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When you think about collagen, your first thought might well be skin related. And it’s true that collagen supplements are most often praised for their anti-aging and beauty benefits. But as it turns out, collagen supplements have more to offer than just healthy skin aging, hair growth, and strong nails. Whilst often forgotten, one of the huge benefits of collagen is its physiological benefits. Collagen peptides are also hugely beneficial for joint health, support and comfort. 

What is collagen?

Collagen is, according to Medical News Today, the most abundant protein in the human body. Found in the bones, muscles, skin, and tendons, collagen forms the ‘scaffolding’ that provides strength and structure in the body. As a vital component of connective tissue, it plays a crucial role in holding the cells in the body together. Collagen is also perhaps best known for its ability to provide strength and elasticity to the skin. 

Most people tend to opt for collagen supplements as they get older in order to aid the skin in maintaining elasticity. This is what gives the skin its youthful, wrinkle-free appearance. The collagen that we take in supplement form is called Endogenous collagen. This type of collagen is ‘natural collagen’ that the body is able to easily synthesize. It comes from an outside source such as supplements. 

Endogenous collagen is vital for the body and the breakdown and/or depletion of this type of collagen are linked to serious health conditions including scurvy. Though it is undoubtedly most commonly used for cosmetic purposes, endogenous collagen has a variety of other uses. Doctors also use it in certain wound-healing techniques. Of course, it is also hugely beneficial for the body and can support overall health including joint health. 

A miracle molecule

Collagen is a tough, fibrous, insoluble molecule that is mainly protein based. It plays a major role in many essential structures in the human body. These include skin, tendons, blood vessels, cartilage, bones, and all connective tissue. It is well known that healthy levels of collagen are vital when it comes to promoting and maintaining joint and organ health, skin elasticity, and a healthy cardiovascular system. 

In short, collagen is vital for the human body and allows it to function properly. Within the human body, collagen is generally plentiful. Some research indicates that it makes up a third of the protein in the human body. A massive three-quarter of the dry weight is made up purely of collagen. 

What causes a decrease in collagen?

What tends to happen as we age is that our collagen levels drop quite substantially. This is what leads to wrinkles as the skin loses elasticity. Importantly, this depletion of collagen can cause much bigger issues. Because so much of our body relies on collagen to maintain its health, when levels drop, it can lead to sore, weakened joints, bones, and cartilage. Natural levels of collagen can also be negatively affected by environmental factors and external stressors. This includes sun damage, a diet high in sugar, and even chronic stress can have an impact. 

super strength collagenHow does collagen support joint health?

Collagen, though touted widely for its anti-aging properties, is a vital structural component of the joints in the human body. As a result, supporting your natural collagen levels tends to have a positive impact on how comfortable and movable your joints feel. In fact, a randomized clinical trial found that participants that took a collagen supplement for 180 days “experienced support of their physical function and improved joint stiffness”. 

An analysis of five different clinical studies found that, although collagen supplements were beneficial in supporting and reducing joint stiffness, they didn’t necessarily improve their comfort level or physical ability. Despite that, all the evidence points towards collagen supplements being a worthwhile investment. 

How long will it take to work?

A good collagen supplement can be of huge benefit, especially if you do struggle with stiffness and discomfort in the joints. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to give a specific time frame for when you’ll begin to feel or see the effects of the collagen supplement. This is mostly down to the fact that different collagen supplements come with different health benefits. Thus, the timeframes will inevitably vary. In general, you’ll likely begin to notice results as far as your joint health in around 4 to 6 weeks. 

Understanding collagen supplements

The world of supplements can be difficult to understand. Obviously, all supplements are not created equal. Here’s what you should look for when you choose a collagen supplement and how much you should take

Obviously, the dosage will vary depending on the supplement. In general, the recommended dosage is about 10 to 20g of collagen per serving. The powder is the best way to take collagen as it is delivered into the body much more effectively. When you look at the packaging, it’s generally best to look for words like “grass-fed, pasture-raised bovine collagen” or “sustainably, wild-caught cod”. You want to know where it has been sourced from. This includes things like what animal it comes from and where it comes from region-wise. 

The other thing to look for is a pure or clean formula. You want to avoid any excess or unnecessary ingredients that don’t actually provide any health benefits. Artificial coloring, sweeteners, flavoring, preservatives, gluten, GMOs, soy, and any fillers are all to be avoided. If you do want flavored collagen powder, look for organic and natural sweeteners and flavorings. 

The Takeaway

Collagen is hugely beneficial for the overall health of the body and there is no doubt that as we age, our levels of collagen decrease. If you are struggling with joint pain or just want to support your joint (and body) health, a collagen supplement is likely a great investment. In the end, it’s more than just a cosmetic supplement. Having sufficient collagen in your body will support everything from your organs to your skin.

As with many things, prevention is better than cure, and you will get a range of benefits from a collagen supplement. However, it is always a good idea to speak to your doctor before you begin taking any supplements. Even if it’s just to get advice on which one you should opt for. 

References

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/262881

https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/collagen-can-help-support-joint-comfortheres-why

https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/guide-to-collagen-supplements

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29144022/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18416885/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7149899/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6835901/

https://www.versusarthritis.org/about-arthritis/complementary-and-alternative-treatments/types-of-complementary-treatments/collagen/

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Katie Hart

Katie Hart is a successful health, beauty and fashion blogger with a BA in Fashion Media at LISOF. Her hobbies include styling, reading, true crime podcasts and singing. She is a lover of all things fashion and beauty, but is happiest when sitting with her mini Maltese, Aria.

The content in this editorial is for general information only and is not intended to provide medical or other professional advice. For more information on your medical condition and treatment options, speak to your healthcare professional.

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