several functions in structural support, wound healing, and immune support.|
|Type IV||This type of collagen is found at the basement membrane of cells, which helps anchor cells to their surrounding tissues and regulates the exchange of substances between cells and adjacent tissues.|
|Type V||This type is abundant in the eye cornea, placenta, and dermal/epidermal region of the skin. Notably, type V collagen is required for the fibrillation of type I and III collagen.|
Why should you take collagen?
As you age, your body naturally makes less collagen. Starting in the 40s, the body can lose approximately 1% of collagen each year. By the time you are in your 60s or 70s, collagen loss will adversely affect your hair, skin, and joint health. Hence, individuals often take supplements to combat aging-associated collagen decline and promote overall health. Meanwhile, others take collagen as a source of protein for meal replacement.
Here are the top reasons why you should consider taking collagen supplements:
Supplementing with collagen has been shown to improve skin health by increasing skin moisture and elasticity, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and promoting the production of other supportive proteins like elastin and fibrillin.
Research suggests that supplementing with collagen may help to improve joint health by stimulating the production of new cartilage, reducing inflammation, and protecting existing cartilage from degradation. Collagen may also help to improve joint mobility, decrease pain, and support overall joint health.
Collagen is a key component of the gut lining, and supplementation may help to support gut health by reducing inflammation, improving digestion and absorption of nutrients, and promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria.
Nails and hair
Like bones and joints, collagen is a significant building block of nails and hair, and supplementing with it may promote health and growth. Collagen can improve nail strength, reduce brittleness, and increase hair thickness, shine, and overall health.
Collagen makes up about 10% of muscular tissue. Strength and resistance exercise, and a collagen protein supplement, may help you gain lean muscle mass and greater control over your body's composition.
Collagen can aid in weight loss by increasing satiety, reducing appetite, and improving metabolism. It can also support healthy muscle growth, aiding in weight loss efforts. However, collagen alone is not a magic weight loss solution and should be combined with a healthy diet and exercise.
How much collagen should I take per day?
With collagen's broad beneficial effects, nearly everyone can benefit from its supplementation. Dosage may vary depending on the purpose of use and dosage forms.
The most popular forms of collagen supplements are:
Hydrolyzed collagen is the most common form of collagen supplement derived from various animals, including fowl, swine, cattle, and shellfish.
A lower dosage of 2.5 g per day might help with hydration, skin health, and joint discomfort. It has been suggested that increasing this dosage to 5 g per day could increase bone integrity. Lastly, higher doses of hydrolyzed collagen (15 g per day) have mainly been used to help muscles grow.
Collagen that has not been denatured comes from poultry bones. Some research shows taking 10 to 40 mg per day of undenatured collagen can significantly improve your joints' health.
Gelatin is a part of gelatinous candies. It comes from animals and is mostly used in cooking. For increased collagen proteins, gelatin can be added to stews, soups, smoothies, and other meals.
Manufacturers commonly advise consuming 1–2 scoops of the powder form per day. But the amount of collagen in a supplement can vary depending on how it is made, so read the product label to determine how much to take.
Can you take too much collagen?
Collagen is considered generally safe, but excessive intake of collagen supplements may cause undesirable effects like digestive discomfort, such as bloating, diarrhea, and constipation. Additionally, it may interfere with nutrient absorption and increase calcium levels in the blood, potentially leading to kidney stones.
Due to limited scientific evidence on high-dose collagen supplementation, it is advisable to follow the recommended dosage on the product label or as advised by a healthcare professional. Consulting a healthcare professional before taking excess collagen supplements is also recommended.
When is the best time to take collagen supplements?
Collagen supplements can be taken any time of the day, depending on the individual's goals and preferences:
- For repair and regeneration. Take collagen at night for skin and muscle repair. At night or before bed, collagen supplements may better help the body's natural healing and repair process, as collagen synthesis occurs during sleep.
- For weight loss and management. Some individuals prefer taking collagen in the morning. When taken before working out, collagen may boost metabolism and energy throughout the day.
Collagen can be safely combined with most vitamins and supplements you may require to improve your overall health. For example, biotin is often combined with collagen because they work best together to promote collagen's health benefits. The recommended dose for biotin is 30–100 mcg daily, and for collagen, around 2.5–15 g, depending on the form and source. Biotin is usually taken in the form of a pill, whereas collagen comes in a variety of forms.
When will you start seeing the results of collagen?
The time it takes to see the results of collagen supplementation varies from person to person and depends on several factors, including:
- Purpose of use
- Amount of collagen taken
- Form of collagen supplement
- Individual health status
Some people may start to see improvements in their skin, hair, and joint health within a few weeks of beginning collagen supplementation, while others may take 3–6 months to notice any changes. Consistent and long-term use of collagen supplements is recommended for optimal results.
Who should not take collagen?
Individuals with certain medical conditions, such as kidney disease, or those allergic to certain sources of collagen, such as fish, should avoid collagen supplements. Pregnant and breastfeeding women, or those with underlying medical conditions, should consult a healthcare provider before taking collagen supplements.
Is it OK to take collagen every day?
Yes, it is generally considered safe to take collagen supplements daily, following general recommendations. Collagen is a naturally occurring protein in the body and is, generally, well-tolerated in supplement form. However, following the recommended dosage on the product label or as advised by a healthcare professional is important. Excessive intake of collagen supplements may have adverse effects.
How much collagen should I take daily for wrinkles?
There is no specific, recommended daily dosage of collagen for wrinkles. However, studies have shown that taking 2.5–15 grams of collagen daily for 8–12 weeks may help improve skin elasticity, moisture, and wrinkles. It's best to follow the dosage recommendations on the product label or as advised by a healthcare professional.
- British Journal of Dermatology. The influence of age and sex on skin thickness, skin collagen and density.
- Skin Pharmacology and Physiology. Oral intake of specific bioactive collagen peptides reduces skin wrinkles and increases dermal matrix synthesis.
- Journal of Medicinal Food. A calcium-collagen chelate dietary supplement attenuates bone loss in postmenopausal women with osteopenia: a randomized controlled trial.
- Nutrients. Specific Collagen Peptides in Combination with Resistance Training Improve Body Composition and Regional Muscle Strength in Premenopausal Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial.
- International Journal of Medical Sciences. Safety and efficacy of undenatured type II collagen in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee: a clinical trial.
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- Osteoarthritis Cartilage. Symptomatic and chondroprotective treatment with collagen derivatives in osteoarthritis: a systematic review.
- British Journal of Nutrition. Collagen peptide supplementation in combination with resistance training improves body composition and increases muscle strength in elderly sarcopenic men: a randomised controlled trial.