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Collagen is one of the most plentiful proteins in mammals. It is responsible for several biological functions, one of which is to provide structural support in connective tissue, muscle, and skin.

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.

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People can increase their intake of collagen by taking supplements.

Many people take collagen supplements to add more collagen to their diet.

Most collagen supplements go through the process of hydrolyzation. This means that the manufacturer has broken the collagen in the supplements down into peptides, making it easier for the body to absorb and use.

Collagen supplements are available in the form of tablets, capsules, and powders. Many are available to buy online.

Whether or not collagen supplements are effective depends on what a person uses collagen for.

There are several potential health benefits that collagen supplements offer. However, scientists have not fully studied all the alleged benefits.

Also, as with any supplement, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not evaluate any claims that a company makes on how well their collagen product works.

However, some of the potential health benefits of collagen supplements include:

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.

What do the studies say?

There is some evidence to back these claims up. For example, in a study in the Journal of Medical Nutrition and Nutraceuticals, several women drank a mixture containing various vitamins, minerals, hydrolyzed collagen, and hyaluronic acid.

The study showed that compared with those in the control group, the women who drank this mixture reduced the depth of their wrinkles significantly. The participants' skin hydration and elasticity also improved significantly.

Another similar study in the journal Skin Pharmacology and Physiology looked at the effects of collagen supplements on women's skin.

In this study, the women took either a collagen supplement or placebo for 8 weeks. After those 8 weeks, the women who took the supplement had higher elasticity and moisture levels.

There are also claims that collagen may help prevent skin conditions such as acne. However, such claims do not yet have scientific evidence to support them.

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.

What do the studies say?

One review of the research into collagen supplementation found that using hydrolyzed collagen supplements helps promote joint health and potentially restore some bone density in people with osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.

The review also showed that it helped reduce joint pain.

There is some evidence to suggest that using collagen supplements may help increase muscle mass.

What do the studies say?

A small study of 53 men revealed the positive effects of taking collagen supplements when exercising. The participants study took 15 grams (g) of collagen or a placebo pill per day.

The participants engaged in regular exercise for 12 weeks. At the end of this period, those who took the collagen supplements showed an increase in muscle mass and strength that was significantly more pronounced than in those taking the placebo pill.

The researchers theorized that collagen helped stimulate the production of the proteins responsible for muscle growth.

Though this study is promising, more research is necessary to fully determine the positive effects that collagen may have on muscle growth.

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.

What do the studies say?

There is some evidence to suggest that taking collagen supplements may help prevent the deterioration of bone density and strength.

For example, one small study had women take either calcium or calcium and collagen supplements for 1 year.

The researchers found that the women taking the calcium and the collagen had lower levels of a protein responsible for breaking down bones in their blood.

Additional research is necessary to fully prove the effects that collagen has on promoting strong bones, however.

Taking collagen supplements may also help support a healthy cardiovascular system.

What do the studies say?

In a small study of 30 participants, half took 16 g of collagen tripeptide for 6 months. This group saw a significant reduction in artery stiffness and a reduction in their low-density lipoprotein, or "bad," cholesterol levels.

Reducing the stiffness of arteries can help promote heart health. However, more research is necessary to prove the effects of collagen in supporting heart health.

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Collagen supplements may be beneficial for nail growth.

There are also claims that collagen may provide additional health benefits. However, these claims do not have backing by scientific research.

Some other potential things that collagen may help with include:

  • maintaining a healthy gut
  • maintaining a healthy weight
  • reducing anxiety
  • improving mood
  • promoting healthy nail and hair growth

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.

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Collagen supplements may cause mild digestive side effects.

Taking collagen supplements as a healthcare professional directs is generally safe.

A person should always talk to their doctor before starting any new supplements or increasing the use of any existing supplement.

In general, the side effects of collagen supplements are mild and can include:

  • diarrhea
  • a general feeling of heaviness in the stomach
  • rashes

Otherwise, in most adults, taking collagen supplements should not pose any significant health risks.

Most collagen supplements are not vegan or vegetarian friendly. Manufacturers tend to produce them using the bones and protein of animals.

However, some vegan and vegetarian collagen options are available. The vegan options may not be available everywhere, but many are available online.

A person can also use collagen supplements while following a keto diet plan. Similar to vegan options, a person may want to look for a collagen supplement that specifically aims to support the keto diet.

Many people know collagen for its role in supporting skin health and vitality. However, it might also help promote other areas of health, such as bone, joint, and heart health.

People can consume collagen supplements they purchase from a number of online and local stores, and they can usually find a type that matches their specific dietary needs.

For most people, taking collagen should not have any major effects or health consequences.