What Does Collagen Do?
As part of our commitment to nutritional education, along with the release of our new hydrolyzed collagen powder we want to examine the overall health and appearance benefits of supplementation. Collagen has become a popular supplement with people are adding it to their coffee, sipping bone broth, popping supplemental pills, and applying lotions to their skin. So, exactly what is collagen good for? What does collagen do that has allowed it to become so popular?
Collagen and Skin
One of the most well-known uses of collagen is wrinkle prevention and reduction. Many people seek the proverbial fountain of youth as they get older, and collagen can help skin to stay firm, hydrated, and smooth. One 2014 study concluded that eight weeks of collagen peptide supplementation in women age 45 to 65 led to an average of 20 percent fewer wrinkles, while another found that supplementation minimized wrinkles significantly within eight weeks. A 2009 placebo-controlled study of women age 40 to 54 found that a daily 10-gram collagen peptide beverage increased the water content of the stratum corneum (a deeper skin layer) in 81 percent of participants.
If you’re still young and just hoping to look better in your own skin, collagen may also help in tightening the skin and reducing the appearance of stretch marks and cellulite. In 2015, one study concluded that collagen supplementation provided a significant improvement in skin texture and the appearance of cellulite. A 2014 study among women age 35 to 55 found that a collagen supplement improved skin elasticity in just four weeks. As an additional bonus, collagen is good for reducing inflammation and works as an antioxidant, fighting free radicals that cause skin aging.
Collagen is also key in the skin healing process, signaling fibroblast cells to rebuild damaged areas. Collagen dressings and powders are often used to expedite healing in hospitalized patients with chronic wounds, burns, and pressure ulcers. Collagen-based membranes and barriers may be used in dental work and oral surgery to promote regrowth and accelerate healing.
Collagen and Hair
Everyone wants strong, shiny hair, and collagen can help you attain it. As we age, collagen levels decrease in our hair, which can lead to hair loss, brittleness, and even baldness. A Japanese study in 2016 determined that baldness often occurs in older people due to the conversion of hair follicles to skin cells which follows scalp stem cell damage from age-related collagen depletion. Supplemental collagen can reverse this trend, allowing for production of keratin and other proteins.
Collagen also plays a role in maintaining the hydration of hair follicles, which allows hair to grow stronger, healthier, and better moisturized. Collagen also appears to play a role in the regulation of testosterone and estrogen, hormones largely responsible for hair loss. Additionally, one clinical trial found that daily collagen supplementation for 62 days increased hair thickness and strength significantly, especially in women.
Collagen and Nails
Perhaps the most exciting development related to collagen supplementation is its potential for improving dry, brittle nails. One clinical trial found that 80 percent of participants reported improvement in nail strength and health, while another concluded that 86 percent of subjects saw improvement in brittle nails. In 2017, another study researched the use of collagen peptides specifically based on nail growth rate and the frequency of chipped or cracked nails. After 24 weeks of collagen supplementation, an increase of 12 percent in nail growth rate and 42 percent decrease in broken nails were reported.
Collagen and Joint Health
Another major benefit of collagen is reduction of joint pain, especially in individuals with arthritis. A 2006 review confirmed that collagen supplements may improve joint function and relieve pain in people with arthritis, as a result of cartilaginous collagen accumulation and rebuilding. A 2009 study found that 90 days of collagen supplementation provided a 40 percent decrease in osteoarthritis symptoms and 33 percent drop in symptom severity. Yet another study concluded that collagen supplementation may decrease the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, and even potentially allow for disease remission.