By now, you’ve likely heard about the health benefits of collagen. But what scientific evidence is there to back up the claims?
There are seven main health benefits of collagen supported by research. You’ll learn how collagen can help your brain, heart, gut, joints, and more. You’ll also discover the best sources and types of collagen and how to easily include it in your keto diet plan.
What Is Collagen and Why Is It Important?
To understand why collagen is vital to your health, you should know four things:
- It’s the most abundant protein in your body. It’s also one of the most vital proteins for your body to function[*].
- Collagen is a structural protein. It acts as the glue that holds your body together. Since it’s a major part of your connective tissue, collagen maintains the structure and integrity of your skin, muscle tissue, bones, and tendons[*].
- It sends out important signals to your cells. These signals can combat inflammation and repair damaged cells[*].
- Your collagen production declines naturally as you get older. As such, you may need to take supplements[*].
For more on collagen and how it works, check out this guide to collagen.
7 Health Benefits of Collagen
You might be familiar with collagen as a popular ingredient in beauty products and treatments. Collagen has long been touted for its ability to hydrate your skin, minimize fine lines, reduce the appearance of stretch marks, and promote hair growth.
But before you start slathering on the cream to replenish your collagen levels, you should know that topically applying collagen won’t give you the benefits on this list.
Why? Because you need to consume collagen to capture its health benefits. When ingested, collagen can impact your brain, heart, and digestive system, but the proteins are too big to penetrate your skin cells. Those topical collagen and elastin creams are really just marketing hype.
Pro tip: When taking a collagen dietary supplement, take vitamin C with it to better absorb its nutrients.
#1: Supports Healthy Brain Function
One type of collagen (known as collagen IV) may prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. In one study, collagen IV protected the brain against amyloid-beta proteins — believed to be one of the causes of Alzheimer’s[*].
Amyloid-beta refers to the type of amino acid that clumps together, forming a plaque which is commonly found in Alzheimer’s patients’ brains[*].
By increasing your collagen intake, you can create a form of protection for your brain that combats the same amyloid-beta proteins that attack neurons and cause Alzheimer’s disease. Before this study, scientists knew how collagen, cartilage, and muscle were intertwined, but they didn’t know neurons in the brain were also rich in collagen IV [*].
#2: Promotes Heart Health
Collagen may help lower your cholesterol and prevent heart disease. During one study, participants took collagen twice a day for six months to see if it helped prevent plaque buildup in their arteries.
Here’s what happened to the participants as a result[*]:
- Their LDL to HDL cholesterol ratio reduced significantly, which is good news since a higher ratio increases your risk for heart disease
- Collagen prevented and treated the buildup of plaque in their arteries
Plaque buildup is what clogs your arteries, preventing blood from flowing to other organs. Collagen may help prevent this buildup in your blood vessels, protecting against heart attack and stroke[*].
#3: Supports Healthy Gut Function
Irritable bowel syndrome (or IBS) and leaky gut syndrome are two painful conditions in which the digestive tract and stomach lining become inflamed and irritated. Nutrients and toxic substances “leak” back into the bloodstream instead of being processed out. Stress, poor diet, prescription medications, too much alcohol, and a sedentary lifestyle may contribute to these gastrointestinal disorders.
This negatively impacts your digestive health, causing uncomfortable side effects like bloating, fatigue, upset stomach, diarrhea, constipation, and malnutrition. Rather than being absorbed, vitamins and minerals pass right through your system.
Bone broth, which is an incredible source of collagen, is one of the best natural ways to alleviate leaky gut symptoms. Studies show IBS patients tested low for collagen IV[*]. Broth contains bioavailable collagen, which means your body can quickly use this protein and the other vitamins, minerals, and important amino acids (the building blocks of protein) that come with it. Even if you don’t suffer from IBS symptoms, collagen is an excellent supplement to take for gut health.
#4: Eases Joint and Knee Pain
You don’t need to be an athlete to experience joint pain. Whether your job keeps you chained to your desk or you’re on your feet all day, joint pain is something that may come up from time to time. Some people are so sensitive that a sharp change in weather is enough to stiffen up their joints.
Collagen may be able to provide natural relief. In a 24-week study, researchers gave collagen supplements to athletes without any joint diseases to see how it would affect both their cartilage and pain levels[*].
The results showed that collagen reduced pain while standing, lifting heavy objects, and even at rest. While more research is still needed, this study supports the possibility that collagen may help slow down joint deterioration in individuals, such as those with arthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.
In another study, scientists experimented to see how a collagen supplement would affect knee pain (specifically, osteoarthritis pain). After 180 days, participants had less pain and lowered scores on the osteoarthritis index as well as reduced stiffness and physical limitations[*].
#5: Supports Your Back
If you suffer from back pain you may find relief with collagen. In one study, 200 participants (over the age of 50) with upper or lower back pain took 1,200 milligrams of collagen a day (or a placebo).
By the six-month mark, over 20% of the collagen group saw a significant improvement in their back pain after taking collagen every day[*].
#6: Supports Healthy Skin
Along with drinking lots of water and limiting your sun exposure, you probably know the claims about collagen’s anti-aging properties. In one recent study, scientists wanted to see how collagen would affect collagen peptides in the skin. The study observed 69 women between the ages of 35 and 55 for eight weeks. Women who took a collagen supplement showed noticeable improvement in skin elasticity compared to women who took a placebo[*].
What’s even more interesting is the older women in the collagen group had more noticeable improvements, possibly because collagen production decreases with age, leaving greater room for improvement. Scientists also noticed positive changes in the participant’s skin’s moisture and dryness levels, however, it was not statistically significant enough to report. Another study found that oral supplementation with collagen improved skin hydration levels in just eight weeks [*].
Here’s an important finding to note: Researchers discovered the changes in the participants’ skin only when hydrolyzed collagen was consumed [*]. Why? When you ingest this form of collagen, your gut immediately absorbs it and sends it straight to your joints and skin through your bloodstream.
#7: Helps Brittle, Broken Nails
Collagen may help fortify your nails so they don’t become brittle and prone to breaking. In one study, 25 participants were given one 2.5 gram dose of collagen peptide each day for 24 weeks. Here’s what they found[*]:
- 12% increase in nail growth
- 42% drop in broken nails
- 64% overall improvement in formerly brittle nails
What’s more, 88% of the participants also reported these positive changes were visible in as little as four weeks.
Best Sources of Collagen
Should you buy a collagen supplement? Or can you simply get it from the foods you eat?
The truth is you don’t need to fork over hundreds of dollars for collagen supplementation — you can find it in healthy foods like bone broth. Broth is one of the richest sources of collagen and it’s easy to make your own healthy keto version too.
Here are some other foods that may help your body create more collagen:
- Wild salmon
- Leafy greens like kale and spinach
- Chia seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
For a complete list, check out this guide on the top food sources of collagen.
Keep in mind, your body is not getting collagen directly from the foods. Rather, these foods may help your body produce more of it on its own. Collagen supplementation is the only way to absorb collagen directly.
Perfect Keto Collagen
This Keto Collagen powder is packed with 10 grams of collagen peptides and contains 10 grams of protein per scoop. Each scoop is equivalent to the amount of collagen you’d find in two cups of bone broth. Plus, there’s MCT oil to boost your energy levels as well.
Thanks to this and the low carb count (just 1 gram), this protein powder won’t spike your blood sugar levels like some others on the market. And while other collagen powder may be made from random animal parts, Perfect Keto Collagen contains 100% grass-fed collagen from U.S. cattle. You also won’t find any artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
To get started, add a scoop to your morning or mid-day drink –it’s especially good in coffee — for an extra boost of amino acids. You can also consume it before, during, or after your workout for help with muscle synthesis and recovery.
Get Started With Collagen Today
Consuming collagen benefits your body in more ways than one. It can help:
- Protect your brain
- Keep your heart healthy
- Improve symptoms of IBS and leaky gut syndrome
- Increase joint health and lessen back pain
Now that you understand the benefits of adding collagen to your diet, it’s time to monitor how much you’re taking.
For the most efficient solution, consider adding keto-friendly collagen protein powder to your daily routine and you’ll cross yet another healthy to-do item off your list.