Collagen is without a doubt one of the buzziest ingredients in the wellness world right now. Some swear by its beauty benefits: the power to smooth skin, strengthen nails, and give hair a lasting shine. Others are into it for the gut-health perks. And for many of us looking for the most natural way to look healthy and vibrant, supplementing with collagen is definitely intriguing.
In case you’re curious about adding collagen supplements to your daily life, we have some of the basic things you need to know about this wonder product.
What are collagen supplements?
Collagen is a family of proteins that are actually the most abundant proteins in the animal kingdom. Collagen is made by our body throughout our lifetime, with the purpose of helping tissues be more elastic and withstand stretching (aka it keeps skin looking young and supple). It also decreases with age, and your natural levels can be depleted from environmental factors, such as sun damage and high-sugar diets.
What are the benefits of taking collagen for our skin?
There are plenty of claims about how collagen supplements can benefit the skin. And increasingly the research is catching up to support these claims—and not always in the ways you might think:
It supports your skin’s natural collagen and elastin production
The two main layers that make up the skin are the epidermis and the dermis. The dermis contains fibroblasts, which are cells that produce elastin and collagen. For the skin to function normally and appear youthful, the structure of the dermal layer must be maintained, but as we age the structure suffers because aged fibroblasts produce less collagen. This results in visible signs of aging, which are usually most prominent on the face.
Our body produces collagen throughout our lifetime, but its production slows down as we age, which is why research suggests that collagen supplementation will be of good aid! It can halt skin wrinkling, providing the skin one of its basic ingredients to stay firm and taut. Rather than the collagen peptides traveling through the gut lining and reaching the skin, supplements help support your body’s natural production of collagen and other molecules that make up the skin.
Supports skin hydration and lowers signs of aging.
A few studies have been done on collagen supplementation and skin hydration, showing that with regular use, it supports skin’s hydration levels. This helps slow the appearance of the aging process. Collagen can also support skin elasticity and potentially make fine lines appear smaller.
What are the benefits for hair and nails?
It provides essential ingredients for hair
Hair is mainly made up of the protein keratin and structural lipids. For the body to build keratin, it needs several types of amino acids, many of which are part of collagen peptides. In fact, the main amino acid in keratin is proline, which is found in collagen peptides as well. The theory follows that if you ingest these amino acids, they can help support your natural levels of these essential ingredients.
It may help with oxidative stress
Oxidative stress is one of the main contributors to hair aging. And recent studies have even shown that free radical damage—namely, from air pollution—can contribute to hair loss. Certain collagen supplements may act as an antioxidant and help neutralize free radicals from oxidative stress and overall inflammation. However, much more research is needed in this area.
It may support scalp health
Your scalp, we often forget, is simply your skin, just with more hair follicles. And thus what is beneficial to your skin, is beneficial to your scalp. Research has shown time and time again that a damaged scalp leads to hair issues, like thinning and loss.
It supports nail health, reducing brittleness
Along the same lines of skin and hair health, one study found that when patients took collagen daily for 24 weeks, their nail health improved, including better growth rates, reduced breakage, and improved appearance.
What are the full-body benefits?
Collagen also has the ability to improve bone health and stabilize the micro-biome—promoting a healthy gut.
Supports gut and digestion health
One of the reasons collagen supplements have become so popular is the purported benefits toward supporting gut health. Research has found that one of the main amino acids in collagen, L-glutamate, supports the intestine by neutralizing oxidative stress. Additional research shows that collagen supplements may help those with digestion conditions support gut health.
Manages joint health
And while reduced joint pain may seem like a strange benefit, remember that collagen is found in connective tissue all over the body, not just in the skin. A recent study showed that when athletes who previously suffered joint injuries regularly took collagen, their overall joint health was supported.
Have you tried taking collagen supplements? What benefits did you get from it? Share them with us in the comment section below!