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Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body.

It is the major component of connective tissues that make up several body parts, including tendons, ligaments, skin and muscles.

Collagen has many important functions, including providing your skin with structure and strengthening your bones.

In recent years, collagen supplements have become popular. Most are hydrolyzed, which means the collagen has been broken down, making it easier for you to absorb.

There are also several foods you can eat to increase your collagen intake, including pork skin and bone broth.

Consuming collagen may have a variety of health benefits, from relieving joint pain to improving skin health.

This article will discuss six science-backed health benefits of taking collagen.

1. Can Improve Skin Health

Collagen is a major component of your skin.

It plays a role in strengthening skin, plus may benefit elasticity and hydration. As you age, your body produces less collagen, leading to dry skin and the formation of wrinkles.

However, several studies have shown that collegen peptides or supplements containing collagen may help slow the aging of your skin by reducing wrinkles and dryness.

In one study, women who took a supplement containing 2.5–5 grams of collagen for eight weeks experienced less skin dryness and a significant increase in skin elasticity compared to those who did not take the supplement.

Additionally, taking collagen supplements may promote the production of other proteins that help structure your skin, including elastin and fibrillin.

There are also many anecdotal claims that collagen supplements are helpful for preventing acne and other skin conditions, but these are not supported by scientific evidence.

2. Helps Relieve Joint Pain

Collagen helps maintain the integrity of your cartilage, which is the rubber-like tissue that protects your joints.

As the amount of collagen in your body decreases as you get older, your risk of developing degenerative joint disorders such as osteoarthritis increases.

Some studies have shown that taking collagen supplements may help improve symptoms of osteoarthritis and reduce joint pain overall.

Researchers have theorized that supplemental collagen may accumulate in cartilage and stimulate your tissues to make collagen.

They have suggested this may lead to lower inflammation, better support of your joints and reduced pain.

If you want to try taking a collagen supplement for its potential pain-relieving effects, studies suggest you should start with a dosage of 8–12 grams daily.

3. Could Prevent Bone Loss

Your bones are made mostly of collagen, which gives them structure and helps.

As collagen in your body deteriorates as you age, bone mass does too. This may lead to conditions such as osteoporosis, which is characterized by low bone density and linked with a higher risk of bone fractures.

Studies have shown that taking collagen supplements may have certain effects in the body that help inhibit the bone breakdown that leads to osteoporosis.

In one study, women took either a calcium supplement combined with 5 grams of collagen or a calcium supplement and no collagen daily for 12 months.

By the end of the study, the women taking the calcium and collagen supplement had significantly lower blood levels of proteins that promote bone breakdown than those taking only the calcium.

Another study found similar results in 66 women who took 5 grams of collagen daily for 12 months.

The women who took the collagen had an increase of up to 7% in their bone mineral density (BMD), compared to women who did not consume collagen.

BMD is a measure of the amount of minerals, such as calcium, in your bones. Low BMD is associated with weak bones and the development of osteoporosis.

These results are promising, but more human studies are needed before the role of collagen supplements in bone health can be confirmed.

4. Could Boost Muscle Mass

Between 1–10% of muscle tissue is composed of collagen. This protein is necessary to keep your muscles strong and functioning properly.

Studies suggest that collagen supplements help boost muscle mass in people with sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass that happens with age.

Researchers have suggested that taking collagen may promote the synthesis of muscle proteins such as creatine, and may also stimulate muscle growth after exercise.

More research is necessary to investigate collagen’s potential to boost muscle mass.

5. Other Health Benefits

Collagen supplements may have other health benefits, but these have not been studied extensively.

  • Hair and nails: Taking collagen may increase the strength of your nails by preventing brittleness. Additionally, it may stimulate your hair and nails to grow longer.
  • Gut health: Although there is no scientific evidence to support this claim, some health practitioners promote the use of collagen supplements to treat intestinal permeability, or leaky gut syndrome.
  • Brain health: No studies have examined the role of collagen supplements in brain health. However, some people claim they improve mood and reduce symptoms of anxiety.
  • Weight loss: Some believe that taking collagen supplements may promote weight loss and a faster metabolism. There have not been any studies to support these claims.

Although these potential effects are promising, research is needed before formal conclusions can be made.

6. Foods That Contain Collagen

Collagen is found in the connective tissues of animals. Thus, foods such as chicken skin, pork skin, beef and fish are sources of collagen.

Foods that contain gelatin, such as bone broth, also provide collagen. Gelatin is a protein substance derived from collagen after it has been cooked..

More research is needed to determine if eating collagen-rich foods actually helps increase collagen in your body. There have not been any human studies on whether collagen-rich foods have the same benefits as supplements.

Collagen in food is broken down into individual amino acids and peptides by digestive enzymes.

The collagen in supplements has already been broken down, or hydrolyzed, which is why it is thought to be absorbed more efficiently than the collagen in foods.

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