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Collagen powder supplements have seen a huge growth in popularity in recent months. That’s because people are discovering the many proven benefits of taking collagen powder, particularly in reversing the hallmarks of aging[16] such as wrinkles, thinning skin, joint pain, and even digestive issues.

Collagen plays an important role in many body systems including hair, skin, digestion, blood vessels, body fat, weight, nails, muscle, bones, joints, and wound healing.
Collagen plays an important role in many body systems.

What is Collagen?

Collagen is an important protein found in most animals, particularly in mammals. About 40% of your body’s protein is collagen. It’s the foundation of most of the tissues in your body including your bones, tendons, skin, and ligaments. This protein is made up of chains of the amino acids proline, glycine, and hydroxyproline.

As we get older, our bodies produce less and less collagen. This age-related collagen deficiency is one of the primary causes of most of the outwardly visible signs of aging.

What are the benefits of collagen powder?

Collagen powder supplements have many benefits and in this article I’m going to share ten of them. They’re all backed by research. In fact, you can find links to the relevant research at the end of this article. All of the listed benefits have the relevant article indicated in superscript [like this] so it’s easy to see to which research study the benefit refers.

It’s important for us to note that not all collagen power brands are the same. All of the research studies I reference here used very high quality forms of collagen. If you’re going to try collagen powder, do yourself a favor and start with a high quality, 100% pure, reputable brand. Low quality, discount collagen will be less effective, while potentially containing contaminants, additives, and off-flavors. Discount brands often use sweeteners and flavoring to try to mask the distinct, foul taste of collagen from cheap sources.

At the end of this article I’ve included a few things to look for when purchasing collagen powder. I’ll also share a great resource you can use to help you decide on which collagen brand to buy.

⦿ #1: Improved Skin

Perhaps the most well known benefit of collagen powder is its ability to tighten and lift skin from within. When collagen is lost due to aging, skin begins to thin and fold. This creates lines and wrinkles. It also robs skin of it’s moisture and color. Skin in this condition is sometimes referred to as “crepey skin” (looking and feeling like crepe paper).

Supplementing collagen replaces this lost collagen, gently lifting skin from below. This reduces the appearance of wrinkles and tightens loose, thinning skin.[4] Collagen also help skin absorb and retain moisture which helps restore a more youthful, radiant appearance.[5][6]

There is ample evidence, collected over the last twenty years, that supports taking collagen to reduce the signs of aging on skin. A study in 2020 involving women of age 45-54 years showed a significant improvement in skin elasticity, reduction in wrinkles, greater skin hydration, more radiance, and improved firmness.[4]

“…collagen is able to induce noticeable improvement in elasticity and hydration of the skin.[6]

Effects of a nutritional supplement containing collagen peptides on skin elasticity, hydration and wrinkles, 2015

Similar studies in March and June of 2021 concluded that taking collagen supplements leads to a significant improvement in wrinkle depth and said that “collagen is able to induce noticeable improvement in elasticity and hydration of the skin.” [6][3]

⦿ #2: Strong Bones

When most people think of taking a supplement for their bones, it’s calcium that comes to mind. But there’s strong support for collagen powder’s ability to promote healthy, strong bones. Recent studies have demonstrated that taking a collagen powder supplement can not only prevent the weakening of your bones but also reverse bone loss.

“[Collagen] was associated with a favorable shift in bone markers, indicating increased bone formation and reduced bone degradation.

Specific Collagen Peptides Improve Bone Mineral Density and Bone Markers in Postmenopausal Women—A Randomized Controlled Study, Jan. 2018

One study in post-menopausal women with age-related loss of bone mass density (BMD), or osteopenia, found that collagen supplementation “was associated with a favorable shift in bone markers, indicating increased bone formation and reduced bone degradation.” This suggests that taking collagen supplements can be beneficial in preventing and treating bone loss. Especially in people with osteopenia and osteoporosis.

⦿ #3: Thicker Hair

Age-related hair loss, also known as involutional alopecia, is hair loss that occurs naturally with age. This is different than the more well known “male pattern baldness”, or androgenetic alopecia. Though less common, “female pattern baldness” does occur.

In age-related hair loss, more of your hair follicles go into and stay in a “resting” phase for a longer amount of time than they did when you were younger. That’s good news, though, because if they’re just resting you can wake them up again!

“[Collagen] safely and effectively promotes significant hair growth.

A Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Study Evaluating the Efficacy of an Oral Supplement in Women with Self-perceived Thinning Hair, 2012

One study concluded that taking a collagen powder supplement “safely and effectively promotes significant hair growth.” [10] Participants showed improvements in hair volume, scalp coverage, and thickness of their hair. Additional improvement included hair shine and, of course, skin moisture retention and skin smoothness.[10]

Another study said increases were observed for total hair count and total hair density. The study also found that hairs were more difficult to pull out, and less likely to fall out or shed, after starting a collagen powder regimen. [9]

⦿ #4: Stronger Nails

Brittle nail syndrome is a prevalent condition among women and refers to nails with a rough surface, uneven thickness, color changes, and peeling. These conditions can be caused by too little or too much moisture, but often the cause is simply not having enough collagen for your body to produce healthy nails.

In an experiment involving people with brittle nails, collagen powder was shown to increase their nail growth rate by 12% and led to a decrease of 42% in the frequency of broken nails.[11] A whopping 88% of participants showed improvement in their nails after taking collagen powder with 80% stating they were completely satisfied with the results they saw.[11]

⦿ #5: Healthy Heart

Even when faced with a global pandemic in 2020, heart disease was still the #1 killer in that year, for about 21% of adult deaths. [21] Most of us aren’t always able to eat as healthy as we should and modern life is full of turmoil and bad news that has a way of keeping us stressed. All of these are compounding factors in the increasing prevalence of heart disease.

A very recent study on the effects of collagen supplementation on cardiovascular markers, conducted in June of 2022, found that collagen supplementation led to a significant decrease in “bad cholesterol” (low-density lipoprotein, or LDL).[12] Having high levels of “bad cholesterol” is believed to be a key contributor to developing heart disease.

“…collagen peptide supplementation led to a significant decrease in [bad cholesterol].”

Effects of collagen peptide supplementation on cardiovascular markers: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised, placebo-controlled trials, Jun 2022

The same study also found that taking collagen can reduce blood pressure (which is key to preventing stroke and maintaining a healthy heart), reduce fat accumulation, as well as increase fat-free mass (typically bone and muscle).[12]

⦿ #6 Manageable Weight

We all know that being overweight can cause all sorts of health issues. Losing weight isn’t easy and there’s no miracle shortcut to losing weight–it will always take some work. However, you can make it easier on yourself, and give yourself the best possible chance of success, by using every tool available to you. Collagen is one of those tools.

As I mentioned earlier, collagen supplements have been shown to reduce the accumulation of fat and to increase fat-free mass.[12] Another study found the percentage of body fat and body fat mass in people taking collagen was significantly better than those who didn’t take collagen.[13] One study suggested that collagen supplements may assist in the reduction of hard-to-lose visceral (belly) fat.[14]

⦿ #7: Healthy Joints

If we’re lucky enough to live to old age, joint point is something we’ll all deal with in one way or another. As we age, the collagen-containing cartilage in our joints gradually breaks down. Our bodies have trouble replacing the collagen (and repairing the cartilage), which leads to less cushioning in our joints, inflammation, and pain.

Several studies have show the beneficial role collagen can play in helping mitigate the harmful affects of aging on our joints. One study found positive evidence for the use of collagen supplements in treating and preventing joint related issues in both athletes and high-risk (aging) populations. The doctors in the study found patients taking collagen had significantly reduced joint pain while at rest and while moving.[15]

Another study was designed to evaluate the effects of taking collagen peptide powder on the symptoms of osteoarthritis and other joint disorders. It concluded that collagen will beneficially accumulate in joints and found “collagen […] to be safe and to provide improvement in measures of pain and function in some men and women with OA or other arthritic conditions.[17]

⦿ #8: Increased Muscle Mass

Increasing muscle mass sounds like it’s something that only bodybuilders and athletes need to be concerned with, but everyone should keep their muscle mass at top of mind. More muscle means you’re stronger and therefore less likely to fall. Muscles don’t just give us strength and stability, they also provide protection to our bones and organs. So, if you do fall, having more muscle mass means you’re less likely to damage your organs or break your bones.

“…compared with placebo, collagen peptide supplementation in combination with resistance training further improved body composition…”

Collagen peptide supplementation in combination with resistance training improves body composition and increases muscle strength in elderly sarcopenic men: a randomised controlled trial, 2015

One study in 2021 demonstrated that untrained (not athletic) middle-aged men benefited significantly from taking collagen powder. Those taking collagen showed a greater increase in fat free mass (muscle) and a decrease in body fat. The group that didn’t receive collagen protein, and didn’t see the same benefits, received a different protein–whey.[1] This means that simply getting more protein isn’t enough. It needs to be the right kind of protein. Another study in elderly men concluded with similar results.[2]

⦿ #9: Reduced Bloating & Digestive Issues

Bloating is a very common ailment can cause pain and discomfort, especially after eating foods that tend to irritate the lining of your digestive tract. Our bodies often struggle to properly digest the foods we eat in our modern diets. This can cause a myriad of digestive issues, including bloating, cramping, bouts of alternating constipation and diarrhea, and inflammation. Some theories suggest a “leaky gut” (a condition where your intestinal lining is impaired, allowing toxins to enter your body) can cause multiple issues across all body systems.

An investigation published in May of 2022 sought to determine if collagen could improve bloating and digestive issues in otherwise healthy women. Of the women who took collagen and completed the study, 93% reported a marked reduction in digestive symptoms, including bloating,  even without other changes in diet or lifestyle. The study also noted that only about 1 in 3 people were aware of the possibility of using collagen to improve digestive health.[18]

⦿ #10: Faster Recovery

Collagen plays a crucial role in recovery from injury, in both exercise-related injury (the normal pain you feel after vigorous exercise) and acute injuries like burns and cuts. Your body needs plenty of collagen to replace broken-down muscle and to heal wounds by building scar tissues. As you age is becomes harder, and takes longer, for wounds to heal because your body has less collagen to work with.

A 2019 study focused on patients with severe burns. The patients were given either a placebo or a collagen supplement. The ratio of wound healing was 3.7 times higher in those that received collagen compared to those that didn’t. They concluded that a hydrolyzed (powdered) collagen-based supplement could significantly improve wound healing and meaningfully reduce hospital stay in burn patients.[19]

Another study looked at recovery the day after extensive exercise. It found that collagen peptide supplements may provide a performance benefit the day after a session of damaging exercise.[20]

Are all collagen powder supplements the same?

All collagen supplements are not created equally! They can vary rather significantly in quality, price, purity, and effectiveness. If I could give you only one piece of advice regarding which collagen you should be taking, it would be that you should never go with a discount brand.

The “cheapest” brands are usually purchased in bulk from questionable 3rd-world sources and often contain additives and fillers used to bulk up the load and save money. Some can even higher quality collagens that have gone rancid from being stored improperly or far beyond their shelf life. Yuck!

Hydrolyzed bovine collagen is known to be the most bioavailable and most effective.”

Hydrolyzed bovine collagen is known to be the most bioavailable and most effective. As with most products, grass-fed and organic is best. Make sure the collagen is 100% pure and free of additives and sweeteners (sweeteners are often used to cover up foul-tasting collagen). There are vegetarian collagen options available but you can expect to have to take more (spend more) and wait longer for results.

It’s also worth noting that in order to see success, you need to be realistic. My second piece of advice is to give it time to work! Collagen has many proven benefits but it’s not an overnight miracle cure for all of your problems–there’s no such thing! Many of the issues that collagen can help resolve likely took years to develop.

“…give collagen the time it needs to work its magic.”

Did you gain weight, get wrinkles, lose your hair or develop joint pain in one day or one week? Probably not. Buy collagen in bulk so you don’t run out–you’ll also save a ton of money. Then stay stay committed and give collagen the time it needs to work its magic.

Next Steps

If you’re looking to learn more about collagen powder, or which brands to consider, I recommend checking out Natural Reviews’ Top 5 Collagen Powder Brands of 2022. They have a great, up-to-date list of the best and most popular collagen brands available today.

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  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32799362/
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  11. https://www.usnews.com/news/healthiest-communities/slideshows/top-10-causes-of-death-in-america