Collagen Benefits Beyond Skin, Hair & Nails
Collagen is the most abundant structural protein in the human body. In fact, it accounts for about 30% of all bodily protein. Collagen is present in all connective tissues, including bone, cartilage, ligaments, tendons, muscles, teeth, skin, and many other parts of the body. Essentially, collagen is responsible for maintaining the structural integrity of our body.
For a long time, researchers have explored the beauty benefits of collagen and the role it plays in skin health.1 Over time, researchers have expanded their focus to investigate the non-beauty benefits of collagen in overall movement and mobility. One of collagen’s most important jobs is to help keep our bones and connective tissue in optimal working condition. These benefits are sometimes overlooked, but they shouldn’t be, considering that we use these body parts every day.
Collagen’s role in muscles, joints & bones
As we age, we see reduced levels of collagen in our body, which may contribute to a loss of muscle mass, weakening of ligaments and brittleness of bones.
While collagen does not build muscle, it is vital in muscle recovery. Collagen does not contain specific amino acids essential for muscle protein synthesis. However, strength and body composition improvements have been reported with collagen peptide supplementation when paired with resistance training.2 This is thought to occur by stimulating growth of muscle after exercise through synthesis of muscle proteins.4,5,6 Collagen should not be used as a sole source of protein or nutrition.
JOINTS & LIGAMENTS
Lower collagen synthesis and repetitive stress on joints can cause joint deterioration and lead to activity limitations, chronic discomfort, and decreased joint mobility. Collagen peptide supplements can increase collagen synthesis, strengthen joint tissues, and increase collagen fibrils’ size and strength in tendons and ligaments.4,7,8 By encouraging collagen formation and providing essential amino acids, collagen supplementation may help reduce joint pain associated with osteoarthritis.1,3,9
Bones are primarily made up of collagen, and in healthy bones, there is a balance in bone turnover between the activity of bone-forming cells (osteoblasts) and cells responsible for bone reabsorption (osteoclasts). There is compelling evidence that collagen supplementation may inhibit bone collagen breakdown and alleviate painful symptoms associated with degenerative joint conditions.1
Researchers are also interested at looking at the potential role of collagen in the management of post-menopausal osteoporosis.6
In essence, collagen provides the infrastructure of the musculoskeletal system, essential for keeping us strong and mobile, which is exactly what we need to maintain our health and independence as we age. These are exciting times as researchers continue to investigate the benefits of collagen supplementation on muscles, bones, and joints.