If you follow different health accounts on social media you have probably seen a lot of people using collagen powder in their meals, most commonly added to smoothies or coffee beverages. Today I will be breaking down what collagen is and whether or not the research backs its consumption.
What is Collagen?
Collagen is an animal protein
It comprises majority (30%) of the total protein in animals and humans
Collagen is mainly found in bone, connective tissue and skin
Collagen promotes skin elasticity (as we age we naturally produce less collagen, which often leads to dry skin and fine lines)
A byproduct of Collagen is gelatin (when heated)- which is commonly used as a thickener/stabilizer
Collagen is used in a variety of industries such as cosmetics, food and medicine
What is it beneficial for?
Helps hold bones and muscles in place
Promotes wound healing
Promotes skin elasticity- may help with the aging process, prevent cellulite etc.
Provides structure to joints- may ease joint pain and arthritis in older adults
May improve digestive health- by helping strengthen the lining of your digestive tract
Helps promote speeder bone repair (e.g., in the case of a fracture)
Aids in post-exercise recovery (some research suggesting collagen can play a role in the synthesis of muscle proteins)
Does the research support these benefits?
Yes, it actually does! Although more research is needed (the case for most nutrition research) there are studies showing associations between improved skin elasticity and relieved joint pain with collagen supplementation.
When it comes to your skin, several studies have found associations with taking a collagen supplement and 1) improved skin hydration, 2) improved elasticity (which helps reduce fine lines). One study looked at 69 women between 33-55 years of age, one group received 2.5 or 5 grams of collagen and the other group received a placebo once daily for 8 weeks. Those receiving the collagen versus the placebo showed statistically significant improvement in skin elasticity versus those taking nothing at just 4 weeks (Proksh et al., 2014).
Bottom line: although more research is needed there are studies supporting improved skin elasticity and hydration with collagen supplementation.
When it comes to joint pain there have been several studies that found collagen supportive in reducing joint related pain issues. Collagen plays an important role in maintaining the health of your cartilage, which works to help protect your joints.
One study specifically focused on athletes found that a collagen hydrolysate supplementation for 24 weeks showed improvements in athletes joint pain and reduced risk of joint deterioration (Clark et al., 2018).
In addition, another study (among others with similar results) found that collagen hydrolysate played a therapeutic role in osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. Specifically it had a protective effect on articular cartilage and providing pain relief (Bras et al., 2016). There is no consensus on the exact dosage, however supplementation with 8 grams demonstrated increases in glycine and proline concentration in plasma. Research has also found that doses of 12 grams promoted symptom improvement in those with osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. However, further research is needed to better understand dosage and to determine therapeutic potential (Bras et al., 2016).
Bottom line: some research has suggested that collagen supplementation has the ability to reduce inflammation and joint pain
How to incorporate collagen in the diet?
Bone Broths: Making your own homemade chicken stock, Pho broth, stew, etc. will extract the collagen from the bones of the animal and drinking the broth will provide collagen to your body naturally. Click here to get a nutritious and delicious slow cooked bone broth recipe.
I also shared a blog post with my nonna/mom's brodo aka bone broth recipe a while back, click here to read that blog and get the recipe.
Eggs: Egg whites contain amino acids proline and glycine, which make up collagen protein.
Vitamin C: While vitamin C rich foods such as kiwi, citrus, broccoli, leafy greens, etc are not high in collagen, vitamin C is essential for collagen production in the body and therefore eating vitamin C rich foods assist in collagen synthesis.
Collagen Powder: Look for hydrolyzed collagen or collagen hydrolysate as these have been broken down into smaller peptides, which will be more readily absorbed and digested. Add to smoothies, baked goods, hot beverages, etc. Click here for a chocolate collagen smoothie recipe, that's also loaded with veggies!
Bottom line: it seems like collagen may play an important role in supporting joint and skin health with little risk. It has the potential to improve skin elasticity, hydration, and reduce fine lines. In addition, it can potentially help reduce bone loss, increase muscle mass and decrease joint pain.
Do you need a supplement? Not necessarily, but having a powder form handy might make it easier to implement into your diet. If you need more tips or have questions, please feel free to connect!
Cheers to happy and healthy eating!
Until next time,
Eat Right Feel Right - Angela and Victoria XO
Clark et al. (2008). 24-Week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18416885
Proksch et al. (2014). Oral Supplementation of Specific Collagen Peptides Has Beneficial Effects on Human Skin Physiology: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Retrieved from: https://www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/351376
Borumand and Sibilla (2014). Daily consumption of the collagen supplement Pure Gold Collagen® reduces visible signs of aging. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4206255/
Porfirio and Fanaro (2016). Collagen supplementation as a complementary therapy for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis: a systematic review. Retrieved from: http://www.scielo.br/pdf/rbgg/v19n1/1809-9823-rbgg-19-01-00153.pdf