Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body, helping build nearly everything from your bones to your skin. It’s an essential component of connective tissue that provides strength, structure, and resilience throughout your body. It also creates the “glue” that holds cells in place within tissues.
Your body naturally produces collagen every day, but production gradually declines during the aging process. On the outside, the signs of diminished collagen production can show up as fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin (1). On the inside, the cartilage in joints can begin to lose its strength and resilience, impacting comfort and mobility (2).
Supplementing with collagen daily can benefit your body in more ways than one! Here are five science-backed benefits of collagen.
1. Promotes Healthy Skin
Type I collagen is the building block of our skin’s structure, making up around 80% of our skin’s dermal layer. Our bodies produce collagen naturally, but its production begins to decrease as we age. Collagen peptide supplementation has been shown to be beneficial for maintaining healthy, hydrated skin (3). Studies also show a benefit for improving collagen synthesis in the deep layers of the skin, helping reduce fine lines and wrinkles (4, 5).
2. Supports Joint and Bone Health
Approximately 60% of cartilage and 80% of the human skeleton is made of collagen. As we age and our collagen production decreases, bone density and cartilage cushions also begin to decrease as their predominantly collagen structure receives less and less collagen over time. However, research suggests that consuming collagen peptides may nutritionally support and benefit our bodies by maintaining bone density, strength, joint health, and improved joint comfort (6, 7). In one placebo-controlled study, athletes reported benefits for joint comfort and range of motion after consuming 5 grams of collagen peptides daily for 12 weeks (8).
3. Boosts Your Immune System
Healthy skin is part of a healthy immune system. Our skin plays a role in our immune system by acting as a protective barrier, and our bones help to regulate immune cell activity. Within the dermal layer of our skin is the extracellular matrix (ECM), helping to keep the epidermis strong. The ECM is also where immune cells work to regulate a variety of functions, including immune response (10). Like skin, bones are largely made up of collagen. Deep within our bones is the birthplace of all immune cells — the bone marrow. The bone and immune cells work together to maintain a healthy immune system (10).
4. Improves Muscle Mass
While muscle is not made up of as much collagen as other tissues in our bodies, studies have shown that supplementing with collagen in conjunction with resistance training may improve muscle mass and body composition (11). One hypothesis behind this observation is that collagen is made up of amino acids, including arginine and glycine, which are substrates for creatine production in the body (11). Creatine is the predominant source of immediate energy stored in muscle tissue and plays a key role in muscle mass, strength, and exercise by fueling our muscles. Other studies have shown that collagen improves the structure and composition of the extracellular matrix in muscles (10, 11). While scientists are uncertain about the exact mechanism for collagen’s impact on muscle mass, additional studies continue to show positive results.
5. Provides Flexibility for Arteries
Just like with other tissues, the veins and arteries in our cardiovascular system are mostly made of collagen, helping to make them flexible for blood to travel throughout our bodies. Age, poor diet, and other lifestyle and environmental factors can negatively impact the health and condition of our cardiovascular system over time, causing the vascular walls to become rigid and the surfaces to fray. Research has shown that collagen peptide supplementation may significantly improve existing vascular wall damage and blood vessel elasticity in healthy individuals (12).
With all the benefits, it should come as no surprise that collagen is found in a wide array of products, ranging from foods and dietary supplements to cosmetics and skincare products. Now you just need to decide which collagen product is right for you!