Living a long and healthy life is the number one goal of health and fitness. It’s a wonderful journey that helps fortify your spirit, create lifelong friendships, and helps foster an internal strength that can elevate all aspects of your life. Conversely, the journey of a thousand steps can really cause some wear and tear over the years. These aches and pains are partially due to the loss of collagen in our bodies.
WHAT IS COLLAGEN?
Collagen makes up about a quarter of the protein in your body. Collagen provides the building materials for the structural components of our bodies including skin, nails, bone, tendons, and cartilage. As with bridges and roads, your bones, skin, muscles, tendons, and connective tissues need to be regularly replaced and repaired to support continued use. Otherwise, you’ll end up with proverbial pot holes and a really painful commute. Unfortunately, our ability to synthesize and organize collagen in our bodies decreases with age. 1 Now, you may think this is a problem that 60 year old “you” will have to face. Surprisingly, our collagen synthesis actually starts declining by the time we are 25 years old! 2
WHAT ARE THE PRIMARY BENEFITS OF COLLAGEN?
SKIN HEALTH AND WRINKLE REDUCTION
Collagen is made up of three fibrils that wind together like a rope to create a strong extracellular scaffold for your body. These strong and flexible ropes are incredibly strong and help provide a youthful appearance to your skin. Unfortunately, our ability to synthesize collagen decreases. This results in a collapse of some of the collagen structure and thus, we experience thinner, drier, and more wrinkly skin. 3
Collagen supplementation can help step up and promote collagen synthesis, delaying and even restoring our skin’s natural elasticity. One study showed that 8 weeks of collagen supplementation significantly improved skin elasticity, hydration, and reduced skin roughness. The researchers believe this is due to the supplemental collagen helping retain skin moisture, improving anti-oxidative properties in the skin, and helping to restore the skin’s collagen. 4 If you’re looking to restore your skin, reduce wrinkles, and overall feel better, collagen is a no brainer.
JOINT HEALTH AND PAIN REDUCTION
It’s not only your face that feels the loss of collagen. Two-thirds of the mass of the cartilage in your joints is made up of cartilage! 5 Collagen helps keep your bones, ligaments, and joints strong and flexible so when you start to lose cartilage...you start to notice pretty quickly. 2
Collagen supplementation can help reduce that joint pain and prevent joint deterioration. We aren’t just talking about helping manage hip pain on the way to the early bird special here. Supplementing collagen has been shown to help even highly active athletes with no history of joint disease. One study performed on 97 college athletes showed that athletes who received supplemental collagen reported less pain while at rest, walking, carrying objects, and lifting! 6 So whether you’ve just killed leg day at the gym or just slept weird, you’re going to want to add some collagen into your supplement protocol.
WHICH TYPE SHOULD I TAKE?
There are 28 different types of collagen that exist in your body. Collagen supplements contain the most useful forms of those collagens for maximal effect. One of the most popular collagen supplement sources is Bovine Collagen. Bovine Collagen supplements mostly contain Collagen Types I and III.
COLLAGEN TYPE I- This comprises 80% of the collagen in your skin and is the most prominent form of collagen in the body. You can use this to support healthy hair, nails, and skin.
COLLAGEN TYPE III- This makes up about 10% of the collagen in your body. It helps provide support and structure to your organs and arteries. This can be used with Type I collagen to further support healthy skin.
Using Type I and III collagen together can significantly boost your skin’s health and thus, decrease wrinkles and increase your skin's elasticity. Bovine collagen can also provide amino acids that strengthen and maintain healthy bones and joints.
Researchers recommend taking as little as 2.5 grams per day for skin and health. However, if you are looking to also improve your joint health, you will want to consume between 10 and 15 grams per day. Regardless of the intake, make sure to choose only hydrolyzed collagen sources. These sources are already broken down into the peptide subunits that our body uses, making them easier to digest.
- Farage MA, Miller KW, Elsner P, Maibach HI. Characteristics of the Aging Skin. Adv Wound Care (New Rochelle). 2013;2(1):5-10. doi:10.1089/wound.2011.0356
- Effects of ageing on joints. Physiopedia. (n.d.). Retrieved November 16, 2021, from https://www.physio-pedia.com/Effects_of_Ageing_on_Joints.
- Bolke L, Schlippe G, Gerß J, Voss W. A Collagen Supplement Improves Skin Hydration, Elasticity, Roughness, and Density: Results of a Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Blind Study. Nutrients. 2019;11(10):2494. Published 2019 Oct 17. doi:10.3390/nu11102494
- Sugihara, Fumihito & Inoue, N. & Wang, X.. (2015). Clinical effects of ingesting collagen hydrolysate on facial skin properties: -A randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial-. Japanese Pharmacology and Therapeutics. 43. 67-70.
- Eyre, D. Articular cartilage and changes in Arthritis: Collagen of articular cartilage. Arthritis Res Ther 4, 30 (2001). https://doi.org/10.1186/ar380
- 6. Clark KL, Sebastianelli W, Flechsenhar KR, Aukermann DF, Meza F, Millard RL, Deitch JR, Sherbondy PS, Albert A. 24-Week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain. Curr Med Res Opin. 2008 May;24(5):1485-96. doi: 10.1185/030079908x291967. Epub 2008 Apr 15. PMID: 18416885.