One of my favorite things about the OGT Community is that we’re sharers! :-) From the very earliest days of my blog, this community has empowered me to share my own experiences and ideas. And I’ve learned so much from reading your thoughts in return!
Today’s post continues our tradition of sharing, because today we’ll be talking about collagen supplements. I recently started taking collagen myself after hearing so much about it from my friends and family. But before we get to what a collagen supplement can do for you, let’s start with the basics: what is collagen?
What Is Collagen?
Collagen is a protein that your body produces naturally. It’s a major component in the structure of bones, skin, and connective tissues. As we age, our bodies start producing less collagen than they used to, which can contribute to decreased bone density, sagging skin, aching joints, and more.
Collagen supplements are produced from animal sources, and the collage is broken down into small particles that are easily absorbed by the body. Collagen supplements have been gaining popularity over the past few years as a way to prevent the negative effects of natural collagen loss.
Here are a few of the specific benefits that collagen supplementation can offer:
4 Promising Benefits Of Taking A Collagen Supplement
As I mentioned above, we produce less collagen the older we get. But according to a 2013 study, taking an oral collagen supplement can reduce the appearance of wrinkles by encouraging your body to produce more of its own natural collagen.
But the benefits collagen can have on skin aren’t limited to smoothing out wrinkles. For me, the biggest benefit I’ve experienced from taking a collagen supplement is the improvement I’ve seen in my chronic foot wound.
To make a long story short, radiation treatments as a teen left me with a wound on my left foot that has never fully healed. But since I started taking a collagen supplement, my foot wound has actually shown a significant improvement! Something many, many other natural and medical treatments I have tried have failed to do.
This wound healing effect coincides with the findings of a 2019 study where collagen supplementation helped improve skin elasticity, hydration, and healing.
2. Hair & Nails
Your hair and nails are made primarily of a type of protein called keratin. Taking a collagen supplement provides your body with protein it can break down into the building blocks that support keratin production, leading to stronger hair and nails.
If you suffer from brittle nails, collagen can help! A 2017 study found that an oral collagen supplement increased nail growth and decreased the frequency of brittle and broken fingernails.
The cartilage between your joints acts like a cushion, but factors like age and arthritis can compromise that cushioning effect. When cartilage fails to cushion your joints properly, it leads to aching, painful joints.
According to a 2016 review, collagen supplementation can have a protective effect on cartilage and provide relief for joint pain. My daughter-in-law Kaitlyn’s experience with taking collagen reflects this effect:
“I’ve had issues with my left knee since high school, and it usually bothers me when I go hiking or running. Since I started taking collagen, I haven’t had that issue with my knee on hikes. It’s been incredible!”
Diminishing bone density can create real problems for aging women. (While osteoporosis can affect both men and women, women are more likely to be affected for a number of reasons.)
But collagen supplementation has shown promising results in reversing the effects of weakening bones in women. A 2018 study found that women who took 5 grams of collagen peptides daily showed both increased bone production and decreased bone degradation after 12 months!
Tips For Choosing A Collagen Supplement
Since collagen is still being studied for its effects on health, the industry isn’t well regulated at this point. That can make choosing a collagen supplement a bit tricky, but here are some pointers that should help.
- Collagen is an animal product, so it’s a good idea to look for companies who source their collagen from cage-free, free-range, and antibiotic-free animals.
- Third-party certifications like NSF or USP can indicate that a product has met certain quality and sanitation standards.
- Avoid products that blend collagen with other ingredients like probiotics, fiber, etc. It’s hard to anticipate how these ingredients may interact, so simpler is usually better.
- Look for collagen hydrolysate, hydrolyzed collagen, or collagen peptides. These labels indicate that the collagen has been broken down into smaller, easily absorbed particles.
This is the product that I’ve been taking, and I would happily recommend it to anyone. But I’m sure there are plenty of other options out there that are great too!
Warning: Be very careful with collagen supplements if you’re allergic to fish, shellfish, or eggs. Many collagen supplements contain these ingredients, so either avoid them altogether or read the labels thoroughly before making a purchase.
How To Take A Collagen Supplement
My first piece of advice for taking collagen is to follow the instructions on the label. Dosage will vary according to the product, so make sure to take it as directed!
Most collagen powders can be stirred into drinks, and that’s how I take mine. Kaitlyn says she gets the best results when she uses her blender to mix the collagen into something, whether it’s a smoothie, milk, or even just water.
You could even blend collagen into coffee, tea, or even your favorite soup!
Have you ever tried a collagen supplement before?