What Is A Collagen Supplement And How Does It Work?

What is a collagen supplement and how does it work

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In this article, we will dive deep to answer what is a collagen supplement and explain how it might benefit you.

This are surprising facts…

On September 30, 2019, the CRN Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements reported the highest usage of dietary supplements in 20 years at a whopping 77%. 

Of the 77% of U.S. adults who consume supplements, 79% are females and 79% are adults 55+ (81% of adults 34-54).

In fact, both women and men over the age of 18 use supplements of some sort.

Obviously, dietary supplements are mainstream in our culture and people consider them to be important to their overall health and wellness.

Let's move on to explain what is a supplement, what is collagen and how a collagen supplement might help with your anti-aging efforts.

What is a dietary supplement?

According to the United States National Institutes of Health (NIH), the accepted definition of a dietary supplement, as defined by Congress, is a product (other than tobacco) that:

  • Is intended to be in addition to the regular diet
  • Contains one or more ingredients such as vitamins, minerals, fiber, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids and other substances
  • Can be taken by mouth as a pill, capsule, tablet or liquid
  • Is clearly labeled on the front of the container or box that says the product is a dietary supplement
woman taking a healthy collagen supplement

In the United States, dietary supplements are regulated by the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as food.

Although, it is a separate category from other foods and from drugs.

Also, supplements can have ingredients that are derived from animals. A perfect example of this is collagen since it is derived primarily from cows/cattle, chicken or fish.

What is the purpose of collagen?

Collagen is often referred to as the ‘glue’ or ‘scaffolding’ that holds and supports every part of your body’s structure (animals also have collagen in their bodies).

In addition, you may hear it referred to as the elusive ‘fountain of youth’.

Collagen is what is known as a triple-helix protein. (Actually, proteins are very important, they are often called the ‘building blocks of life’.)

In other words, we can’t have any life, human or animals, without proteins.

At a high level, collagen is primarily made from three amino acids (glycine, alanine, proline and a modified version of proline, hydroxyproline specifically) and synthesized by vitamin C, zinc and copper. The end result is a protein that is known as collagen.

triple helix collagen protein

It’s best to get collagen and amino acids from natural sources, like healthy and natural foods.

However, you know your diet might not always be ‘perfect’ which doesn’t help your body to make new collagen or protect what you have.

In addition, you may have participated at least a time or two in collagen-killing activities such a less-than-healthy diet, too much sun, stress and smoking.

Collagen is the most abundant protein and shows up in all these areas in your body:

  • Skin (80% of skin contains collagen)
  • Hair
  • Cartilage between joints
  • Tendons
  • Ligaments
  • Bones
  • Muscles
  • Gut lining
  • Arteries
  • Eyes

Collagen is a popular supplement for women (and men) who want to hold off the effects of aging.

Given the recent explosion of different types of collagen supplement products onto the market, people are getting benefits in multiple ways.

Why should I take collagen?

As you approach the end of your 20s, your body doesn’t make as much new collagen.

The effects of less collagen may include wrinkles, sagging skin, leaky gut, weaker bones, smaller muscles, thinning and dull hair, brittle nails, collapsed arteries, cranky gut and even pelvic floor problems.

The other thing is our ancestors used all parts of animals which helped them to enough collagen in their diets. These include bones, joints and skin from the animals. Bone broth is an excellent example.

Today, society tends to shy away from using all parts of the animal and there's an effort to encourage folks to eat less meat in general.

Admittedly, more research is needed to determine if collagen supplements are as beneficial as we think.

However, there are many studies and stories of women who have reaped the benefits they received by adding additional collagen and amino acids through diet or supplements.

How much collagen should I take per day?

According to Dr. Kellyann, a well-known health and wellness expert, a minimum of 5g of collagen per day will help to increase the lycine and proline (amino acids in collagen) in your bloodstream.

She goes on to suggest that if you’re experiencing inflammation (like most people are), a higher dosage like 10-15g daily might be better.

If you suffer from one or more specific conditions, then she suggests going up to 30g daily. These are the situations where more grams might be helpful:

  • Skin, hair and nails could use improvement
  • If you’re an athlete or exercise regularly (especially with weight training)
  • Joint pain is limiting your activities
  • Weight loss is a struggle
  • You experience gut distress or challenges

What are the benefits of collagen for women?

If it’s good enough for the rich and famous, it might be worth looking into, don’t you think?During the 2020 Sundance Film Festival in Park City Utah, it was reported guests were served collagen-infused cocktails.

Since the entertainment business is made up of people who make their living much on how they look, they also know that adding collagen into their diet is a good idea.

Here are some potential benefits of more collagen in your bod:

Other than supplements, there is a lot of excitement in other health areas for the potential of collagen.

As a matter of fact, the medical and research-grade collagen market is on an upward trend, predicting to grow to $883M by 2027.

Other areas that collagen is an exciting development are vascular grafts, tissue tcaffolds, cartilage repair, wound care and bone grafts.

Currently, collagen injections are also used for cosmetic purposes and to help treat urinary incontinence.

How effective are collagen supplements?

There are plenty of stories of women who have benefited from using collagen supplements.

In addition, there are research and scientific studies that point to collagen supplements helping with joint pain and skin health.

Certainly, more research and studies are needed to further support how beneficial collagen supplementation is to the body.

How long does it take for collagen peptides to work?

Like with any nutritional supplement, consistency is key.

The good news though is that once you build up the amino acids in your body, you can back off taking as many supplements and perhaps go on a once a week maintenance mode.

Here are studies that will give you an idea of how long it might take to see improvements:

Skin

In the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, participants noticed a 16% increase in skin hydration after 4 weeks and up to 28% in 8 weeks.

Another study showed women who took a collagen peptide for 8 weeks realized a 20% reduction in wrinkles.

Hair

Nutritional Reports International featured a study where subjects in the study took collagen for 62 days. They found the thickness and strength of the subjects’ hair increased significantly.

Nails

In 2017, a study showed excellent improvement in the nails of 25 participants who took specific collagen peptides once a week for 24 weeks.

Furthermore, researchers saw an increase of 12% in nail growth and 64% saw an improvement in their brittle nails.

Joint pain

An exciting study showed women aged 40-70 saw a 32% decrease in joint pain and a 44% improvement in joint stiffness after taking a daily collagen peptide dose for a period of 6 months.

When is the best time to take collagen?

Overall, there’s not a specific time of the day that is recommended to take collagen.

We would recommend looking at your lifestyle and how your body works to figure out what’s best for you.

For example, some say to take it in the morning (adding it to your morning coffee is a great way to boost your collagen intake for the day) to help keep you feeling full so you eat less.

If you feel too full when taking a collagen supplement in the morning, you may want to take it at night so it enters your body while you sleep.

(Glycine, one of the major amino acids in collagen protein, is also known to help sleep quality and duration.)

Either way, when starting any new supplement, it’s best to start at a low dosage and work your way up to the recommended dosage.

Also, if you’re taking any prescription medications, you’ll want to consult with your healthcare provider before starting something new.

Know this before buying a collagen supplement

With anything you’re taking into your body, you’ll want it to be as pure and clean as possible. That’s no different with a collagen supplement (or bone broth).

We recommend to always look at a supplement’s label to better understand the ingredients.

For collagen supplements, you’ll want to look for these:

  • Sourcing:'Grass-fed', 'pasture-raised' and 'wild-caught' are the descriptions you want to see.
  • Sugar/Carbs: If your lifestyle includes low carb foods, then you'll definitely want to pay attention to this. Some brands also add in artificial sweeteners.
  • Color: If you choose collagen powder, it should be clear and odorless when mixed with water.
  • Third-party testing: A nice feature for a vote of confidence on the quality.

If you want to choose the purest and healthiest collagen supplement on the market today, check out this in-depth review.

What is the best collagen supplement?

Since collagen has become more and more popular, new products have entered the market.

Today, you can add collagen to your daily routine through superfoods, powder, capsules and liquids.

Evaluating collagen supplement products on the market can be overwhelming and time-consuming. So, we’ve done the work for you in this helpful article.

FAQ

What is the best way to take collagen?

Do I have to take collagen on an empty stomach?

What are the side effects of collagen supplements?

FINAL THOUGHTS

Collagen supplements are a way to add proteins, and amino acids that make proteins, to your body. What is a collagen supplement though and how does it work?

A collagen supplements helps to maintain or replace the collagen your aging body is not able to produce. Whether because of a natural aging process, collagen-killing activities or after menopause, the effects of less collagen are clearly visible and felt.

You can see the effects of less collagen in your body in areas like your skin, bones, muscles, gut, hair and nails.

Obviously, a collagen supplement isn’t going to turn back the hands of time when you were 20 years old!

However, adding a collagen supplement each day may hold back those effects of aging, help you look younger and maintain your vitality for a longer period of time.