Ask any health expert, scientist, or doctor their thoughts on collagen supplements a few years ago, and they would have likely mentioned the words "scam", "craze", and "trend". Oh, how things have changed. Just walk into your nearest grocery store or health shop—it's now clear that collagen supplements are here to stay. And for a good reason.
There’s increasing evidence they indeed “beef up” (pun entirely intended!) your body’s collagen levels, counteracting the natural collagen production decline, an estimated loss rate of 1% yearly starting in your 20s. Okay, that’s great. But what, exactly, does that help with? Well, that’s what this article is for.
What are the benefits of collagen powder?
Collagen is the main structural protein that forms the connective tissues throughout your body—from the skin to bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. This, in turn, suggests that collagen supplementation (e.g., in powder form) could benefit you from head to toe. Research agrees.
#1: Smooths out fine lines and wrinkles
Akin to a plush toy losing some of its stuffing, your face loses “volume” when your collagen levels fall—translating into fine lines, wrinkles, and potentially saggy skin.
Enter, collagen supplementation. Studies consistently highlight collagen supplements’ (hydrolysed collagen peptides, in particular) ability to promote the body’s natural production of collagen and elastin: two crucial ingredients your skin needs to stay firm and taut. In a 2019 review, researchers found that women who’d taken 3–10 grams of collagen daily for an average of 69 days experienced significant improvements in skin elasticity and hydration.
#2: Supports hair and nail health
Your body needs amino acids—many of which are found in collagen peptides (e.g., proline)—to build keratin, a protein that makes up your hair. So, supplementing with collagen could help your body make the keratin it needs for thicker, healthier hair. This isn't the only mechanism through which collagen helps with hair health, by the way. Discover two other ways collagen helps with hair growth here.
What about nail health? Beyond simply boosting your body’s production of keratin (a major protein found in nail beds), the collagen peptides also increase your body’s levels of arginine—an amino acid responsible for carrying nitric oxide through the capillaries, into the nail bed. The result? Stronger, shinier nails.
#3: Improves joint (and knee) pain
Studies show that collagen peptides can help decrease joint inflammation—and thus pain—by lowering the production of a key inflammatory marker, Tumor Necrosis Factor (NCF). Those of you struggling with knee pain will also be heartened by numerous studies linking collagen supplementation and significant improvements in knee pain, mobility, and inflammation levels. Find more information on the relationship between collagen and knee pain here.
#4: Enhances wound repair
Collagen facilitates wound healing by performing three crucial functions: it acts as a scaffolding structure that helps “close” the wound, fends off infections, and rebuilds cartilage (when necessary).
So, the next time you're scheduled for surgery—like a C-section or maybe even just a biopsy—you know what'll help with recovery: collagen powder. Oh, and mums, in particular, shouldn't sleep on collagen supplementation; swirling just a scoop of collagen into your morning coffee or oatmeal could reduce the appearance of stretch marks, support your breastfeeding journey, amongst other benefits.
#5: Promotes heart health
As the leading cause of death globally, cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) take 17.9 million lives yearly. It's a scary statistic—and reminds us that we cannot take our heart health for granted. Besides the usual heart-healthy habits (e.g., staying physically active, eating a balanced, nutritious diet, and managing stress levels), it appears that supplementing with collagen could also help reduce your risk of CVDs by improving the flexibility of arteries and increasing levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol.
There is now increasingly credible research that collagen works. Add collagen supplement into your daily routine, and you'd likely see noticeable benefits in skin, hair, nail, joint, and heart health. You'd even see your wounds healing faster than ever before. As with all supplements, though, do be careful about the collagen product you pick.