There has been a sharp rise in the use of protein powder supplements. Experts predict US consumers will spend $7.5 billion on protein supplements in 2020. It’s a cheap and convenient alternative to cooking whole meals. They are available in grocery stores, gyms, and any place that promotes health and fitness. But why are protein powders so popular, and what are the health benefits?
In 2017, we saw the rise of hydrolyzed collagen peptides as the new and improved protein powder. Mainstream outlets started writing stories about the “hidden” health benefits of collagen. It wasn't initially a nutritional supplement. But now you’ll find collagen in almost everything.
Collagen powder benefits the body in many ways and makes up a large part of bone broth supplements. Users can buy it as a standalone powder or a nutrient in various beauty products. Collagen benefits skin, hair, weight loss, joints, digestion, and much more. It's a very versatile supplement. Many people use collagen peptides in place of traditional protein powders.
What is Collagen?
What is collagen? The word “collagen” derives from “kola,” the Greek word for glue. It is the most copious protein that exists in your body. Collagen makes up about 30% of all protein in your body and is the main component of connective tissue. This tissue includes teeth, ligaments, skin, muscles, bones, tendons, and much more.
Collagen contains 18 different amino acids. Proline (25%) and glycine (20%) are the most abundant. When consumed, this protein breaks down into individual amino acids. Some of those amino acids help create more collagen. When you lose connective tissue, your body builds new collagen to replace it.
The body’s collagen production reduces as we age. Replenishing our supply through dietary means is difficult. For this reason, collagen supplements are essential for maintaining a youthful appearance.
What is Hydrolyzed Collagen?
What is hydrolyzed collagen? Hydrolyzed collagen goes by many different names. Collagen peptides, gelatin (cooked collagen), and collagen hydrolysate to name a few. The process begins by collecting collagen from the bones and skin of animals. Then, it's broken down into smaller fragments through a process called hydrolysis. The body absorbs these fragments and uses them for boosting energy and tissue repair.
Unlike collagen, hydrolyzed collagen powder is more bioavailable. The enhanced bioavailability means more natural absorption into the bloodstream. Regular peptides, due to their long shape, cannot deliver the same health benefits.
The smaller fragments in hydrolyzed collagen supplements are easier to digest. Thus, they break down quickly into molecules that enter the bloodstream. The hydrolyzed form has an absorption rate of 90%, versus 27% if acquired through food. When shopping for supplements, make sure you choose hydrolyzed collagen protein powder.
Types of Collagen
Many types of collagen exist. To date, we've identified roughly 28 variations. They are distinct from each other in many ways. Molecular makeup and location within the body are a couple of the key differences. But, all collagen types primarily helping tissues maintain their elasticity. Roughly 80-90% of all the collagen in the human body is type 1 and type 3.
Type 1 Collagen
Type 1 collagen appears the most in the body. It’s present in bones, skin, organs, and ligaments. It forms the gastrointestinal (GI) tract lining. This type of collagen benefits skin elasticity and reduces the appearance of wrinkles. One study found that oral supplementation of type 1 collagen improved osteoarthritis.
Type 2 Collagen
Type 2 collagen is the primary component in cartilage and makes up a part of the vitreous humour of the eye. The vitreous humor supplies nutrients to the retina. It also helps your eye maintain its sphere-like shape. People who lack type 2 collagen often experience joint pain and discomfort. A randomized clinical trial in 2016 found that type 2 collagen reduced knee pain in its subjects.
Type 3 Collagen
Type 3 collagen exists in bone marrow. You’ll find it within blood vessels and arterial walls. There are many parallels between type 1 and type 3 collagen. Research suggests that type 3 peptides aid cardiovascular development. Type 1 and type 3 collagen also benefit skin, hair, and nail growth. The best collagen protein supplements for beauty contain a blend of both peptides.
Type 4 Collagen
We need more research to determine the full extent of the type 4 collagen benefits. You'll find type 4 in the lens of your eyes, but it is most abundant in the basement membrane of your skin. The basement membrane plays many crucial biological functions. But, the main purpose is helping with post-injury tissue regeneration.
Type 5 Collagen
Type 5 collagen plays a vital role in creating type 1 and type 3 collagen. Early research suggests that it contributes to the healthy development of many organs. These organs include the lungs, liver, and placenta. Like type 4 peptides, the research on type 5 is still relatively new.
Other Collagen Types
Other collagen types have meager quantities in the human body. For this reason, most of them still need thorough investigation. The health benefits of collagen protein derive from type 1 and type 3 peptides. But, that does not make the other forms any less important in the body.
As an example, type 6 collagen can protect healthy cells from damaging outcomes. These include accidental cell death and oxidative damage as expressed in tumor cells. This benefit makes it an essential biomarker for diagnosing various cancers.
Type 10 collagen is another rare form. Studies show that type 10 forms bone tissue and heals cartilage. These two processes are critical following an injury. Now that we’re familiar with the types of collagen let’s move on to its health benefits.
6 Health Benefits of Hydrolyzed Collagen Protein Powder
1. Skin Care & Anti-Aging
Hydrolyzed collagen powder has received a lot of attention in the skin care industry. Like coconut oil, it has become a key ingredient of many anti-aging lotions and creams. You'll see collagen masks, collagen serum, and many other skin care cosmetics. As it turns out, using collagen for skin can be quite beneficial.
One major study showed that older women improved their skin moisture and elasticity. They also reduced skin dryness by taking 2.5-5.0 grams of collagen protein powder per day. This double-blind, placebo-controlled study also found no side effects. The study’s results suggest collagen for skin tightening and anti-aging works wonders.
This finding is not shocking. Older women experience lower collagen production. Naturally, this leads to loose skin and the formation of wrinkles. Hydrolyzed collagen peptides can keep your skin looking new while feeling firm. One study suggests that oral supplementation is more effective than topical creams.
It’s vital not to forget the importance of natural sleep in skin care. Reduce your stress and get more sleep. You’ll find that alone can solve most health issues that we encounter. But, what else can collagen supplements do for a youthful appearance? There many other collagen benefits for skin that we will discuss below.
Face & Eye Wrinkles
One of hydrolyzed collagen’s cosmetic applications involves eliminating wrinkles on your face. Due to lowered collagen production, skin becomes dry, and lines start to form. As a result, it leads to an older and unhealthy appearance. Using collagen for wrinkles can help.
A 2004 study found that topical collagen can reduce the presence of wrinkles in women. Another study found that oral hydrolyzed collagen reversed signs of natural aging. This includes wrinkles below the eyes.
Hydrolyzed peptides are also useful for preventing vision loss. Remember, collagen is an integral part of your eyes’ lens. Scientific research shows that collagen can help reduce the risk of having cataracts. Cataracts are the leading source of blindness in people ages 50 and up. For this reason, collagen protein is a great skin care and general health supplement.
Cellulite & Stretch Marks
Cellulite and stretch marks both have a similar cause. When collagen and elastin fibers weaken over time, we produce less collagen. The skin will then lose its elastic properties. The skin is thinner, which makes the fat deposits push through the weakened fibers. That is how cellulite and stretch marks begin to form on your skin. Rapid weight loss or gain in a short speed up their development.
Experts also suggest that other factors may play a role. Lack of physical activity, excess body fat and hormonal disruption are examples. It is common to use collagen for stretch marks and cellulite to correct this problem.
One 2015 study revealed that hydrolyzed collagen significantly reduced cellulite. Another study used a collagen injection to treat stretch marks. Hydrolyzed collagen powder may also be useful for removing stretch marks. Treating stretch marks is one of the many benefits of collagen on skin health.
Acne Scars & Healing
Can collagen supplements for acne scars and healing work? There are a variety of causes for the formation of acne scars that do not heal. We can blame almost 90% of acne scars on collagen loss and degradation of collagen fibers. Restoring collagen production speeds up the healing process and removes acne scars faster. Its anti-aging properties regenerate skin cells, which will replace damaged cells.
A meta-analysis of acne treatments reveals that every option involves increasing collagen production. Currently, it is unknown if hydrolyzed collagen supplements explicitly treat acne-related problems. But, anecdotal evidence suggests that it may. They will also help you choose the best collagen supplements for skin.
2. Hair Growth & Hair Loss
Using collagen for hair growth and hair loss is another benefit to consider. Collagen is an integral part of maintaining healthy hair. Sometimes there is a lack of collagen due to breakdown and low production. If this happens, the hair follicles generate thinning and brittle hair.
Collagen prevents damage to the hair follicles. It also protects and strengthens your follicles at the same time. This benefit can reduce hair loss and promote healthy hair growth. Collagen also keeps your hair moisturized, and it repairs split ends. Some doctors suggest that adequate collagen production can even prevent grey hair formation.
A 2016 landmark study in Japan found an explanation for collagen-related hair loss. It turns out the lack of type 17 collagen can damage stem cells in hair follicles. The damage leads to hair thinning, and eventual balding.
A 2015 study in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology found another critical discovery. Researchers established a clear relationship between type 4 collagen and hair follicle regeneration. This connection further supports the benefits of collagen for hair loss.
Marine collagen supplements have also shown an ability to reverse hair thinning. One study showed that it was capable of growing hair in men suffering from male pattern baldness. There was the growth of new hair, along with thickening of existing hair.
3. Weight Loss & Metabolism
Collagen protein and weight loss go hand in hand. Hydrolyzed collagen peptides make you feel fuller using appetite suppression. These powders can also change your body composition and help preserve lean muscle. Having a higher percentage of lean mass is a major factor in metabolism. Improving thyroid function naturally also supports metabolic output.
A clinical trial in 2009 showed that collagen was 40% more filling compared to other forms of protein. Generally, a high-protein diet leads to consumption of fewer calories. Thus, it leads to more weight loss that is also longer-lasting. You can use collagen for weight loss and see real results.
One pivotal study in 2015 examined 53 older men who suffer from age-related muscle loss. Using collagen protein powder for 12 weeks led to simultaneous fat loss and muscle gain. Even if the scale doesn’t change, body composition improves.
As mentioned, the maintenance and gaining of lean muscle mass also aid in metabolism. Increased muscle mass boosts metabolic output. Heightened metabolism means your body burns more energy naturally leading to weight loss.
Collagen has also shown to have positive effects on liver metabolism. It works by increasing lipid metabolism, which reduces your blood cholesterol levels. Based on current evidence, collagen benefits weight loss and helps with most diets. This supplement is an excellent way to support your metabolic rate.
4. Joint Pain & Arthritis
Collagen is a vital part of your cartilage. It keeps the cartilage strong, which helps protect joints from damage. When collagen levels decrease, your cartilage starts to degrade. This side effect puts you at increased risk for stiff, immobile and painful joints. Left untreated, this can lead to problems such as joint inflammation and arthritis.
Studies show that consuming powdered collagen benefits both joint pain and arthritis. A 2018 review examined athletes with osteoarthritis. They experienced pain relief after using collagen peptides, like the benefits of turmeric. With osteoarthritis, you may experience joint inflammation due to cartilage breakdown. The collagen powder improved ease of joint movement while preventing their deterioration. The results suggest that collagen for joint pain can be an effective natural remedy.
Other studies focused on type 2 collagen protein. A meta-analysis done in 2009 showed that supplementation has many positive benefits. These health benefits include less joint swelling and increased physical activity. A separate study revealed a 33% reduction in the severity of symptoms. Additionally, there was a 40% reduction in the number of symptoms.
Hydrolyzed collagen supplements also assist in strengthening tendons and ligaments. A Current Medical Research and Opinion review found promising results for collagen. The subject’s joints were more comfortable for patients to move following supplementation. This benefit led to greater mobility and flexibility. The study further proves that you can use collagen for arthritis.
5. Leaky Gut & Digestion
“Leaky gut” is a condition where your intestinal tract (IT) lining shows damage. Various toxins and bacteria can enter your bloodstream, causing several infections and diseases. Collagen handles forming the connective tissue that protects the IT lining. It aids in the healing process, where needed. Collagen also prevents unwanted substances from escaping the small intestine.
Oral collagen protein benefits the restoration and strengthening of the gut lining. The peptides amplify collagen production during the creation of smooth muscle cells. These cells heal the lining and improve digestion. The scientific evidence is in favor of using collagen for leaky gut syndrome. Its amino acid profile and collagen content is also a huge part of bone broth nutrition.
Several studies have demonstrated the connection between gut inflammation and various illnesses. Acid reflux, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and Crohn’s disease are a few examples. A 2003 study found a link between digestive disorders and lower blood levels of collagen. The amino acids in collagen powder are what build the tissue that makes up the gut wall. The rebuilding of the intestinal tract leads to a marked improvement in gut health.
Collagen supplements are also helpful in improving the digestive process. They attract food particles, which allows them to move through the body easily. It also makes food breakdown a less energy-intensive process. Collagen increases stomach hydrochloric acid (HCl) production. HCl kills foreign agents and breaks down proteins into smaller amino acids. Gut health is critical because it’s directly tied to both brain function and immunity.
6. Builds Stronger Bones
Lowered collagen levels lead to a variety of adverse health conditions. The most common outcome is osteoporosis. Osteoporosis occurs when the body loses bone tissue or fails to produce enough of it. As bone density decreases, the risk of bone fractures can increase.
Therefore, collagen is necessary for strengthening bones and preventing fractures. Higher collagen levels help your bones absorb more energy during physical stress. The benefits of collagen powder can help improve bone formation and bone strength.
A 2018 controlled study looked at 131 postmenopausal women using hydrolyzed collagen protein. This subset is especially prone to developing osteoporosis. The women who took a hydrolyzed collagen supplement increased their bone mineral density (BMD). An increase in BMD leads to the development of stronger bones. They also experienced reduced bone degradation and increased bone formation.
Another publication in 2016 reviewed all the studies about collagen peptides and osteoporosis. They found that collagen powder was safe and therapeutic for treating osteoporosis. Collagen led to pain relief, but it also inhibited bone breakdown. On top of that, it improved movement flexibility and overall mobility.
A 2017 meta-analysis showed that collagen has a definite effect on bone metabolism. It improves calcium absorption while possessing an anti-inflammatory effect on bone-related diseases. In conclusion, collagen protein can improve treatment compliance rates for osteoporosis patients.
Final Thoughts on the Benefits of Collagen Protein Powder
Ensure that a trusted third-party organization tests any collagen supplement you take. That way, you can experience all the benefits of collagen to the highest degree. It is possible to consume collagen protein through foods such as meat and bone broth. But, supplementation is currently the best route for greatest absorption.
Hydrolyzed collagen peptides are often unflavored and easy to incorporate into your diet. They can improve your skin, encourage hair growth, and even boost weight loss. Its effect on the digestive process can also boost cognition and clear brain fog. Finally, ensure that you are living a healthy collagen-promoting lifestyle. Eat healthy food, lower alcohol intake, minimize smoking, and exercise regularly.