Taking collagen peptides has become a popular way to improve your skin’s appearance, nails, joint function, and gut health. At some point, you may have come across a fitness or health influencer promoting collagen supplements and raving about their benefits.
Collagen peptides are supported by many studies showing how they can be beneficial for overall health and wellness. This article discusses the basics of collagen peptides, reasons to include collagen proteins in your daily routine, their possible side effects, and how to take them.
Collagen peptides, also known as “hydrolyzed collagen” or “collagen hydrolysate,” are an easy-to-absorb version of whole collagen. Your body naturally produces collagen, which makes up your skin, hair, and other tissues.
By taking collagen that has undergone hydrolysis — meaning that it has been broken down into peptides (short chains of amino acids) for easier digestion and absorption — you can enjoy its anti-aging effects (*).
Collagen peptides are available in various forms, such as powders, capsules, and drinks. Manufacturers extract them from bovine (cows), porcine (pigs), and marine (fish) sources. They’re particularly high in the amino acids glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline, which serve as the building blocks of our skin, bones, and cartilage (*).
By taking a collagen peptide supplement (alone or with a co-factor such as vitamin C), your body receives an abundance of amino acids needed to support and strengthen your body.
For instance, women over the age of 20 may start supplementing with animal collagen to slow down the signs of skin aging (*). On the other hand, those who lift weights and exercise frequently may use it to preserve or build muscle mass and improve strength (*).
There’s no shortage of studies showing what collagen peptides can do. You’ll learn more about them in the section below.
Not sure why you might want to consume collagen peptides as part of your regimen? Here are some advantages backed by research.
1. Hydrates the skin
It’s not surprising that collagen is used for skincare, especially when it comes to improving skin hydration. Aged skin is more prone to dryness, along with other changes, such as decreased elasticity, fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging (*).
One trial showed that moderate doses of collagen peptides are able to produce significant changes in the skin in as little as 12 weeks (*).
In the study, healthy women who were at least 35 years old received 2.5 grams of collagen peptides along with vitamin C, zinc, and biotin (which are collagen co-factors) (*).
After 12 weeks, those who took collagen experienced an improvement not just with their skin hydration, but also their skin elasticity, density, and roughness (*).
Moreover, a systematic review of randomized, placebo-controlled trials in humans found that using collagen supplements (short-term or long-term) is beneficial for wound healing and skin aging, and that they’re generally safe (*).
2. Supports strong and pain-free joints
Joint health can be a problem among older people and individuals who overuse them. The latter includes athletes and those performing repetitive tasks that place constant stress on their joints, leading to overuse.
Since collagen is part of your connective tissue, it plays an important role in preserving your joints. Collagen peptides can be a convenient and healthy way to reduce joint stiffness, pain, and improve joint function.
For example, a 24-week study discovered that athletes who received 10 grams of collagen hydrolysate experienced a reduction in joint pain regardless of whether they were at rest, walking, standing, and lifting (*).
This study highlights the value of collagen as a dietary supplement to mitigate joint deterioration in individuals who are more likely to experience it.
3. Builds strong bones
Collagen is found in your bones. Type 1 Collagen, in particular, comprises 90% of the total collagen in bone tissue (*).
Bone density and strength decreases with age. In fact, after the age of 50, bone breaks down faster than it forms, which speeds up bone loss. Women, in particular, are more vulnerable since their bones are smaller and estrogen levels fall during menopause (*).
In one study, a group of 131 postmenopausal women with low levels of bone mineral density were administered either 5 grams of collagen protein or a placebo for a 12-month trial (*).
At the end of the trial, the collagen group showed improvement in bone mineral density, along with a favorable shift in bone markers, which indicated increased bone formation and reduced bone degradation (*).
Thankfully, most supplements contain Type 1 Collagen, which is specific for bone health aside from skin health.
4. Decreases the frequency of broken nails
Nails become dry and brittle due to increasing age, if not due to nutritional deficiencies or a health condition (*).
While research on collagen for nail health isn’t abundant, there’s evidence showing that collagen peptides improve nails by reducing the likelihood of brittleness.
One study in 25 individuals found that taking 2.5 grams of collagen peptides once daily for 24 weeks increased nail growth by 12%. In addition, 64% of the participants experienced an improvement in nail brittleness and a decrease in the frequency of broken nails (*).
What’s also interesting is that 80% of the participants were completely satisfied with the collagen treatment (*).
5. Helps control your appetite
Those who are looking for a supplement to support weight loss may benefit from collagen peptides. For starters, collagen is a protein — and protein increases satiety or the feeling of fullness.
This explains why foods, such as eggs and meat (which are sources of amino acids that form collagen) help modulate your food intake (*).
On top of controlling appetite, eating more protein helps to increase thermogenesis. What this means is that you’ll end up burning more calories (*).
So, aside from consuming protein-rich foods, it’s a good idea to supplement with collagen peptides, especially if you have higher protein needs or are following a high protein diet plan.
6. Improves muscle recovery post-workout
Exercise creates small tears in your muscle fibers. Also, you’ve probably heard of DOMS or delayed onset muscle soreness, which may appear 12 to 14 hours following a workout. Such workouts include doing deep squats, running downhill, and eccentric movements in general (*).
While whey protein is the better choice when it comes to muscle recovery, collagen peptides can be an alternative if you don’t have whey.
A 2019 study examining collagen peptides found that those who took collagen peptides experienced reduced soreness at 48 hours post-exercise. The participants consumed 20 grams of collagen peptides a week before and two days after the exercise (*).
7. May help with leaky gut
Leaky gut refers to increased intestinal permeability, which means that your intestinal barrier is impared. Unfortunately, too much intestinal permeability leads to other gut problems and organ disorders (*).
Evidence suggests that collagen peptides may support gut health. According to a 2017 study, marine-derived collagen peptides improved intestinal tight junction integrity. These tight junctions in our intestinal cells serve as an essential barrier to molecules that cause inflammation (* , *).
Although collagen supplements support gut health, it’s still important to consult with your doctor if you’re taking other gut supplements, such as probiotics.
Collagen peptides are generally safe for most people (*). However, you still need to be aware of certain factors that may lead to unusual symptoms.
For example, those with fish allergy may experience an allergic reaction towards marine-derived collagen. Symptoms include nausea, hives, and difficulty breathing. In that case, you may want to choose grass-fed bovine collagen instead.
Moreover, note that collagen is not a complete source of protein. In particular, it lacks the amino acid tryptophan, which can be obtained from foods like chicken, pork, cheese, nuts, and seeds. This means that collagen peptides shouldn’t be your only protein source to avoid tryptophan deficiency (*).
It’s also worth mentioning that not all collagen is animal-based. Vegan collagen, in particular, does not provide collagen peptides, but rather micronutrients that act as “collagen boosters.”
When taking collagen peptides, be sure to read the label to know the recommended dosage per day. Most studies usually suggest consuming between 2.5 grams to 20 grams of hydrolyzed collagen daily.
If you have allergies or are trying to avoid certain ingredients that might interact with your current medications, check the label on the collagen product.
Also, pregnant and breastfeeding women should be careful about the supplements they’re taking — collagen or not. There’s no doubt that protein is vital during pregnancy, but you should talk with your healthcare provider before taking any supplement.
You can take collagen in the morning or at night while following the recommended daily dose. Collagen capsules can be taken with a glass of water. Powders, on the other hand, can be mixed with plain water or added to your coffee or smoothie (depending on its flavor).
If you want to boost the benefits of collagen peptides, try incorporating collagen-enhancing ingredients. For instance, vitamin C stimulates collagen synthesis. In addition, it helps remove oxidants from environmental pollutants and UV sun exposure (*).
You may find various suggestions on taking collagen, but the best method is the one that fits your lifestyle and needs.
Read below to explore answers to common questions on collagen peptides:
How long should I be taking collagen peptides before I see results?
Most studies show that you can start experiencing positive changes in as little as 4 weeks. These changes become more prominent around 24 weeks or 6 months. Of course, other factors may affect how soon you’ll see results. This includes your nutrition and lifestyle habits.
How do I store collagen peptides?
It’s best to keep your collagen peptides supplement in a cool and dry area. Proper storage should help the supplement stay fresh and last longer. Your collagen of choice should include storage tips on its container, so be sure to read the instructions.
What’s the difference between collagen and collagen peptides?
Collagen differs from collagen peptides in that collagen peptides have undergone processing, which allows your body to absorb them better. In a nutshell, one is a whole form of collagen and has low bioavailability, while the other is a broken down form and is highly bioavailable.
Is it safe to take collagen peptides everyday?
Taking collagen peptides daily should not cause unusual symptoms, unless the supplement itself contains ingredients (apart from collagen) that trigger negative reactions. Also, since collagen peptides are a form of supplement, they should not replace a whole foods diet, which includes various protein sources like meat, eggs, poultry, and nuts.
Is 40 too late to start taking collagen?
If you’re in your forties and you still have not taken collagen, know that it’s not too late. Anytime is a great time to supplement with hydrolyzed collagen — although it’s a good idea to get started in your 20s since collagen in the skin decreases by 1% after the age of 20.
Collagen peptides are a research-backed supplement that help preserve your body’s collagen levels. You can take them as a capsule, powder, or ready-made drink depending on what you buy.
The abundance of the amino acids glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline in collagen makes it particularly useful for skin hydration, joint pain, and workout recovery, among others.
Planning to incorporate collagen into your regular routine? Before purchasing one, know if you’re allergic to fish or any possible interactions if you’re also taking prescription medications.
All things considered, hydrolyzed collagen can be a healthy part of your lifestyle. Get started with Perfect Keto’s grass-fed collagen powder. It’s dairy-free, sugar-free, and comes in 7 different flavors.
Zdzieblik D et al. Collagen peptide supplementation in combination with resistance training improves body composition and increases muscle strength in elderly sarcopenic men: a randomised controlled trial. 2015 October 28