Protein packed with benefits
If you read health news at all, you know there’s a lot of buzz around collagen supplements. There’s a good reason – collagen offers a world of benefits, especially for those of us growing older.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body. As a major component of connective tissue, collagen holds us together by maintaining the integrity and elasticity of our skin, muscle, bones, tendons, and digestive tissue. Sadly, the amount of collagen in our tissues decreases as we age, causing wrinkles, sagging skin, joint pain and more.
Thank goodness studies show collagen supplementation can ease a host of ailments.
Collagen improves skin health. In one study women who took 2.5-5 grams of collagen for 8 weeks experienced less skin dryness and a significant increase in skin elasticity compare to those who did not take it. Researchers believe collagen supplements stimulate the body to produce collagen on its own.
Collagen helps relieve joint pain, even symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Collagen helps maintain the integrity of your cartilage, the rubber-like tissue that protects your joints. In 60 patients with severe RA, supplementing for 3 months with chicken Type II collagen reduced the number of swollen and tender joints compared to placebo. Four patients in the collagen group saw all symptoms disappear.
A study of 147 athletes with joint pain found that supplementation with hydrolyzed collagen for 24 weeks significantly reduced their pain. In another study adults took 2 grams of collagen daily for 70 days. Those who took it had a significant reduction in joint pain and were better able to engage in physical activity than those who did not take it.
Collagen increases hair growth. In a study of women with thinning hair, 180 days of collagen supplementation resulted in improvements in hair volume, scalp coverage, shine and thickness. Skin moisture and smoothness also improved.
Collagen could prevent bone loss. Bones are made mostly of collagen, which gives them structure and keeps them strong. In one study, women took either a calcium supplement combined with 5 grams of collagen or a calcium supplement with no collagen daily for 12 months. By the end of the study, women taking the calcium and collagen had significantly lower blood levels of proteins that promote bone breakdown than those taking only the calcium.
Collagen could boost muscle mass, especially in the elderly who experience sarcopenia, the loss of muscle that comes with aging. In one study 27 frail men took 15 grams of collagen while participating in an exercise program daily for 12 weeks. Compared to men who exercised but did not take collagen, they gained significantly more muscle mass and strength.
Collagen may help heal a leaky gut. Collagen is high in the amino acid glutamine, long known as a gut healer. Collagen also contains the amino acids glycine and proline, both of which aid in healing stomach ulcers. In addition, collagen helps regulate stomach acid secretion.
When buying collagen powders or capsules you’ll see the terms collagen peptides (all collagen contains peptides) and hydrolyzed collagen. Hydrolyzing means the collagen had been broken down to make it more easily absorbed.
Ruth’s currently carries several lines of collagen, some combined with turmeric and aimed specifically at joint pain, and others combined with silica and vitamin C, targeted toward skin health. Some of the powders are flavored, and some collagen supplements are available in capsule form.