Do collagen supplements work – this is a common question many people have started to ask over the last few years. It seems promising with more youthful skin and less achy joints among the benefits.
But is the hype deserved or overblown?
Here’s what you need to know about collagen and supplementation.
What does collagen do?
Collagen is a naturally occurring protein in the body. In fact, it is the most abundant form of protein in the body, found everywhere from your ligaments to your blood vessels. Collagen keeps your skin elastic, your joints and muscles strong, and your organs protected.
Your body naturally forms collagen with the building blocks you give it through your food. A protein- and nutrient-rich diet helps your body create collagen, but as you age, your ability to create collagen on your own weakens. This is why your skin may start to sag or show wrinkles, your joints start to feel tight, and your muscles start to wane.
Is collagen good for you?
Collagen is not just good for you, it’s also essential. Without collagen, your skin, joints, and muscles wouldn’t function properly. But are collagen supplements good for you? Well, that depends.
If you’re young and eat a healthy diet full of protein and essential vitamins and minerals, you may not need to take collagen supplements. Everyone starts to lose some level of collagen in their 20s, though, and the rate at which collagen is lost only increases with age. Age may be the biggest culprit of collagen loss, but sun exposure, smoking, excess alcohol, lack of sleep, and exercise also slow collagen production.
Collagen supplements, however, can help support ongoing collagen production, which can lead to various improvements in health. So, yes, collagen supplements can be good for you.
Benefits of Collagen Supplements
Collagen is critical for bodily function and appearance. This is why many people turn to collagen supplements to replace some of what we lose over time. Collagen supplements can benefit you in many ways, including:
- Improving skin hydration, elasticity, roughness, and density
- Reducing wrinkles
- Protecting joints and reducing joint pain
- Strengthening ligaments and tendons
- Helping prevent and treat osteoporosis
In other words, collagen supplementation can be a healthy addition for aging adults.
Side effects of collagen supplements
There aren’t any known side effects of collagen supplements. However, because supplements can come from beef, pork, or marine animals, it’s important to read the label and ensure you aren’t allergic to any of the ingredients. Without an allergy, though, you can consume collagen supplements in recommended amounts without fear of side effects. However, be sure to check with a trusted healthcare professional before beginning any new supplement.
Are collagen supplements safe?
Yes, collagen supplements are safe as long as you aren’t allergic to any of the ingredients. It’s important to note, though, that there are hundreds of collagen supplements on the market, and supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA. For these reasons, it’s critical to thoroughly research any supplements you take. This also means that there’s no guarantee that the supplement you choose will have the promised results.
Other common questions surrounding the safety of collagen products include:
Do collagen supplements interact with medications?
Currently, there is no data on collagen supplements interacting with specific medications. If you are taking any medications, talk to your doctor first before taking any supplements, collagen included.
Can you take collagen while pregnant?
When pregnant, it’s always important to talk to your doctor about supplementation, which ones are safe and which ones are not. This includes collagen. While collagen is a natural protein source and deemed safe for most people, you should still consult with your doctor. If you can’t or don’t want to take collagen supplements while pregnant, you can still get collagen through your diet by eating meat, fish, and poultry.
How much collagen should I take?
There isn’t a set recommendation for the amount of collagen someone should take in a day. Some studies have suggested between 2.5 and 15 grams per day is a fair amount, while other research has found that collagen can account for up to 36% of your daily intake of protein.
Depending on your weight, age, and level of activity, your daily intake of protein could be anywhere from 50 to 150 grams per day. This is based on the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein, which is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day for a sedentary individual. If you’re active, the recommended amount of protein goes up to 1.1-1.5 grams per kilogram of body weight per day.
So, if you consume 100 grams of protein per day, 36 grams of that protein can come from collagen. Of course, if you eat meat, fish, or poultry, you will get some of these grams from those sources.
Some individuals even choose to put collagen supplements in their morning coffee to start the day.
Can you take too much collagen?
As with anything, you can take too much collagen. Collagen is a great source of amino acids that your body needs, but it’s not a complete source. This means, that if you take too much collagen, you can throw off the balance of amino acids in your body, which could lead to side effects such as headaches, digestive issues, and fatigue.
To understand how much collagen you are consuming, look at the number of grams per serving of your collagen supplement. While you may be able to get up to 36% of your protein from collagen, a serving of as little as 5 grams per day is adequate to experience most of the benefits of collagen.
How long does it take for collagen supplements to work?
The results you see from taking collagen will depend on the amount of collagen you’re taking, the nutrition you get from the rest of your diet, and the quality of the supplement. However, it doesn’t “work” overnight.
Most of the studies that have researched the benefits of collagen measure results over the course of months. Generally, you can expect to see the benefits in your skin, joints, and tendons in 3 months. However, some see results in their skin in as little as 1 month, and others don’t notice joint or muscle pain relief for up to 6 months.
How long should I take collagen supplements?
Like all proteins, the formation of collagen in your body is a cyclical process. While taking collagen will support an increase in collagen production, it’s important to continue to consume collagen to continue to see results. Thankfully, collagen is safe for long-term use. So, once you get into the habit of taking collagen, maintain your new routine to continue to experience its benefits.
Questions about collagen?
Hopefully, we answered all your questions about collagen and whether or not supplementation is right for you. If not, let us know in the comments section below and we will be happy to help.