The search for the fabled fountain of youth is a pursuit as old as time. Modern beauty products continue the quest, creating new versions of “miracle” ingredients year after year. Yet few have proven to stand the test of time like collagen. Although the modern beauty industry is mere decades old, collagen has been used for its restorative properties as far back as Ancient China.
Modern science is finally catching on, and has found important health benefits from head to toe.
Collagen gives your skin elasticity, strength, and moisture. As we age, our bodies make less collagen, and it often shows in our skin in the form of wrinkles and dryness. Studies show that taking collagen slows that aging process by stimulating your own natural production of collagen. It may also prompt your body to make other proteins that support skin: elastin and fibrillin. The result is smoother, more hydrated and healthier skin. Healthier skin not only looks great but does a better job of protecting what’s underneath than dry, fragile skin.
Collagen makes up 90% of the protein in our bones and provides a framework for calcium to embed into. The combination of collagen and calcium gives bones both structure and strength. These components of bone are broken down as we age, and our bodies can’t replace them as quickly as when we were younger. When we lose more than we make, bones become less dense and weaker. Taking collagen helps increase bone density and slow down bone loss, especially in post-menopausal women, who are most at risk for bone density loss.
The main role of collagen in your body is to provide structure to different organs and body systems. In your circulatory system, collagen gives structure to your arteries, which deliver blood from your heart to your body. Arteries without enough collagen can grow weak and become narrowed. Narrowed arteries can lead to conditions like heart attack and stroke. Collagen gives them structure and flexibility, helping them do their job better.
Muscles are primarily made up of proteins, including a small percentage of collagen. Although muscles don’t contain as much collagen as bones, they can still benefit from a collagen supplement. Muscles need collagen to stay strong. Studies have shown that a collagen supplement can boost muscle mass, and encourage production of other proteins needed for muscle growth. Taken after an injury or a workout, collagen helps your body repair and restore stressed or strained muscles, often resulting in a decrease in muscle soreness.
Many studies have shown that collagen helps reduce joint pain. Your body’s own collagen supports the cartilage in your joints – the cushion between bones. Age and general wear-and-tear breaks down that collagen, leading to disorders like osteoarthritis. Marine collagen helps to restore, strengthen, and maintain cartilage and slow age-related deterioration, reducing joint pain and preventing injury. Stronger, healthier joints also support your bones.
Collagen is an important building block of the dermis, the layer of skin that holds and protects the roots of your hair and the beds of your nails. Maintaining a healthy dermis can counteract the aging process in the dermis that leads to thinning hair and weak nails. It may also provide amino acids that help prompt hair and nail growth and improve symptoms of brittle nails.
Modern science is just starting to get caught up with what ancient healers have known for centuries: taking collagen has healing benefits. Other reported benefits that look promising include: