It’s more than likely you’ve seen collagen pop up on store shelves and in magazine articles, but why is collagen making such huge waves in the wellness world? Already a well-loved supplement for the beauty industry and yet the health benefits of collagen reach far beyond its skin boosting abilities. Here's everything you need to know, plus our round-up of the top benefits of collagen.
What is collagen?Collagen essentially equals strength, stability and suppleness. It’s the most plentiful protein in the body and is a vital component of our skin and connective tissue – the most widely distributed tissues in the body. It’s helpful to actually think of it as the ‘glue’ that holds your body together. Much like structural scaffolding, collagen keeps everything strong, healthy and vital.
Why might we need to supplement?
When we reach our twenties, unfortunately collagen production starts to gradually decline. As we move past roughly 35-40 years old, it is thought that collagen depletes faster than our body can produce it. Whilst this is happening, we might notice changes in our body, like a downturn in our skin’s elasticity or more wrinkles and creases. You might also experience brittle nails, your hair may begin to become dry and thin or you feel like you’re unable to bounce back from injury like you once did.
Our ancestors also ate a lot more collagen than we typically do in the western world today. This is significant because on top of our natural decline in collagen production, our standard diets don’t usually prioritise organ meats or skin-on, bone-in meats, which means we don’t get enough of the collagen specific amino acids through our diet alone that we need to rebuild and renew collagen naturally.
Top Benefits of Collagen
Collagen may help smooth wrinkles and boost elasticity in skin
Collagen’s role in skincare is essential both from a cosmetic and functional perspective - meaning it helps us to look great but also protects our body from the outside environment. A good analogy is to think of your dermis (inner layer) of the skin like a mattress. The cross filaments of collagen act like the springs, maintaining the frame and shape, keeping the mattress looking plump and your skin feeling youthful.
Skin health is one the most well-researched benefits of taking collagen. Results from studies indicate supplementation of collagen improves skin elasticity, helps it to better hold onto moisture, and encourages new collagen formation.
Many people don’t realise that adding collagen to your diet may also help in reducing the appearance of cellulite and stretch marks. By improving the structure, moisture and elasticity of your skin it also smooths in appearance.
Collagen promotes bone health and longevity
Our bone health is incredibly important to our quality of life, however bone mineral density decreases as you age, especially for women after menopause. Studies show that collagen may be effective in treating both osteoporosis and osteoarthritis, both of which can be caused by deterioration of collagen and bone mass. Two of collagen’s major amino acids, glycine and proline, are likely responsible for their anti-inflammatory effects over joint pain.
Collagen may lessen joint pain
When joint pain affects your ability to exercise or simply enjoy day-to-day movement, it can really make a huge difference to your wellbeing. There is some evidence that collagen can be great for supporting connective tissues and improving joint pain after exercise. Research has suggested that a combination of training and collagen supplementation can strengthen and improve muscle-joint interaction, which is ideal for athletes or active people looking to prevent injury. For those in recovery, collagen may also play a role in repair. Studies have reported a reduction in knee pain in athletes who have supplemented with collagen.
Collagen may help you sleep more soundly
We all know how a bad night’s sleep can affect our health and mood - we are less likely to make healthy choices with our food, less likely to want to move our bodies, in fact, sleep completely impacts how well we can meet our health goals. Collagen may well be a potent mood relaxer and sleep promoter. Small studies are showing that just three grams of glycine (found in one collagen serving) taken before bed may improve the quality of your sleep. More studies are needed for the full effects on our mood health, but so far results are promising.
Collagen is a great source of digestible protein
Protein is essential to life - although we often think of it as key for muscle growth or ‘gains,’ protein or amino acids do so much more! Important in everything from our neurotransmitters in our brain to enzymes, which facilitate chemical reactions and digestion, to antibodies in our immune system - getting our daily requirement is absolutely vital.
Collagen is a great adjunct to any diet that contains a variety of protein sources. Because your body has to work hard to digest protein from sources like meat, it can cause some digestive symptoms like burping or stomach pain after a meal for some people. Fortunately, collagen supplements are hydrolysed, meaning the protein is broken down, a process that makes it easier for your body to digest in just minutes after consumption. This hydrolysing process also means that collagen peptides dissolve completely in liquids, which makes it incredibly simple to use in drinks. Favourites include adding a scoop of collagen to your coffee, juice or smoothies or using our blends which already have collagen added in them.