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What are the top benefits of taking collagen supplements?

There has been an abundance of research investigating the benefits of taking collagen, and here is what we know:

 

 

 

Taking oral collagen:

 

  1. Improves skin elasticity, skin hydration and reduces the visibility of aging

 

In 2018, Kim and colleagues undertook a randomized, double-blind, placebo- controlled study to investigate the effects of oral collagen peptides on skin. This study is considered the “gold standard” for this type of research, as neither the participants or researchers know which people are taking collagen and which are taking a placebo supplement. The researchers gave 40-60 year old women daily oral collagen and found significant improvements in skin hydration, wrinkling and elasticity (i.e. tightening of the skin) after only 12 weeks when compared to women who took a placebo supplement. Similar results were found in other “gold standard” studies by Proksch and colleagues in 2013 and Asserin and colleagues in 2015. These two studies included women aged 35 to 59 years of age who were given daily oral collagen or a placebo supplement. These researchers found statistically significant improvements in skin elasticity after both 4 and 8 weeks (Proksch et al.) and skin hydration after 8 weeks (Asserin et al.).

The above research suggests that taking oral collagen can improve skin hydration, elasticity and wrinkling in women aged between 35-60. So, what are you waiting for?

 

  1. Encourages strong bones in women after menopause

 

Numerous studies have investigated the role of oral collagen peptides and its effects of bone mineral density in post-menopausal women with either osteopenia or osteoporosis (aged approx. 55 to 70). König and colleagues (2018) found that taking 5g of collagen daily for 12 months improved bone mineral density in the neck and lumbar spine, whereas women taking a placebo supplement showed no significant improvements.

Researchers Argyrou and colleagues (2020) gave 5g of daily collagen to post-menopausal women with osteopenia, together with calcium (500mg elemental calcium) and vitamin D3 (400iu). They measured blood levels of two “bone formation markers” called P1NP and CTX. Bone markers measure bone turnover, which is the process of bone tissue breaking down and new bone tissue growing in its place. As we get older, our rate of bone turnover increases and often, old bone tissue breaks down faster than our body is able to replace it. This process leads to bone density loss and eventually, osteopenia and osteoporosis. Argyrou and colleagues found that women who took daily oral collagen together with calcium and vitamin D for 3 months, showed decreased P1NP and CTX levels, which means that their bone turnover had slowed down. Interestingly, women who took only calcium and vitamin D for the same 3 month period showed no changes in bone marker levels.

Both of the studies discussed here provide excellent evidence that oral collagen peptide supplementation can improve both bone density and bone markers in post-menopausal women. This suggests that collagen supplementation may be useful to help reduce the risk of bone density disorders and delay the onset of osteoporosis.

 

  1. Encourages joint repair

 

There have been more than 60 scientific studies displaying the positive effects of taking oral collagen peptides for degenerative joint diseases such as osteoarthritis.

But how do the collagen peptides do this? Clinical research has shown that the peptides stimulate regeneration of collagenic tissues by increasing the production of collagen, thus providing the body with what it needs to increase collagen levels as they naturally decline with age.

Researchers, Juher and Pérez (2015), collated all of the available 60 studies and found strong evidence that taking 10g of collagen peptides daily reduced collagen damage, reduced joint pain and reduced erosion of joints (osteoarthritis). They also recorded feedback from thousands of participants in these studies and found that collagen peptides were tolerated well (i.e. were free from negative side-effects) and had excellent digestibility and bioavailability, making collagen an attractive supplement to take for long-term use.

 

  1. Collagen and weight loss: Myth or reality?

 

Some people have asked if they can gain weight from taking collagen supplements. Well, you’ll be pleased to hear that collagen supplementation has actually been found to support weight loss and weight management in men and women who are overweight.

 

Worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975, and in 2016 nearly 2 billion adults were overweight, with 650 million of these being obese (World Health Organisation, 2020). The more overweight a person is, the higher their risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis and certain cancers. However, overweight and obesity are, for the most part, preventable if people are able to eat healthily and do regular exercise.

There are many claims that certain supplements may help you to lose weight, but rarely is there any scientific research to back-up these types of claims. A few studies have investigated whether oral ingestion of collagen peptides may support weight loss, and these studies have shown promising results. For example, Zdzieblik and colleagues (2015) measured fat mass using DEXA x-rays in men aged 68 – 77 years of age who took 15g of collagen peptides after resistance exercise training (3 x a week) for 12 weeks. Compared to men who took a placebo supplement, the researchers found that fat mass decreased, and muscle strength increased, significantly more in those who took collagen after exercise. These results suggest that oral collagen may increase the fat reducing effects of exercise, alongside the benefits of joint and bone support mentioned in research above.

Another recent “gold standard” study investigated the effects of daily ingestion of oral marine collagen peptides in overweight men and women aged 30 – 50. After 12 weeks, Tak and colleagues (2019) found that percentage of body fat and body fat mass (kg) (measured using DEXA) were significantly improved in those who took daily collagen compared to those who took a placebo supplement. These results suggest that there is potential for the use of collagen peptides in the reduction of body fat in overweight adults.

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