Collagen is the protein responsible for skin elasticity. It also plays a role in joint and bone health. Human bodies create collagen naturally. Over time, however, the production of this protein slows down. As a result, a person's skin begins to lose some of its ability to bounce back into shape, a process that many call "elasticity." As this occurs, wrinkles begin to form. Although certain foods, such as bone broth, contain collagen, people who want wrinkle-free skin or other health benefits often look to supplements to increase their collagen intake.
Better skin health
Some people who take collagen supplements are looking to improve the look and overall health of their skin. Many believe that collagen supplements can help reduce the effects of aging, such as by adding moisture to the skin, reducing wrinkles, and improving elasticity.
Improved joint health
As a person ages, their joints start to break down. In particular, the spongy cartilage of the joints starts to wear away. There is some evidence to suggest that collagen supplements can help with restoring or preventing the deterioration of the cartilage in the joints.
Prevents bone loss
Collagen makes up a significant amount of bone structure and helps keep the bones strong. As a person ages and collagen production slows, bones can become weaker as the person loses the collagen necessary to keep the bones strong and supported. This can lead to the development of conditions such as osteoporosis.
There are also claims that collagen may provide additional health benefits. However, these claims do not have backing by scientific research.
Other Potential Benefits
Some other potential things that collagen may help with include:
- maintaining a healthy gut
- maintaining a healthy weight
- promote cardiovascular health
- reducing anxiety
- improving mood
- promoting healthy nail and hair growth
Types and how to use them
Collagen supplements come in a variety of types. A person should choose the supplement that best supports their goals when picking a collagen type.
The following are the most common types of collagen a person can find in stores or online:
- Type 1: This is one of the most abundant types present in the human body and helps support healthy skin.
- Type 2: This is present primarily in cartilage and can help promote joint health.
- Type 3: This type also helps promote skin health by improving elasticity.
- Type 5: This type helps promote the growth of the placenta in pregnant women.
- Type 10: This type also occurs in cartilage and helps promote bone health and development.
Most supplements will contain several of these, and possibly other, types of collagen. Also, in many cases, the collagen is hydrolyzed. Undergoing the hydrolyzation process makes collagen easier for the body to absorb.