As recently as last year, the only collagen benefits I knew of were the plastic surgery kind. In all seriousness, collagen supplementation hadn’t even entered my mind. However, as a fitness blogger, I get introduced to a lot of things I hadn’t considered. (Some of these are good; some are very, very bad.) One of the good things I heard about (and subsequently researched) is collagen. Then it started popping up everywhere.
I’m not even kidding. Collagen benefits haunted me: in CrossFit blogs, in running blogs, everywhere. We don’t get enough collagen in our daily diet. This is why CrossFitters are drinking bone broth; bone broth has collagen. Our stripped-down lean meats and egg whites have not nearly enough to support overall health, particularly if you’re, um, not exactly a spring chicken. (Sheepishly peers through the fingers I’m using to cover my eyes.) It doesn’t help that our meat is mostly factory farmed. Our ancestors were able to suck out bone marrow and eat as much of the animal as they could. We are not so lucky in that sense (although we are quite lucky to be able to purchase our meat pre-butchered and wrapped neatly in plastic).
Anyway, I decided to do some intensive research on collagen benefits. All the cool kids on Instagram were posting collagen smoothies and collagen water. But why?
- Collagen can help reduce inflammation. A study conducted by the State University of Campinas in Brazil found that a diet with increased glycine (which includes collagen) could help protect tendons from re-rupturing themselves. This is due to collagen’s anti-inflammatory properties. I read this to mean that collagen supplementation is great if you’re injury-prone like me and have a rap sheet on your ankle.
- Collagen can increase muscle mass. A University of Freiburg study of elderly men found that supplementing with collagen increased the men’s muscle mass while participating in a resistance training program. The subjects who were given collagen peptides showed a significant increase in mass, compared to their placebo-receiving counterparts. If you’re trying to build muscle, collagen can help.
- Collagen can help you heal faster. In a study published in Adv Skin Wound Care, patients with pressure ulcers received a collagen supplement. Those patients healed significantly faster than their counterparts.
- Collagen can reduce joint pain. In my mind, this collagen benefit stands out above all the rest. A Penn State University study evaluated college athletes who received collagen supplementation and those that didn’t. The athletes that did take collagen supplements reported significant pain reduction when lifting, standing, at rest, walking, and carrying objects. If you run, if you have creaky knees and worry about them, collagen supplements may reduce your pain.
- Collagen can help you sleep better. Raise your hand if you fall asleep the minute your head hits the pillow and you sleep through the night peacefully. If that’s you, you can skip this. A Japanese study of sleep-restricted patients found that those who took collagen were less sleepy and fatigued during the day. Collagen supplements might be the alternative to an extra cup or three of coffee.
- Collagen can improve your skin’s health. Aging isn’t fun – I’ve noticed some sun damage despite my sunscreen obsession, and tiny wrinkles are digging their claws deep around my eyes. However, collagen can (and does) help. According to a study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, subjects that took a collagen peptide supplement had more hydrated skin after eight weeks. The group also had firmer-looking skin from the supplements. It’s a superficial reason, true, but it’s always nice to like what you see in the mirror. Collagen benefits your skin just as much as your body.
How to Get More Collagen
I don’t think there’s any way you can test to see if you’re getting enough collagen. And as with anything else, talk to your doctor before you go crazy with new supplements, and use your good judgment and common sense.
Affiliate links ahead! That said, you can get more collagen in your diet without having to make a pot of bone broth every week. Several companies make collagen supplements, but my favorites by far are from Vital Proteins. Vital Proteins has a great line of collagen supplements, everything from protein to beauty waters. Yes, beauty waters! Vital Proteins sent me a bunch of their products to try, and here’s my rundown of them:
Marine Collagen Peptides: This one was my “gateway” into the world of collagen supplements. It’s colorless, flavorless, and can be added to a protein shake.
Collagen Peptides: Much like the Marine Collagen Peptides, the Collagen Peptides are colorless, flavorless, and perfect for adding to a shake. (That’s what I do all the time.) You can buy these as stick packs and take them with you everywhere.
Lavender Lemon Beauty Water: I have a Sunday afternoon ritual where I take my journal, a book, and a cold drink outside for a few minutes of peace. I’ve started bringing the Lavender Lemon Beauty Water with me; it’s like a fancy spa water that I can enjoy while I plan my week.
Beef Bone Broth Collagen: Also flavorless and colorless, if you’re jonesing for the collagen in bone broth, this one fits the bill.
My favorites really are flavorless because I like to just add my collagen to my shaker, although the beauty water is definitely growing on me rapidly.
Collagen Benefits I’ve Noticed
I’ll end this by telling you about the collagen benefits I’ve noticed since I started taking Vital Proteins supplements. No, I’m not free of joint pain, sadly. But it has lessened. My skin looks a little clearer. But the biggest change has been my fingernails. For years, my nails have been broken and stubby, unless I get them done. Even after I stopped biting my nails, I couldn’t stop them from breaking. While they’re not super-strong now, they are still much stronger, and I can even paint them darker colors without looking ridiculous.
My own trial has shown that collagen benefits you in some way. Have you tried collagen supplements? What’s your favorite?