There has been a recent surge in the popularity of collagen.
However, many consumers are still unsure what it's for and how to take it.
This short review will discuss what collagen is, along with its potential benefits.
Collagen is the most abundant protein found in the human body (1) and is primarily responsible for providing structure to the body’s connective tissue.
The primary function of collagen, more or less, is to keep the entire body connected together. In fact, the word collagen is derived from the Greek word “κόλλα” (kólla) which means glue.
There are at least 16 known types of collagen, (2) but the most common forms are the first four:
While the body will naturally create its own collagen, it will use amino acids from digested protein to help create additional collagen.
Some of the most collagen-rich foods include:
In addition to increasing one’s protein intake, bone broth is another dietary source that is rich in collagen. There are many prepared bone broth options available on the market today, however, one could make their own at home by boiling animal bones for a few hours.
The body uses nutrients like Vitamin C, Copper and amino acids, like glycine and proline, to make collagen. Most protein sources (ie: poultry, tofu, legumes) are rich in amino acids while Vitamin C can be found in most fruits and vegetables and copper found in organ meat and lentils.
Eating a diet with these nutrients will ensure that the body has the cofactors it needs to produce its own collagen.
As previously mentioned, the body slows down its natural production of collagen as we age. In addition to eating a balanced diet, one could use a dietary supplement to help provide the body with additional collagen.
The amount someone should consume will vary based on their specific health goals.
For muscle mass, one study found an increase in body mass, in conjunction with exercise, using 15g over a 12 week period (7).
For healthier skin, one study found that 7g of collagen for 6 weeks resulted in increased skin pliability and elasticity which resulted in smoother skin with fewer wrinkles (8). Another study looked at a dose of 2.5g and 5g, compared to placebo, and found that both doses resulted in improved skin elasticity compared to placebo after the 8 week trial.
For joint health, research found that only 40mg ofUC-II®,an undenatured type 2 collagen, to be helpful in joint comfort, mobility and flexibility (9,10) after 120 and 180 days. Another 12 week study, using a different branded raw material (FORTIGEL®), found 5g to be effective at improving activity-related joint pain (11).
The length of time someone should expect to take collagen before seeing the desired outcome will vary based on their goals for using collagen.
While some studies were conducted over a 6-month period, others found a benefit after only 6 weeks. Generally speaking, one could expect to see some type of change after 6-8 weeks of consistently supplementing with collagen.
However, for some applications, they might consider waiting a longer period of time before assessing the effectiveness of a product.
There may be additional supplement options that could be used in conjunction with collagen to expedite desired outcomes.
For example, someone using collagen for joint support could consider using a glucosamine formula to provide additional support.
Using a collagen supplement can be an effective way to augment the body’s natural production of collagen. This could provide benefits to the health of their skin, muscle tissue and joints.
For those looking for a formula that is designed to target joint health, they could consider using Coll-U-Gen from Utzy Naturals. This flavorless collagen powder easily blends into any beverage and supplies an effective dose of two brand name hydrolyzed collagen peptides -UC-II®& FORTIGEL®.
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