Collagen is a compound found in your skin and in the connective tissues that make up your tendons, ligaments, muscles, and more. It’s the most abundant protein in the body. However, over time, aging breaks down the collagen in your body and makes it more difficult to produce more.
Collagen helps provide structure to your skin and fortify your bones. It may also relieve joint pain. Because of its potential health benefits, collagen powder has become a popular supplement. Made from animal tissues, this nutritional powder is typically hydrolyzed, which means the proteins have already been broken down, making it easier for your body to absorb it.
Collagen helps your body perform a wide range of functions, from repairing skin to strengthening bones. It’s aptly named after the Greek word “kólla,” meaning “glue.” Collagen's versatile fibers hold your muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, organs, and skin together.
In addition, collagen can provide health benefits like:
Improved Skin Health
Collagen plays a major role in the health of your skin by providing elasticity and hydration. However, as you age, your body slows its creation of collagen. The result is dry skin and an increase in wrinkles.
Collagen powder can help decrease the speed of aging by minimizing both dryness and wrinkles. Studies show significantly higher skin elasticity, which can reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. Collagen may also improve the hydration of skin and its overall appearance.
Reduction of Joint Pain
Collagen contributes to the strength of the cartilage in your body. Cartilage is a rubbery material that acts as a shock absorber between your joints. Healthy cartilage reduces friction and protects your joints as you move.
When you age, the reduction of collagen in your body increases the risk of osteoarthritis. However, growing evidence shows that collagen supplements — like collagen powder — may help alleviate joint pain and improve joint function in people who have osteoarthritis.
Increased Muscle Mass
Collagen is essential to the health and function of your muscles. As collagen decreases with age, you may experience an increased risk of sarcopenia, which refers to the decrease of muscle mass due to aging and inactivity.
When combined with resistance training, collagen supplements like collagen powder can lead to a significant increase in muscle mass in people who experience sarcopenia. Collagen powder can also help improve muscle strength and motor control.
Reduction of Bone Loss
Your bones are primarily composed of collagen. Healthy levels of collagen keep them strong. As levels of collagen drop with age, you may be at increased risk of losing bone mass. This is known as osteoporosis and often leads to a higher occurrence of bone fractures or breaks, especially in women.
Research indicates that collagen powder reduces bone loss in people who experience osteoporosis and loss of bone density.
Improved Heart Health
Collagen helps keep the shape of your arteries and blood vessels. When you lack collagen, your arteries may weaken. Fragile blood vessels increase the risk of atherosclerosis, which can lead to heart attack or stroke.
Studies show that collagen powder can help reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and keep arteries healthier.
There are no documented health risks associated with taking collagen powder. However, some collagen powders are made with common food allergens, like shellfish or eggs, so it’s best to do your research about a supplement’s ingredients before consuming.
Amounts and Dosage
Most collagen powder is hydrolyzed. Studies recommend that adults consume between 2.5 to 15 grams of collagen per day to enjoy its health benefits.
You can consume collagen powder by mixing it into smoothies, shakes, baked goods, or even your coffee or tea.