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Collagen

The human body is made up of collagen in many forms like in the extracellular matrix and connective tissue (1). It’s a protein that holds the body together and makes up about 30-percent of the whole-body content of protein (2). Therefore, it’s no surprise that supplementing with this natural compound can provide increased health benefits. 

What is collagen?

Collagen is a major structural component of the body that in the form of collagen peptides can provide a beneficial dietary supplement (3). All collagen contains about 19 different amino acids which includes a unique amino acid, hydroxyproline, not found in other proteins (2). There are five major types of collagen, but you’ll find type 1 and type 2 most often in supplements (1). Type 1 helps connect muscle to bone, while type 2 is found in cartilage. 
 The human body can’t digest collagen in its whole form (2). Therefore, most supplement processing involves hydrolyzing collagen, or breaking down its amino acid chains, to make it easier to digest. Typical sources of collagen involve the meat from any animal as well as fish, egg whites, and spirulina. 

Is there research on the benefits of collagen?

A 2017 animal study looked at the effect of collagen peptides on the skin health of mice. Study results show that intake of collagen peptides from bovine bone significantly improved skin looseness, repaired collagen fibers, and increased collagen content of aging skin (3)
Early study results show that collagen supplements are safe for short- and long-term use to help heal wounds and improve skin health (4). They can help improve skin elasticity, hydration, and collagen dermal density. Besides improving skin health though, some research shows that collagen supplements can help reduce certain types of joint pain and can help strengthen tendons and ligaments (5). Not to mention that it may help improve bone density in postmenopausal women.
When it comes to joint pain, a 2017 animal study looked at the effect of collagen supplements on those with osteoarthritis. Study results show that intake of hydrolyzed type 1 collagen can help reduce pain and inflammation in those mice with posttraumatic osteoarthritis (6)

How much collagen should I consume daily?

Some research shows that doses of collagen supplements between 2.5 and 15 grams of bioactive collagen peptides daily is effective and safe (5).  When it comes to type 2 collagen, up to 2.5 milligrams of this type of collagen a day for 24 weeks is possible safe in most people (1,7). However, be sure to talk with your healthcare provider and pharmacist before starting any new supplement. 

Side effects and safety of collagen

Research shows that collagen is generally safe for human use without adverse side effects (4). Some side effects of type 2 collagen may include nausea, heartburn, headache, diarrhea, constipation, or skin reactions (7). Those who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid taking collagen supplements due to lack of study on its possible side effects. Also, those who are allergic to eggs or chicken should not take type 2 collagen supplements.  

Bottom line

Collagen is a vital compound when it comes to improving and maintaining skin health. Although the body contains it naturally, you lose it as you age, and skin can become loose and less elastic. Therefore, if you feel your skin is losing its luster, reach for collagen supplements to help you revive your natural glow. 

References
1. Lodish, H., et al. (2000) “Section 22.3, Collagen: The Fibrous Proteins of the Matrix.” Molecular Cell Biology. 4th edition. New York: W. H. Freeman; Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/b...
2. Santa Cruz, Jamie (March 2019) “Dietary Collagen- Should Consumers Believe the Hype?” Today’s Dietitian, Vol. 21, No. 3, P. 26. 
3. Song, H., et al. (November 2017) “Effect of Orally Administered Collagen Peptides from Bovine Bone on Skin Aging in Chronologically Aged Mice.” Nutrients, 9(11): 1209. 
4. Choi, F.D., Sung, C.T., Juhasz, M.L, and Mesinkovsk, N.A. (2019) “Oral Collagen Supplementation: A Systematic Review of Dermatologic Applications.” Journal of drugs in dermatology, 18(1): 9-16.
5. Paul, C., Leser, S., and Oesser, S. (May 2019) “Significant Amounts of Functional Collagen Peptides Can Be Incorporated in the Diet While Maintaining Indispensable Amino Acid Balance.” Nutrients, 11(5): 1079.
6. Dar, Q-A, et al. (2017) “Daily oral consumption of hydrolyzed type 1 collagen is chondroprotective and anti-inflammatory in murine posttraumatic osteoarthritis.” PLoS One, 12(4): e0174705.
7. RxList (last reviewed September 17, 2019) “Collagen Type 2.” https://www.rxlist.com/collage...
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