The Benefits of Collagen
You’ve probably heard of collagen before. For example:
“Take a collagen supplement to keep your joints healthy.”
But what exactly is collagen, how does it work in the body, and what benefits does it offer?
Let’s break it all down.
What Is Collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein inside the body. The nutrient consists of amino acids, which are the building blocks of living tissue. Collagen is found in every tissue inside the body and, thanks to its many functions, is essential for us (1).
The protein has unique properties, which allow it to provide structure for all tissues inside the body. Collagen also reinforces and makes muscles, ligaments, and tendons more elastic, which keeps us healthy and resilient to physical stress.
What Functions Does Collagen Have Inside The Body?
As the most abundant protein inside the body, collagen works as a glue that holds us together.
Collagen’s primary function inside the body is to provide structure, strength, and elasticity to tissues. For instance, collagen is abundant in the connective tissues that link individual bones together, surround joints, and connect muscle to bone. Collagen makes these tissues more resilient to stress and more elastic, which allows them to absorb force without breaking down.
Collagen is also found in our muscles where it has similar functions. The protein is partially responsible for many of our muscles’ properties, including their strength, resilience, and elasticity.
The most abundant protein is also essential for joint health (2). Collagen maintains joint integrity, repairs damage, and keeps us healthy and ache-free. For example, collagen is a component of cartilage. The protein supports the health of this tissue and repairs damage caused by physical stress.
Collagen And Sports Nutrition
Soft tissue and joint-related injuries are the most common issues today, especially among competitive athletes (3). Some injuries occur because of repeated stress, and others happen acutely due to impact, falling, or similar. In any case, the body needs collagen to repair injuries and prevent them from occurring in the first place (4).
Collagen-rich foods and dietary supplements are becoming increasingly popular in the sports world. Thanks to the ever-growing body of literature, collagen is regarded as one of the essential nutrients.
Athletes and recreationally active people need collagen even more precisely because the protein makes us more resilient to physical stress and repairs damage to joints, muscles, and connective tissues.
Collagen For Health And Beauty
As the most abundant protein in the body, collagen’s effects go far beyond structural and joint support. Collagen is also vital for our skin and overall appearance.
An ever-growing body of research suggests that collagen is essential for our skin’s overall appearance and elasticity (5). As we get older, the body produces less collagen, which creates a deficit, and the dermal layer structure weakens (6). Getting enough of the nutrient is vital for maintaining a youthful appearance and preventing wrinkles.
Some research also suggests that collagen can support healthy skin hydration, contributing to its fresh and youthful appearance (7).
Some research also suggests that daily collagen intake can support nail health, promote growth, and reduce the risk of breakage (10).