Why take collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein found in the body. Our body can make collagen by itself, so why should we supplement?
Well, our body's collagen levels decline as we age and many other factors can also promote collagen breakdown such as sun exposure, smoking, poor dietary habits, and pollution.
Collagen isn't a complete protein, which means that it does not contain all essential amino acids. However, it does contain high levels of glycine, hydroxyproline, and proline, which are particularly beneficial for anti-aging and gut health.
Though we can obtain collagen from foods, collagen supplementation is said to be more efficiently absorbed as it has already been broken down.
This is why many people will experience many beauty and health benefits from dietary supplements that contain collagen. The benefits of collagen supplements may include accelerated wound healing, stronger hair and nails, improved digestion, and improvement in skin elasticity.
Loss of collagen may result in joint pain, accelerated aging of the skin, aching muscles, intestinal permeability, loss of hair, and brittle or dull hair.
So how long does it take for collagen to work?
Collagen peptides are absorbed fairly quickly into the bloodstream and are said to start working their magic within an hour of ingestion.
However, how fast collagen will make a difference for you will depend on your current collagen levels in your body. If you have very low levels you may notice a more dramatic effect in a shorter amount of time. The lower your collagen levels the more drastic of an effect you will likely experience.
Regular and consistent intake of collagen is recommended in order to reap the benefits. This is why it is often suggested to consume collagen for a minimum of one month to see noticeable effects. Human studies have observed beneficial effects on skin health in a matter of 4 weeks (1)(2).
If you are looking for support with joint health and hair loss, it may likely take a little longer to see noticeable improvements, however, each individual will experience collagen differently.
What can affect how fast it works?
There are numerous factors that can impact the rate at which collagen works in the body. Collagen's effects will vary depending on the individual, dosing, health status, dietary habits, alcohol consumption, gut health, and the type of collagen consumed.
How long does it take for collagen to work for skin?
Collagen is one of the main structural proteins in the human body and makes up our connective tissue. This is why collagen is essential for healthy skin and has been shown to provide numerous skin benefits.
Collagen can help to improve skin conditions such as dry skin, wrinkles, and loss of skin hydration (4).
Though changes can occur quite quickly, the typical recommendation is to give it at least 3 months of regular consumption to start to see significant changes in your skin from collagen.
How long does it take for collagen to work for the joints and tendons?
Collagen has been shown to help improve joint health, flexibility, and mobility while also providing pain relief from achy joints. As this protein makes up about 60% of cartilage, it may come as no surprise that a lack of collagen can lead to joint problems and even increase the risk of degenerative joint disorders.
Human studies have found that collagen supplements can improve joint mobility and decrease pain among patients with osteoarthritis and among athletes (7).
Collagen protein can help to build and repair muscles, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage and can be particularly helpful to support recovery after exercise.
A study following a group of athletes taking dietary collagen hydrolysate showed improvements in joint pain after 24 weeks of supplementing (8).
As we get older, collagen production naturally declines which can impact performance and recovery time. Taking collagen regularly can help to keep your joints healthy and manage exercise related pain, though its benefits will often take a few months to notice significant effects.
How long does it take for collagen to work on muscles?
Though collagen should not be used as a replacement for protein, as it does not contain all essential amino acids, it can be used as a supportive nutrient to help grow stronger muscles and increase muscle mass (9).
Collagen, the major connective tissue protein, is an important component of muscle and has been shown to benefit muscle tissue in many ways.
A study found after 12 weeks of collagen peptide supplementation combined with resistance training, participants noticed significantly higher body mass and fat-free mass, and an increase in strength compared to placebo (10).
When taken on a daily basis, research seems to suggest that it can take up to 3 months to show results in muscle tissue.
How long does it take for collagen to work on the bones?
Collagen is a vital protein for bone health, as our bones are mostly made up of collagen. Collagen provides structure and strength to bones and studies have found that taking collagen can help to maintain strong bones.
Research suggests that collagen supplementation may help to prevent bone breakdown associated with conditions such as osteoporosis (12).
It has been shown to exert a positive therapeutic role in osteoporosis and osteoarthritis by potentially increasing bone density, providing a protective effect on cartilage, and helping with pain relief.
How long does it take to see the effects? Depending on the individual, dosing, and supplement it can take a few months to up to a year for considerable changes to occur (13).
How long does it take for collagen to work for hair and nails?
Collagen is often talked about for its beautifying effects on hair and nail health.
Hair is primarily made up of the protein keratin and collagen provides certain amino acids that are required to make keratin (14). The main amino acid found in keratin, proline, is also found in collagen. Ingestion of amino acids can help to support the production of keratin.
Collagen, and more particularly marine collagen, also acts as a natural antioxidant, fighting oxidative stress that can damage hair follicles (15)(16). This can help to protect hair from damage and reduce breakage and thinning.
This protein may help to strengthen the hair follicle and improve elasticity and overall hair quality typically between a range of 4 to 8 weeks.
Though research suggests that collagen can help to grow stronger hair, more studies are needed.
Collagen supplements can also help to keep nails strong and healthy.
A study of 25 women found that 88% of participants reported improvements in nail growth rate and improved brittle nails after 4 weeks of collagen supplementation (17).
What is the best form of collagen to take?
Collagen peptides are considered one of the best forms of collagen to consume. This is also known as hydrolyzed collagen, meaning the protein has been broken down into short chains of amino acids that are easy to absorb.
There are actually 16 different types of collagen. This may come as somewhat of a surprise as most people only ever talk about collagen types I, II and III, which are the most well researched.
Collagen can be sourced from beef, chicken, fish, or pork.
When choosing a bovine collagen product, always look for grass-fed quality, and look for wild caught when choosing a marine collagen supplement.
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