Collagen is the most abundant type of protein in the body and a main component of skin, bone, cartilage, and tendons. The body naturally makes collagen, but by your 20s, the body starts producing less each year. Collagen levels drop even quicker due to excess alcohol, sun exposure, high-stress levels, and lack of sleep or exercise.
Luckily, there are effective ways to boost collagen levels. Eating vitamin C-rich foods like citrus fruits and cabbage, consuming collagen-rich foods like seafood and meats, and taking collagen supplements have shown positive results. Collagen supplements have grown increasingly popular in recent years as more people are discovering their benefits.
Amino acid profile of collagen
Collagen’s fundamental building blocks —and other proteins — are called amino acids. Amino acids provide many health benefits.
Collagen contains an abundance of proline, an amino acid that supports joint and cardiovascular health.
Glycine amounts to about a third of the protein content of collagen and is particularly beneficial for boosting energy and muscle growth. Hydroxyproline, an amino acid, is derived from proline, which is essential for skin, bone, and joint health.
Glutamine — the body’s most abundant amino acid — is another key amino acid found in collagen. It supports gut and immune health, has anti-anxiety effects, and promotes better sleep.
Arginine, which helps to build your body’s protein, is vital for immune and heart health and can also enhance libido.
A complete protein contains all 20 amino acids used by the human body — collagen contains 19 of them, missing only tryptophan.
The health benefits of collagen:
Improves skin health. Collagen is best known for its anti-wrinkle and anti-aging qualities. Based on a review of multiple studies, researchers found that collagen supplements help increase skin elasticity, hydration, and collagen density of the skin. Taking collagen for 8-24 weeks can help improve skin appearance, particularly looking more firm, smooth and elastic. Collagen may also promote wound healing and help reduce cellulite.
Decreases joint pain and degeneration. Scientists found collagen to be beneficial for managing osteoarthritis and other diseases associated with joint pain.
Helps improve gut lining and overall digestive health. Diseases like Crohn’s and ulcerative conditions are associated with lower collagen levels. Taking supplements may help decrease gut inflammation and improve digestion.
Supports healthy metabolism, improves body composition, and may help shed excess weight. Collagen is a great supplement for everyone, but fitness enthusiasts may notice more benefits. Based on research studies, collagen promotes muscle strength and repair, improves body composition, and supports healthy weight loss while boosting joint functionality and decreasing pain.
Helps keep the nails, hair, and teeth strong and healthy. Adding collagen supplements to the diet may help maintain healthy nails and teeth and possibly reduce hair loss as well.
It is great for the heart, too. Amino acids in collagen, particularly proline and arginine, help maintain healthy blood vessels and control blood pressure.
Types of collagen supplements
The body has over two dozen types of collagen in the body. Type 1 is the most abundant, but you’ll find types 2, 3, 5, and 10 in collagen supplements as well.
Collagen formulas from health food stores may contain one or more types of collagen, depending on the source. Understanding the different types of collagen can help a person choose the best supplement for a specific health goal.
Bovine collagen comes from cow’s hides. It is rich in type 1 and 3 collagen. These are the most common forms of collagen found in many bodily tissues, including the skin, joints, major organs, blood vessels, bones, and digestive tract. Type 1 and 3 collagen promote healthy skin, help build muscles, improve digestion, and support the body’s collagen production.
Chicken collagen contains predominantly type 2 collagen, which supports joint health.
Marine collagen is derived from fish and contains mostly type 1 collagen. Since collagen type 1 makes up almost 90% of all collagen in the body, this supplement can help support skin, joint, muscle, heart, and digestive health.
Egg collagen comes from the eggshell membrane and egg whites. It is abundant in type 1 collagen but also contains type 3, 5, and 10. Egg collagen helps build connective tissues, build muscle mass, reduce joint pain, and promote wound healing.
The differences between collagen, gelatin, and bone broth
Both collagen and bone broth are available in health food stores as supplements. You can find gelatin in your grocer’s baking section. How do they differ from one another? When collagen breaks down, it becomes gelatin. Bone broth is also a rich source of collagen but contains other nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids. Bone broth is made by simmering animal bones, chicken feet, and cartilage, along with vegetables and herbs.
It is important to note that collagen is available in hydrolyzed form in supplements, meaning the protein is already broken down into smaller amino acid chains which are easier and faster absorbed in the body.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, and the levels naturally decrease during the aging process. Luckily, hydrolyzed collagen supplements are easily absorbed in the body and help support skin, joint, digestive, and heart health.
For optimal benefits, talk to a healthcare professional to learn more about the right doses , benefits and safety of collagen supplements. Like other natural supplements,collagen is not approved by the FDA to treat or prevent any condition.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body and plays key roles in skin, hair, joints, and digestive health.
Collagen supplements may contain different types of collagen and each type has its unique health benefits.
Collagen supplements promote healthy skin and joints, boost metabolism, and may help improve digestive and heart health.
Based on research studies, the health benefits of collagen supplements are seen after eight weeks or more.
Journal of Drugs in Pharmacology: Oral Collagen Supplementation: A Systematic Review of Dermatological Applications
Dr.Axe: What is collagen?