Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, as well as one of the most important. It's found in tendons, ligaments, fat, skin, and other places. It’s a core part of the extracellular matrix, a kind of scaffolding that helps our bodies’ connective tissues hold together.
Collagen helps hold bodies together and is essential to your body’s strength and bone structure. It’s a core part of what’s known as the extracellular matrix, a network of molecules that helps your body’s connective tissues hold together. Widely discussed for its benefits to hair, skin, and outward appearance generally – sometimes dubbed as “the fountain of youth” – collagen serves several important functions inside our bodies.
If you have concerns about your collagen levels and hope to enjoy collagen’s many health benefits, collagen supplements may be right for you. How much collagen you should take, though, depends on the reason you’re taking it. Read on to learn more.
Collagen supplements are available in different forms. The most commonly used are:
It’s available in powder form, making it easy to mix into smoothies, oatmeal, and other food and beverages. It’s also available as capsules and as topical products to be applied to skin. (At Care/of, we offer a top-notch powder derived from grass-fed bovine.)
Collagen has been shown to support skin health. One randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 64 healthy female adult subjects found that taking 1 gram of collagen peptides over 12 weeks can lead to improvement in skin hydration and skin elasticity while reducing the appearance of wrinkles. Another study found that women who consumed 10 grams daily of collagen peptides increased their skin moisture by up 28% after 8 weeks, compared to a 0% increase among those who took a placebo. A study that specifically focused on eye wrinkles also demonstrated collagen’s effectiveness: Women who ingested 2.5 grams of collagen peptides daily over 8 weeks had a 20% reduction in eye wrinkle volume compared to those who took the placebo. The maximum eye wrinkle reduction at 8 weeks was found to be an impressive 50%.
The available research suggests that taking between 2.5 to 15 grams of hydrolyzed collagen for up to 8 weeks may be effective for improving skin health. Consult with a medical professional about the right dose for you.
Collagen is essential to your body’s production of keratin, the protein that your hair is primarily made out of. Collagen is also the main component of dermis, which is a connective tissue layer containing hair follicles. More research is needed to demonstrate the effect of collagen on hair growth, though. A 2019 review of clinical studies found that taking between 2.5 and 15 grams of hydrolyzed collagen per day is safe and effective for boosting collagen levels and enjoying its related benefits.
When used by people involved in resistance training, collagen supplements can support muscle growth. A study of recreationally active men who were resistance training found that taking 15 grams of collagen supplements supported the protein composition of the skeletal muscle. Another study, this one comprising 53 older men, found that the men who consumed 15 grams of hydrolyzed collagen after training gained more muscle than the placebo group did.
What these studies clearly show is that collagen supplements post-workout can work better than taking no protein at all; what remains to be seen, though, is whether collagen supplements work better than other protein sources. But, if bone and muscle support is your goal, you can feel good about incorporating collagen supplements into your routine.
Early findings suggest that collagen can be good for joint health – though more research is still needed. One 24-week study of the use of collagen hydrolysate in athletes with exercise-induced joint pain found that those athletes who took 10 grams of the supplement daily experienced reductions in the pain compared to those who took the placebo. Researchers believe this study has broader implications for the use of collagen hydrolysate in supporting joint health.
Your bones are mainly made of collagen, making it important to keep up healthy levels. A recent study recorded the effects of 12-month daily collagen supplementation, with a dosage of 5 grams per day, on postmenopausal women. The study found improvements in bone health for the group that took the daily 5 grams of collagen compared to the placebo group.
The best time to take collagen is whatever time works best for you. Some recommend taking collagen on an empty stomach or with a cold drink to ensure maximum absorption.
Collagen is thought to be a safe, nontoxic daily supplement for healthy adults, and negative side effects are rare. It’s best to check with your healthcare provider about a recommended dosage based on your particular needs.
Collagen side effects are rare. Some report symptoms, including having an unpleasant taste in their mouths or having some stomach issues.