Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, as well as one of the most important. It's found in tendons, ligaments, fat, skin, and other places. It’s a core part of the extracellular matrix, a kind of scaffolding that helps our bodies’ connective tissues hold together. Widely discussed for its benefits to hair, skin, and outward appearance – sometimes dubbed as “the fountain of youth” – collagen also serves several other important functions inside our bodies.
If you have concerns about your collagen levels and hope to enjoy collagen’s many health benefits, collagen supplements may be right for you. How much collagen you should take, though, depends on the reason you’re taking it. Read on to learn more.
There are a few factors that can determine how much collagen you should be taking. A number of lifestyle factors as well as your individual health goals will allow you to better decide how much collagen you may need. We will break down everything you need to know.
Collagen supplements are available in different forms. The most commonly used are: Hydrolyzed collagen (collagen hydrolysate): Derived from bovine, marine, poultry, pigs, and other animal sources, it’s broken into easily absorbed peptide particles. Gelatin: A cooked form of collagen that comes from animal sources. Undenatured collagen: Raw collagen from chicken cartilage. Collagen supplements are usually available in powder form, making them easy to mix into smoothies, oatmeal, and other food and beverages. It’s also available as capsules and as topical products to be applied to the skin. (At Care/of, we offer a top-notch collagen powder derived from grass-fed bovine.)
Collagen requirements can vary for everybody, depending on individual habits and genetic predispositions. Nevertheless, a decrease in collagen is a natural part of the aging process. This decline is not just noticeable in the suppleness of our skin, but also in our bones and joints.
Additionally, lifestyle choices play a significant role. For instance, those who smoke or use tobacco products might notice an accelerated loss of collagen. Similarly, those who frequently consume alcohol or have a diet high in sugar are promoting a faster breakdown of collagen.
Lastly, while receiving natural sunlight is important for numerous bodily processes, frequent UVA sun exposure isn’t always our skin’s best friend. This frequent exposure can diminish collagen levels and lead to premature signs of aging.
The dosage of collagen that you should consume can vary depending on what your specific goal is. Let’s take a look at each of these.
Collagen has been shown to support skin health. One randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 64 healthy female adult subjects found that taking 1 gram of collagen peptides over 12 weeks can lead to improvement in skin hydration and skin elasticity while reducing the appearance of wrinkles. Another study found that women who consumed 10 grams daily of collagen peptides increased their skin moisture by up to 28% after 8 weeks, compared to a 0% increase among those who took a placebo.
A study that specifically focused on eye wrinkles also demonstrated collagen’s effectiveness: Women who ingested 2.5 grams of collagen peptides daily over 8 weeks had a 20% reduction in eye wrinkle volume compared to those who took the placebo. The maximum eye wrinkle reduction at 8 weeks was found to be an impressive 50%.
The available research suggests that taking between 2.5 to 15 grams of hydrolyzed collagen for up to 8 weeks may be effective for improving skin health. Consult with a medical professional about the right dose for you.
Collagen is essential to your body’s production of keratin, the protein that your hair is primarily made out of. Collagen is also the main component of the dermis, which is a connective tissue layer containing hair follicles. More research is needed to demonstrate the effect of collagen on hair growth, though. A 2019 review of clinical studies found that taking between 2.5 and 15 grams of hydrolyzed collagen per day is safe and effective for boosting collagen levels and enjoying its related benefits.
When used by people involved in resistance training, collagen supplements can support muscle growth. A study of recreationally active men who were resistance training found that taking 15 grams of collagen supplements supported the protein composition of the skeletal muscle. Another study, this one comprising 53 older men, found that the men who consumed 15 grams of hydrolyzed collagen after training gained more muscle than the placebo group did.
What these studies clearly show is that collagen supplements post-workout can work better than taking no protein at all; what remains to be seen, though, is whether collagen supplements work better than other protein sources. But, if bone and muscle support is your goal, you can feel good about incorporating collagen supplements into your routine.
Early findings suggest that collagen can be good for joint health – though more research is still needed. One 24-week study of the use of collagen hydrolysate in athletes with exercise-induced joint pain found that those athletes who took 10 grams of the supplement daily experienced reductions in pain compared to those who took the placebo. Researchers believe this study has broader implications for the use of collagen hydrolysate in supporting joint health. Care/of also has an eggshell membrane supplement called Veg collagen joint supplement that has been shown in multiple human clinical studies to support healthy joints with wear and tear associated with exercise
Your bones are mainly made of collagen, making it important to keep up healthy levels. A recent study recorded the effects of 12-month daily collagen supplementation, with a dosage of 5 grams per day, on postmenopausal women. The study found improvements in bone health for the group that took the daily 5 grams of collagen compared to the placebo group.
Considering that collagen is so critical for skin health, it only makes sense that it can also promote healthy nails. When it comes to the best dosage, most clinical trials that focus on skill health have used 5 grams of Specific Collagen Peptides (SCP) per day. However, when zeroing in on the specifics of nail health, 2.5 grams daily was found to be effective for individuals with brittle nails. While you may primarily be consuming collagen to improve nail strength, you would simultaneously be reaping the benefits for your skin.
When it comes to direct evidence linking collagen to sleep and mood support, research remains inconclusive. There isn’t specific research to determine that collagen can promote better sleep or mood. But, in theory, since collagen contains the amino acid, glycine, it may have potential benefits for sleep. However, the amino acid profiles of collagen supplements can vary dramatically depending on the product; they can sometimes even vary batch to batch.
If you’re looking for a more reliable solution for sleep support, opting for melatonin (found in our Sleep Blend with melatonin, valerian, passionflower, and ashwagandha) and maintaining good sleep hygiene is recommended. As for mood enhancement, it’s better to try adaptogens that are known for stress support, such as ashwagandha. Combining ashwagandha with a healthy and balanced diet can be more impactful on mood management.
Of course, regular physical activity remains at the forefront of promoting both a healthy mood and restful sleep. If you are experiencing chronic sleep concerns be sure to talk to your doctor as it can be a sign of a more serious underlying issue.
Collagen has been recently explored for its potential benefits for the heart. A study that was done in already healthy humans sheds some light on this connection. However, this study was open-label and not placebo-controlled, which introduces a high risk of bias. Participants in this study consumed 16 grams of Collagen Tri-peptide per day over 6 months. The outcomes were intriguing: there were improvements in the HDL to LDL cholesterol ratio (already in normal range), a reduction in advanced glycation end products (AGEs) that are associated with aging, and an improvement in the cardio-ankle vascular index.
Due to these findings, the authors of the study concluded that collagen supports circulation and heart health in people who are already healthy. Still, more studies need to be done, particularly double-blind, placebo-controlled trials.
It’s possible that the participants, being aware of the study’s objectives, may have made diet or lifestyle changes during the study period, which could have influenced the overall improvements. This makes it challenging to attribute the benefits solely to collagen intake.
There has been some buzz around the potential for collagen to assist in healthy weight management. A randomized controlled trial with 97 participants who consumed 15 grams of Specific Collagen Peptides (SCP) per day found that this type of collagen was associated with increases in fat-free body mass and a decrease in fat mass when paired with resistance training. Interestingly, in this study, the SCP collagen outperformed both whey protein and a placebo.
Another double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 57 men evaluated the effects of 15 grams of collagen peptide hydrolysate daily combined with 12 weeks of resistance training. The results showed that the collagen-consuming group experienced a significant increase in their fat-free mass when compared to the placebo group. Also, the placebo group saw an increase in body fat mass, while the collagen group did not.
Further supporting these findings, a study conducted on 77 pre-menopausal women over 12 weeks who took 15 grams of collagen peptides daily with resistance training (3 times per week), discovered that the collagen group had significant increases in fat-free mass and decreases in fat mass. The collagen group also demonstrated higher hand-grip strength than the placebo group. Both groups saw increases in leg strength, but the collagen group experienced more pronounced effects.
When it comes to consuming collagen on an empty stomach or paired with meals, the choice is yours. To date, research hasn’t found a significant difference between these two approaches.
Again, clinical trials have not found a specific difference between taking collagen in the morning versus the evening. You can take your collagen at any point throughout the day that feels right for you. The most important thing is consistency rather than timing.
Collagen is thought to be a safe, nontoxic daily supplement for healthy adults, and negative side effects are rare. It’s best to check with your healthcare provider about a recommended dosage based on your particular needs.
Absolutely! Collagen production declines as a natural part of the aging process. It’s produced at higher rates during our younger years, contributing to the elasticity of our skin, the strength of our bones, and the functionality of joints. It’s said that once we reach the age of 30, collagen production begins to decrease by 1-2% per year. That’s why it’s important to consume protein-rich foods and consume collagen supplements to fill any gaps.
Collagen side effects are rare. Some have reported symptoms, though, including having an unpleasant taste in their mouths and having some potential digestive symptoms.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies, contributing to the health and strength of our skin, joints, and bones. Certain types of collagen have been found to even potentially play a role in heart health and even contribute to healthy weight management when combined with exercise. Unfortunately, the production of collagen declines with age and is also influenced by lifestyle choices. Collagen supplements are available in various forms, with recommended dosages being dependent on your specific health goal. The key to effective supplementation is consistent consumption, regardless of the time of day. While collagen is generally safe with side effects being rare, it’s still recommended to consult with your healthcare provider before implementing it into your routine.