Collagen powder is one of the many offshoots that have come along in recent years to harness and supplement the benefits of this protein beyond your daily diet. People turn to it for a number of reasons, from beauty to physical wellness.
Collagen comes from the skin and connective tissues of various living things. The most prevalent sources are mammals. That’s why powders and other supplements are mostly taken from the skin, bones, and connective tissue of cattle, horses, fish, or pigs.
Collagen’s basic function is to act as the connective tissue in joints. It keeps bones from rubbing together — a situation that leads to stiffness and pains, particularly if you suffer from osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. The more collagen your body puts to use, the more “cushion” is provided.
The good news is the body creates collagen without you having to do a single thing to convince it. The bad news: that collagen production slows down over time and it can lead to everything we have just mentioned and then some.
“And then some,” because once your mobility slows down and it becomes harder to exercise or maintain the slightest activity level, it’s easier for chronic and more serious illnesses to take hold.
In the following article, we’ll be discussing ways you can fight back against this natural reduction in collagen. Naturally, collagen powder will be the focus, but we’ll also be discussing other sources and lifestyle techniques that could be beneficial. Let’s begin!
What Is Collagen Powder?
A recent market report from Grandview Research concerning the global health supplement industry reports an industry expected to be worth over a quarter of a trillion dollars by the year 2024.
While many of these supplements have claims that are still under clinical review, users are quite clearly embracing the idea that there may be value outside of traditional medicines.
Collagen powder is a major player because it is an alternative source for collagen intake for those who have difficulty getting it through their traditional diet. These consumers realize the importance of collagen, but they don’t want to read every single label of every single thing they eat to ensure they’re getting the appropriate amount.
You can use collagen powder in a variety of ways — many of which we’ll be discussing later in this article — but the central question also is the reason it’s so popular. And that question is…
What Are the Key Benefits of Using Collagen Powder?
The following list is not meant to be an exhaustive one. It’s just designed to show you why people are using collagen powder and thinking more about increasing their intake in whatever form that they can.
We’ve isolated 12 key benefits altogether. Let’s examine.
1. Collagen Powder Provides Support for Your Joints
We’ve already touched on this briefly, but let’s look a little deeper at the problem. The Centers for Disease Control report that “From 2013–2015, an estimated 54.4 million US adults (22.7 percent) annually had ever been told by a doctor that they had some form of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus, or fibromyalgia.”
All of these issues can cause aches, pains, and stiffness in your joints. While an increase in collagen intake isn’t going to rid you of the underlying conditions, it might help to ease some of the symptoms that you experience as they relate to joints. And mobility is so vital to your continued health as you grow older.
But don’t take our word for it. A 2009 study published through the International Journal of Medical Sciences notes that subjects treated with indentured type II collagen (UC-II) “showed significant enhancement in daily activities suggesting an improvement in their quality of life.”
If “aging gracefully” means being able to go for walks, attend social functions, and play with your grandchildren, then you can’t afford to let your collagen intake slip.
2. It Helps Reduce the Aging Process for Skin
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, there are several ways to accelerate the aging, weathered look of skin over time. These include too much exposure to the sun, smoking, repetitive facial expressions, alcohol intake, unhealthy dieting, and poor hygiene/upkeep. The Academy recommends the use of facial moisturizers and gentle skincare products.
Most of these products contain collagen. Similarly, collagen injections have been used to enhance plumpness of skin and work out the wrinkles your skin naturally develops.
Of course, the Internet is full of images and stories of where dependence on injections can go horribly wrong.
You will be better served to pursue dietary and supplemental sources for collagen, and collagen powder is one of the better choices. It addresses all of the issues that naturally-produced and diet-consumed collagen do.
Those include the following:
Your skin should be a priority as you age because what you see in the mirror is often a reflection of how you feel inside. If you’re maintaining your skin’s look and feel, then it will be easier to carry those efforts over to physical fitness and overall well-being.
Cellulite, or the dimples that space between pockets of stored fat, can be unsightly. But collagen powder and other collagen-based products have been known to help assist.
3. It Can Help Fight Cellulite
No one ever died from cellulite, but the condition can put a serious damper on the summertime and lead to self-esteem issues that, in turn, may foster anxiety and depression.
It’s most commonly associated with weight gain, such as what naturally occurs when a woman goes through pregnancy. The effect is “dimpled” skin in specific regions around where the weight gain was most apparent.
Men are not immune from developing cellulite either. In fact, it’s quite prevalent as activity levels drop and the body begins to store fat. The “plumping” factor that motivates people to inject collagen into their lips also may help smooth out many of these areas in time.
If injections aren’t your thing, incorporating collagen powder into your daily routines can be a helpful alternative. Exercise and dieting can help as well, but one thing you need to remember: cellulite and fat are not the same things. The cellulite is the dimples formed in between stored areas of fat.
Therefore, your goal for getting rid of it shouldn’t rely solely on weight loss. Burning fat and toning muscle groups are essentials.
But as you’ll see later in this article, collagen powder can help in those areas, too.
4. It Might Enhance the Thickness of Your Hair
According to hair loss stats from the Belgravia Centre, hair loss is common in both men and women. Approximately 50 percent of women deal with the issue throughout their lifetime while a staggering 65 percent of men experience it by the age of 60.
Most of the issues related to hair loss have to do with a gradual thinning of the hair that grows more severe over time.
Maintaining the thickness of hair becomes vital if you don’t want to end up dealing with the ramifications. But how do you stop it from happening?
There are many companies pitching uniquely configured solutions, but the results vary greatly across the board on the anecdotal side, and clinically, there is even less to hang your hat on.
What we do know is that collagen helps the skin maintain elasticity and vibrancy. And we also know that hair is nothing more than an extension of your skin cells.
That’s why you see most shampoos and conditioners using it in their recipes. But collagen powder is an equally effective source to consider.
5. It Could Assist in Clearing Up Nail Disorders
Taking that last point further, your nails also are composed of skin, your body’s largest organ. And like the rest of your body’s skin cells, the nails can be vulnerable to fungal infection and other disorders. You can injure your nails as well, making them susceptible to further infection.
The problem can grow much worse the older you get. That’s because your bones and connective tissues aren’t the only casualties of the slowdown in natural collagen production, as evidenced in this 2011 study.
Increasing your collagen intake may serve to counterbalance this. By strengthening the nail, you address one of the core symptoms that lead to further deterioration.
And one side note before moving further: while most nail conditions and disorders aren’t detrimental to your overall health, do consider seeing a doctor about them. There are potentially cancerous conditions that can fly under the radar as they bear similarities to nail injuries — think subungual hematomas, or the purple discoloration that can occur when you smack a finger or toenail with a hammer.
6. It’s Been Linked with Boosting the Immune System
Your immune system is the best line of defense against all the unseen predators that can cause sickness, infection, or even death. It consists of the tonsils, thymus, spleen, bone marrow, lymph nodes/vessels, and white blood cells.
Your digestive system plays an important role as well due to a large number of bacteria and microscopic organisms that can take root there.
Collagen, particularly its arginine content, gives your body the ability to guard, defend, and react to outside invaders. Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, and asthma are just a few of the qualifying conditions in which upping your intake may help.
7. It May Bring Balance to Blood Sugar Levels
We only mentioned it in the last section, but it’s now worth expanding on. Diabetes. This condition stems from improper regulation of blood sugar levels. Type 1, in particular, is a condition that affects more than one million people in the US alone.
And about 10 percent of the population is living with some form of the disease. It’s characterized by excessive thirst, unexplained weight loss, headaches, blurry vision, constant fatigue, dry mouth, and hunger (even after a meal).
While diabetes can be controlled through diet and exercise, it can also be deadly if left to its own devices.
Collagen powder can be a great source of support for those living with the condition because it features a number of beneficial components such as proline (for detoxification purposes), glycine (for boosting muscle growth and energy), glutamine (for immunity and digestion), and the aforementioned arginine.
Supplementing your diet and exercise routines help you stave off the common symptoms and make healthier lifestyle choices in the long term.
Improving your collagen intake may also help you get a better night’s sleep.
8. It Can Provide Sleep Support
Around 50-70 million Americans are living with some form of sleep disorder, according to the American Sleep Association.
Most of the time, it manifests in the form of sleep apnea, and it’s brought on by lifestyle choices and an overall deficiency in the nutritional components necessary for a healthy lifestyle. Components such as collagen.
The glycine and glutamine mentioned in No. 7 play an important role here as well. Yes, they are great helps with boosting and maintaining energy levels. But they also help to regulate those levels so that you’re getting them during the right portions of the day — and in the right amounts.
Your body does not need to be on a constant energy high, in other words. It needs to know when to shut down as much as it does when to go. Collagen powder helps you get on the proper schedule so that you can set and maintain a consistent sleep schedule.
Of course, if you’re dealing with an issue like sleep apnea, you should consider medical help first and foremost as well as submitting to an overnight sleep study.
9. It Assists in the Faster Healing of Wounds
According to the journal Wound Care Advisor, “plays a key role in each phase of wound healing” by attracting cells, “such as fibroblasts and keratinocytes, to the wound, which encourages debridement, angiogenesis, and re-epithelialization” and “provides a natural scaffold or substrate for new tissue growth.”
In other words, this vital protein is able to fend off damaged tissue with healthy cell growth and repair. That’s why it is common to find collagen in a number of topical products as well as collagen powders.
As you get older and collagen production slows down, it becomes vitally important to obtain it from other sources. This is especially true for damaged, thin, and increasingly sensitive skin.
10. It May Reduce Inflammation
Many of the diseases that persist throughout the body are able to proliferate thanks to inflammation. The body’s inflammatory responses show up across a pretty broad spectrum.
- Coeliac disease
- IBD, or inflammatory bowel disease
If you added up the people who suffer from each of these conditions in the US alone, you would find the number scales into the hundreds of millions. And while inflammation can be linked as a major contributing factor, what causes the inflammation itself?
In many cases, it happens due to an outside invader triggering an immune response. The inflammation is the body’s way of fighting what it believes to be something harmful in your system. But when this inflammation is unregulated, it can lead to chronic conditions and discomfort.
Proline, glutamine, and arginine — all components found within collagen and collagen powders — are essential for helping you control this over-response.
11. It Can Help You Build Muscle and Burn Fat
The main function of collagen — to act as the glue that holds you together — plays such an integral role to building muscle and burning fat.
And building muscle and burning fat is probably the best way to fight off some of the health complications that life may throw your way through one or a combination of circumstances/genetics.
When your body has the connective tissue it needs to support bone and muscle structure, it becomes more capable of using that bone and muscle to push workout limits and break through physical fitness barriers.
As your workouts improve, so, too, will your energy levels. This allows you to do more in the gym and will likely motivate you to make better dietary decisions as well.
Considering that around 75 percent of men in the US and 60 percent of women are obese or overweight, the importance of this cannot be overemphasized.
12. Finally, It May Aid Your Digestive Health
Digestive issues often grow worse with age. A contributing component of this is the degradation of collagen production. Collagen is found in all connective tissues, including the gut lining.
As it wears thin, it can make a person more susceptible to factors like gut perforation and leaky gut syndrome.
Increasing collagen production is of vital importance, especially as you get older. The decline of natural collagen production starts at around 25 years of age.
Since skin cells make up a large portion of the digestive tract, eating foods that are rich in collagen and supplementing as needed through powders, pills, and other safe products can be enormously helpful for the later phases of life.
And that about sums up the major benefits. In the next section, we’ll be discussing some of the best ways that you can incorporate collagen.
What Are the Best Ways to Get Your Collagen?
Modes of delivery are important because they determine the ease, frequency, and quantity by which we are able to incorporate. With collagen, there are three primary methods. Let’s look at each one in a little greater depth.
1. Collagen Supplements
Collagen powders and pills are the two most common ways to supplement your daily intake of the protein. As far as what the proper amount is, there is not any downside of incorporating it into your daily routine.
After all, it’s one of the core building blocks of the human body, so no major risks are associated with it. That said, you’ll probably want to stay within the 5-15 gram range.
But that’s for daily collagen intake, period. So make sure you are reading labels on any supplements you do take, and try to keep tabs on what you are getting through your daily diet.
2. Collagen-Rich Foods
Collagen powder is no doubt a great choice for filling out your daily intake if you have trouble keeping good numbers on the foods you are eating on a given day. That said, the best overall way to get your collagen is through collagen-rich foods.
Here is a partial list of some of the best sources:
- Bone Broth
- Leafy greens and citrus (vitamin C mixes well to enhance the effects of collagen intake)
- Fish, particularly oysters
- Chicken, beef, and other high-protein meats
Per USDA requirements, you should limit your daily meat intake to around 5.5 ounces of lean beef, chicken, or pork; or 1.25 cups of cooked beans/2.5 cups of vegetables.
3. Natural Collagen-Producing Activities
We’ve talked about what to eat or what supplements to this point. But what are some activities you can do to help the process along? Here’s a short list:
- Stop smoking (or never start)
- Cut out the added sugars (bye-bye, processed chocolates)
- Get a massage (yes it helps stimulate, but did you really need an excuse?)
And it certainly can’t hurt to do more cardio or weight training as these activities can help you better synthesize proteins and make healthier lifestyle choices, which will spill over into your food choices.
There are very few issues that can arise from increased collagen intake, but here are two things to watch out for:
- Too much protein of any kind can have the opposite effect on some digestive systems, leading to harder stools and more stomach troubles.
- It can prove frustrating if your body already does a pretty good job of producing collagen because you may not experience any noticeable gains. However, as you age, you’ll be glad to have the extra help.
Collagen Powder Is Collagen Power
Collagen powder is certainly not the only way that you can make this protein work for you, but it can be a convenient and sometimes tasty solution (hello, smoothies!).
Shop around and start cheap if you’re uncertain. Pay particularly close attention to how your joints and muscles are doing after you begin consumption, and continue to eat as much as you can through your traditional diet.