Collagen is one of the most abundant proteins found in humans and animals.
Collagen supplements or hydrolyzed collagen or collagen peptides are generally obtained from animal sources such as beef, pork, and fish skin or bones. There are a limited number of studies to provide concrete scientific evidence for the various health benefits claimed regarding these supplements. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve or evaluate any of these supplements for their efficacy. Although collagen can be obtained from dietary sources such as bone broth and chicken, some experts claim that the hydrolyzed form of collagen in the supplements is better absorbed than the collagen present in the diet. The supplements come in various forms such as powders, capsules, and tablets. They contain various amino acids that are building blocks for healthy skin, hair, joints, and bones. The benefit provided may vary depending on the types of collagen present in the supplements. The general health benefits of collagen supplements include:
- Healthy skin
- Healthy hair and nails
- Improved muscle mass
- Better bone health and reduced bone loss
- Healthy joints
- Improved heart health
- Weight management
- Improved gut health
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What is collagen?
Collagen is one of the most abundant proteins found in humans and animals. It includes various structural proteins found in the skin, muscles, and bones. Collagen is essential for maintaining the health of skin, muscles, joints, and tendons. The body loses collagen as we age, resulting in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, hair fall, damaged bones, and joints and a decline in the health of various organs including the heart. Studies have suggested that women may lose up to one-third of their body collagen by the time they reach menopause. People may take several collagen supplements to compensate for the loss of this structural protein with age. Collagen supplements are available in various forms including powders, capsules, and tablets. These supplements contain collagen in an easily absorbed form called hydrolyzed collagen. Hydrolyzation means the collagen is already broken into smaller protein segments or peptides for easier absorption. Collagen may also be obtained from various dietary sources such as bone broth, fish, chicken, and eggs.
Are collagen supplements safe?
There are a limited number of studies conducted to support the safety and efficacy of collagen supplements. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also does not approve or evaluate any of these supplements for their efficacy. Experts suggest that these supplements may be contaminated with heavy metals such as mercury and titanium.
Most people do not report any side effects because of collagen supplements. Some may experience minor side effects such as:
- Skin rashes
- Mild diarrhea
- Fullness or heaviness in the abdomen
Are there any vegetarian or vegan sources of collagen?
Plants contain several nutrients called phytonutrients that can help your body make collagen. Studies have reported that collagen supplements are not essential for overall health and vegetarians and vegans can avoid them. Scientists have developed vegan collagen from genetically modified bacteria and yeast. If vegan collagen is not available, one may turn to these food sources:
- Soy and soy products such as tofu and soya milk
- Green-leafy vegetables
- Bell peppers
- White tea
- Herbs such as Chinese knotweed, horsetail, and ashwagandha
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Medically Reviewed on 12/18/2020