Do Collagen Supplements Work?

One of the latest phenomena in the health sector is collagen supplements, and people across the globe are left wondering whether the benefits of collagen supplements actually exist. Collagen is the predominant protein in the human body, and can be found in connective tissues, ligaments, tendons, and skin. 

There are 28 known types of collagen; however, the most prominent in the human body are types I, II, and III, which accounts for around 80-90% of the body’s total collagen. Types I and III are predominantly found in bones and skin, while type II is typically found in the joints. Therefore, your body produces collagen naturally, but people are wondering whether supplements in pharma packaging have a positive effect on their bodies. Discover more below. 

Types of Collagen Supplements

Typically speaking, collagen supplements come from animals like fish, cows, and pigs, meaning that they aren’t suitable for vegans. The composition of each supplement will vary; however, they usually contain types I, II, III, or a combination of the three. 

The main types of collagen supplements include:

  • Raw – which refers to the collagen protein being intact
  • Gelatin – in which the collagen is slightly broken down into amino acids
  • Hydrolyzed collagen – whereby the collagen is completely broken down into amino acids

Of the above supplement types, studies have shown that the body more readily absorbs hydrolyzed collagen than any other form. Despite this, every type of collagen supplement will be broken down into amino acids during digestion, which enables the absorption of such. 

Skin 

Though the studies of collagen supplements are limited, there is some evidence to suggest that they minimize wrinkles. This is because collagens I and III provide your skin with structure and strength; however, the amount of collagen in your skin is said to decrease by 1% every year. Therefore, it’s thought that supplements can boost these collagen levels, resulting in improved skin hydration and elasticity, and reduced wrinkles. Though these studies have shown collagen supplements to be effective, it’s worth noting that they’re funded by collagen manufacturers. Consequently, there’s likely to be a small amount of bias in the results. 

Joints

Collagen II can be found in the protective cushioning between joints, otherwise known as cartilage. There’s a common condition known as osteoarthritis (OA), which is where cartilage wears away and causes reduced function, pain, stiffness, and inflammation in the joints. As a result, studies have demonstrated that collagen supplements can relieve joint pain caused by this condition. 

Bone Health

Since bone is made predominantly of collagen I, we have reason to believe that collagen supplements can aid bone heath. Despite this, more human studies need to be carried out in relation to this before we can confirm these assumptions. 

Building Muscle

Collagen is a protein source, which is why the intake of supplements is likely to contribute to muscle growth when paired with resistance training. Certain studies have shown that collagen supplements may be more effective in building muscle than no protein at all; however, it can’t be said whether collagen is better suited to muscle building than other sources of protein.

Conclusion

Ultimately, it’s very difficult to say with certainty whether collagen supplements work. As a concept, they’re still extremely new, so further studies must be carried out to determine whether they’re effective. Though collagen supplements certainly won’t harm you (unless you have an allergy or intolerance to any of the ingredients), you run the risk of wasting your money on something useless. It’s down to you to weigh up your options. 

Do you take collagen? Have you found it to be effective in any of the above areas?

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