Our top ten health and beauty benefits from well-being expert Charlotte Dormon
1. ANTI- AGEING AND SKIN
Collagen is probably best known for its effects on anti-ageing and improving skin quality as we age. It is the “glue” that holds you together and makes up about one-third of the protein in the body. As we age, our natural collagen production goes down and so adding collagen to your diet will replace what your body begins to lack naturally. Skin health is probably the most well-researched benefit of taking collagen, and collagen has been shown to help keep a youthful appearance by improving skin hydration - making skin look plumper and less aged.
2. HAIR & NAILS HEALTH
Another unpleasant side effect of getting older is that many women and men experience hair loss or thinning as they age, but studies have shown that there are significant increases in hair quantity, scalp coverage, and thickness while taking daily collagen supplements. If your nails break easily or you notice that they are not growing as fast, try adding collagen to your diet. One study of a group of women showed faster nail growth and fewer broken or chipped nails after only four weeks of taking daily collagen.
3. AN EASY-TO-DIGEST SOURCE OF PROTEIN
Collagen supplementation may potentially be a more comfortable way to get protein into your diet. The body digests protein from animal sources like chicken or beef, but these have to go through long digestive processes to get broken down into small particles that can be used by the body. However, collagen supplements are hydrolyzed, meaning the collagen is broken down - a process that makes it easier for the body to digest. The process of hydrolyzing also allows collagen peptides to dissolve in water, which makes it relatively simple to use them in everyday foods (like water or smoothies).
4. JOINT ACHES & PAINS
Joints are composed of cartilage, which is largely made up of collagen, and so taking daily collagen can support cartilage repair and may also have an anti-inflammatory effect. This means that if you are having a hard time exercising or being active due to joint pain, taking collagen can help you get back on track with your fitness goals. One study found that athletes with knee pain who took 5g of collagen peptides daily for 12 weeks had less joint pain during exercise compared with a placebo group.
5. GUT HEALTH
If you suffer from Irritable Bowel Disease or another kind of inflammatory digestive condition, listen up, as there is a “gut healing” theory about collagen. Collagen forms the connective fibres in tissues and so improving your collagen intake may provide a supportive environment where tissues can start to heal. Some research has found that collagen levels were lower in patients with these conditions, but by taking collagen, you can help to correct the deficiency. Research showed there was an imbalance between the formation and breakdown of collagen fibres, and this was connected to inflammation. Past research also shows that IBD patients have decreased serum levels of type 4 collagen.
6. HEART HEALTH
Adding a scoop of collagen to your daily smoothie or coffee could also be good for your heart. One study looked at 32 participants who took a collagen tripeptide twice a day. After six months, markers of atherosclerosis (buildup in artery walls), including measures of cholesterol and arterial stiffness, had improved (atherosclerosis affects the arteries that lead to your heart and is known as coronary artery disease, which is the deadliest form of heart disease). Researchers think that collagen may help fortify blood vessel walls to reduce the risk of artery disease.
7. HEALTHY BONES
As we age, bones become less dense and more brittle, breaking more easily and taking longer to heal. Studies have shown that daily collagen supplements can help make your bones denser, slowing the ageing process that makes them brittle. Also, bone mineral density decreases, especially for women after menopause. In a trial on post-menopausal women, participants who took collagen peptides for one year increased their bone mineral density compared with the control group. It was thought that this was because collagen stimulated bone formation while slowing down bone loss.
8. A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP
A surprising benefit of taking collagen is the positive impact it can have on your sleep. This is because collagen is loaded with the amino acid glycine, an inhibitory neurotransmitter that calms the central nervous system and helps us to unwind, relax, and fall asleep.
9. BUILDING MUSCLE
Adding extra collagen into your diet can help you build muscle as collagen is the main structural protein in your muscles. One study featured older adults with age-related muscle loss, who completed 12 weeks of weight training. Half of the participants took collagen peptide supplements, while the other half took a placebo. Those who took collagen peptides experienced a greater improvement in muscle mass and strength. They also lost more fat mass than the placebo group. These results suggest that collagen supplements can support the loss of body fat by enhancing the effects of weight training on muscle mass.
10. MAINTAINING A HEALTHY WEIGHT
Eating enough protein is important to a healthy diet, as protein is needed to support your body in building muscle. So adding collagen powder to your diet is an easy way to help increase your protein intake. Lean tissue, such as muscle, is more metabolically active than fat, and so this leads to a faster metabolism and can help you to maintain a healthy weight.