Looking to improve your skin health? Or maybe you’re hoping to bulk up your muscle mass. Either way, adding a collagen supplement to your routine may be the answer you’re looking for to achieve those goals.
Related read: 8 Ways Eating Balanced Diet Can Help You Heal
What is Collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body, and it has become a popular nutritional supplement. Think of it as “glue” that holds things together such as skin, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. You can also find collagen in other body parts like bones, blood vessels, and corneas.
Our body naturally makes collagen by breaking down dietary protein into amino acids. Keeping a balanced diet with foods rich in protein such as chicken, eggs, beef, legumes, nuts, and whole grains can help to get the specific building blocks you need for collagen.
Regardless, as we age our collagen production decreases but it can be even further inhibited by smoking and poor diet.
Benefits of Collagen
Collagen has many different functions, therefore the benefits it brings can widely vary. Here are a few improvements a collagen supplement could bring.
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1. Skin health
Collagen content per unit area of the skin is known to decrease by about 1% each year according to a 2012 article. Therefore, the older you get the less collagen you produce and that leads to dry skin and the formation of wrinkles. Taking a collagen supplement can help to keep your skin strong by improving elasticity and hydration.
A 2014 study researched how 2.5 to 5 grams of collagen supplementation affected women who took it for 8 weeks. The results showed that the women taking the collagen supplementation experienced less skin dryness and a big increase in skin elasticity compared to those who did not take the supplement.
2. Joint pain
Your cartilage, which is rubber-like tissue that protects your joints, is benefitted by collagen. As we already know, collagen decreases as we age and that can lead to degenerative joint disorders such as osteoarthritis. Studies have shown that collagen supplementation can improve symptoms of osteoarthritis and reduce joint pain.
One study published in 2012 found that adults who took 2 grams of collagen daily for 70 days had a significant reduction in joint pain and were able to participate in physical activity compared to those who didn’t take supplementation.
3. Prevent bone loss
Our bones are mostly collagen, which keeps them strong and gives them structure. Without it, our bone mass decreases which can increase fracture risk and lead to conditions like osteoporosis.
Collagen supplementation could increase bone mineral density (BMD) by 7% according to a 2018 study. In the study, 66 women took 5 grams of collagen each day for 12 months.
4. Boost muscle mass
Our muscles are composed of up to 10% collagen which keeps them strong and properly functioning. Sarcopenia is a condition that is age-related and creates an involuntary loss of muscle mass and strength.
A study published in 2015 wanted to see how collagen could benefit men who were dealing with this condition. 27 men took 15 grams of collagen while participating in an exercise program each day for 12 weeks. The results found that the men taking supplementation had more muscle mass and strength compared to those who were exercising without collagen supplementation.
5. Heart health
Collagen has a role in providing structure to our arteries, which carry blood from our heart to the rest of our body. Arteries will begin to get weak if there isn’t enough collagen available in our bodies. This can lead to atherosclerosis, the narrowing of arteries, which can cause heart attacks or strokes.
A 2017 study found that healthy adults who took 16 grams of collagen every day for 6 months had reduced artery stiffness compared to before starting supplementation. They also had increased HDL “good” cholesterol by an average of 6% which can ward off conditions like atherosclerosis.
Another plus is that there are not many known risks of taking collagen supplements. Just be sure to stick with the recommended serving amount and talk with your doctor before starting.
Although collagen can be added to any smoothie you wish, here are a few classic recipes that are sure to be tasty for even the pickiest of eaters.
Collagen Strawberry Smoothie
- 1 cup of frozen strawberries
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups of milk (your choice)
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 1 scoop of Naked Nutrition collagen protein powder
Add the frozen strawberries and then milk into your blender. Give it a quick blend until they are combined. Add in honey, vanilla, and collagen and continue to blend until smooth.
Chocolate Collagen Shake
- 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder
- 2 scoops of Naked Collagen
- ½ cup coconut cream or heavy cream
- 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk
- Pinch of salt
- Honey to taste (optional)
Combine milk, cream, cocoa powder, salt, and honey (optional) into the blender and mix for a few seconds (without overmixing). Add the collagen powder and continue to blend until it reaches your desired consistency.