*Citation links are provided next to each collagen peptide benefit claim pointing to the source and studies referenced.
INTRODUCTION TO COLLAGEN PEPTIDES
Basically, we know proteins to be a class of macronutrients that are essential for daily living. Proteins helps to build up the tissues, repair broken down or insured tissues, and enhance general body growth. Of all the subtypes of proteins that we have in the human body, collagen seems to be the most abundant.
Collagen makes up a greater portion of the connective tissues that are present in body tissues and organs such the ligaments, muscles, tendon and the skin (1).
The collagen has a number of functions that include giving the skin its structure, and adding strength to the bones (1).
Of recent, collagen peptides and supplements have gotten popular. These peptides are mostly hydrolyzed implying that they have been broken down, and are thus easy to absorb.
Some foods increase the collagen in our bodies – including bone broth and skin from pork.
The aim of this article is to highlight some of the health benefits of collagen peptides. These benefits are all evidence-based.
SKIN HEALTH IS IMPROVED
One of the very important components of the human skin is collagen.
Collagen strengthens the skin. It also contributes to the elastic nature of the skin, alongside hydrating it. As we get older, our skin wrinkles. This is because the production of collagen has drastically reduced. The end result of this is the appearance of wrinkles, and of course, the formation of dry skin (4).
A study was done on women taking 2.5-5.0 grams of collagen for 2 months (8 weeks). At the end of the study, it was discovered that members of the experimental group had a more elastic skin with very little dryness compared to the control group (7).
A second study was able to prove that women who added some collagen supplement to their beverage drink had an increased skin hydration compared to the control group. Formation of wrinkles was also drastically reduced (6).
RELIEF FROM JOINT PAIN
Collagen keeps the cartilage intact. The cartilage is a tissue that helps to protect the joint. It has a rubber-like structure.
As we age, the collagen in our body decreases. This raises the risk of joint disorders like osteoarthritis (9).
A study was conducted involving 73 athletes. The goal of the study was to check the effect that collagen peptides had on joint pain. The athletes were made to take 10g of collagen per day for 24 weeks. This group of athletes that took the collagen had a decreased joint pain compared to the control group who did not take it (10).
A second study examined the effect of daily intake of 2g of collagen on adults for 70 days. Subjects who took the supplement had reduced joint pain and could perform well in physical activity compared to those that did not take it (11).
According to research, collagen peptides enhance the buildup of cartilage and also stimulate the production of collagen by the tissues.
It is believed that this may reduce inflammation, boost joint support, and of course, reduce pain (12).
BONE LOSS IS PREVENTED
The bone consists mainly of collagen. This collagen contributes to the strength and structure of the bone (14).
Because the quality of collagen in our body deteriorates as we get older, so does the strength and quality of our bones. This results in osteoporosis, whose main feature is low bone density and a high risk of fracture (14, 15).
Research has led to conclusion that intake of collagen peptides can protect against osteoporosis (9, 13). A particular study examined the effect of collagen on osteoporosis. Participants in the study were grouped into two – one group was placed on calcium supplement, while the other group was placed on both collagen and calcium supplement for 12 months.
Analysis of the study results showed that the collagen + calcium group had very low levels of proteins that promote osteoporosis compared to the group that took only calcium (16).
Another research was done involving 66 female participants. These were asked to take 5 grams of collagen on a daily basis for 12 months.
It was discovered that intake of the collagen increased the bone mineral density of the participants by 7% (17).
Bone mineral density refers to the total amount of minerals present in the bone. When a person has low bone mineral density, such individual will have weak bones and develops osteoporosis (18).
Of course these are promising results, but it is subject to further research, especially human studies before it can be fully documented.
INCREASED MUSCLE MASS
Collagen makes up to 10% of muscle tissue. It plays a very important role in that it allows the muscles to remain strong and to function at optimum levels (19).
Research has shown that collagen peptides increases muscle mass in sarcopenic patients. sarcopenia refers to a reduction in muscle mass that occurs with age (20).
A study was done on 27 main with frail structure for 12 weeks. The men were asked to take 15 grams of collagen for the study duration. The result was an increase in muscle strength and mass. Theirs was significantly more than the men who did not take the collagen (20).
It is believed that intake of collagen may boost the production of muscle proteins like creatine. It also stimulates the growth of muscles after exercise (20).
THE CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH RECEIVES A BOOST
It is believed that collagen peptides may drastically reduce the risk of cardiovascular conditions.
Collagen builds up the arteries. If an individual is lacking in collagen, the arteries will become weak and even fragile (1).
The end result is atherosclerosis, a potential risk factor for stroke and heart disease (21).
A study was done to examine the effect of collagen peptides on heart health. 31 adults with no prior health issue were involved in the study. They were placed on a daily dose of 16g of collagen for six months. By the end of the study, the stiffness of the artery was significantly reduced (22).
Also, they had an increase in HDL cholesterol (22).
FOODS CONTAINING COLLAGEN
Foods that have a high gelatin content, for example, bone broth, are also rich in collagen (23).
WHAT FORM OF COLLAGEN PEPTIDE IS BEST FOR ME?
Let’s look at the options:
Collagen powder: The powdered form of collagen is quite popular. This form dissolves easily in liquids. You can find it in a packet or in a tub. It goes well with drinks, food, and smoothies.
Actually, the powdered form of collagen seems to be the best way to take collagen for a number of reasons. The first is its versatile nature, followed by its taste or lack of taste (if you may), and also, it allows you to decide the best way to attain your collagen goals.
PROS: They are sold in packets or tubs, which means that they are very versatile such that you can add it to just anything. It is compatible with your smoothies, water, coffee, and omelette.
CONS: Some persons are very sensitive to taste and may not want to add it to food.
Collagen capsules: So, this is good for pill lovers.
PROS: You don’t have to go through the stress of stirring, shaking, or even add it to any recipe or drink. Just swallow it with a large glass of water as you would with any pill, and you are good to go!
CONS: Because you need a large amount of collagen, the pills may be quite large (in size), and you will need to take a whole lot of them. So if you do not like taking pills, then this may not be a good option for you.
An interesting point to note! Collagen capsules are actually collagen powder enclosed in a gel capsule.
Liquid collagen: So collagen is also present in liquid form.
PROS: They are ready to drink! So you don’t have to go through the stress of swallowing or mixing (as in the capsule and powdered forms).
CONS: The disadvantage here is that you cannot take it a way that you would have preferred, like adding it to food, baking, in soups, etc. and also, you may not like the taste.
HOW TO TAKE LIQUID COLLAGEN: Just go for your preferred brand and sip it or take it in one shot.
Injections: Collagen also exists in injectable forms. This form is basically for those who wish to improve their skin tone and appearance.
PROS: The results are somewhat immediate.
CONS: Those who are averse to needles may not like this option. Your dermis is the target, and the collagen is delivered with fine needles. Even after you are tested for allergies, there is the risk of a reaction. Why? The body happens to be very mysterious!
Consult your dermatologist for an injection. You don’t have to do it yourself!
So, now that you know the different forms of collagen, you can go ahead and decide which is best for you.
ANY KNOWN SIDE EFFECTS?
Presently, collagen peptides does not have many risks.
However, it should be noted that some peptides or supplements are produced from common allergens such as eggs, shellfish, and fish. Individuals who are allergic to these foods should not use supplements that are made from it. The goal is to protect against allergic reactions.
There have been complaints of collagen peptides leaving a bad taste for days in the mouths of users (13).
Also, there are side effects in the digestive system such as heartburn and the feeling of fullness (13).
These side effects notwithstanding, collagen peptides are very safe.