You might be familiar with collagen as a popular ingredient in beauty products and treatments. Collagen has long been touted for its ability to hydrate your skin, minimize fine lines, reduce the appearance of stretch marks, and promote hair growth.
But before you start slathering on the cream to replenish your collagen levels, you should know that topically applying collagen won’t give you the benefits on this list.
Why? Because you need to consume collagen to capture its health benefits. When ingested, collagen can impact your brain, heart, and digestive system, but the proteins are too big to penetrate your skin cells. Those topical collagen and elastin creams are really just marketing hype.
Pro tip: When taking a collagen dietary supplement, take vitamin C with it to better absorb its nutrients.
#1: Supports Healthy Brain Function
Collagen may prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Collagen protected the brain against amyloid-beta proteins — believed to be one of the causes of Alzheimer’s.
Amyloid-beta refers to the type of amino acid that clumps together, forming a plaque which is commonly found in Alzheimer’s patients’ brains.
By increasing your collagen intake, you can create a form of protection for your brain that combats the same amyloid-beta proteins that attack neurons and cause Alzheimer’s disease.
#2: Promotes Heart Health
Collagen may help lower your cholesterol and prevent heart disease. Collagen help prevent plaque build up in their arteries.
Here’s what happened to the participants as a result:
- Their LDL to HDL cholesterol ratio reduced significantly, which is good news since a higher ratio increases your risk for heart disease
- Collagen prevented and treated the build up of plaque in their arteries
Plaque build up is what clogs your arteries, preventing blood from flowing to other organs. Collagen may help prevent this build up in your blood vessels, protecting against heart attack and stroke.
#3: Supports Healthy Gut Function
Irritable bowel syndrome (or IBS) and leaky gut syndrome are two painful conditions in which the digestive tract and stomach lining become inflamed and irritated. Nutrients and toxic substances “leak” back into the bloodstream instead of being processed out. Stress, poor diet, prescription medications, too much alcohol, and a sedentary lifestyle may contribute to these gastrointestinal disorders.
This negatively impacts your digestive health, causing uncomfortable side effects like bloating, fatigue, upset stomach, diarrhea, constipation, and malnutrition. Rather than being absorbed, vitamins and minerals pass right through your system.
Bone broth, which is an incredible source of collagen, is one of the best natural ways to alleviate leaky gut symptoms. Broth contains bioavailable collagen, which means your body can quickly use this protein and the other vitamins, minerals, and important amino acids (the building blocks of protein) that come with it. Even if you don’t suffer from IBS symptoms, collagen is an excellent supplement to take for gut health.
#4: Eases Joint and Knee Pain
You don’t need to be an athlete to experience joint pain. Whether your job keeps you chained to your desk or you’re on your feet all day, joint pain is something that may come up from time to time. Some people are so sensitive that a sharp change in weather is enough to stiffen up their joints.
Collagen may be able to provide natural relief. It reduced pain while standing, lifting heavy objects, and even at rest. Collagen also may help slow down joint deterioration in individuals, such as those with arthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.
#5: Supports Healthy Skin
Along with drinking lots of water and limiting your sun exposure, you probably know the claims about collagen’s anti-aging properties.
Collagen production decreases with age, leaving greater room for improvement. Helps to improved hydration levels and moist the skin.
When you ingest hydrolyzed collagen, your gut immediately absorbs it and sends it straight to your joints and skin through your bloodstream.
#6: Helps Brittle, Broken Nails
Collagen may help fortify your nails so they don’t become brittle and prone to breaking. Here’s what they found:
- 12% increase in nail growth
- 42% drop in broken nails
- 64% overall improvement in formerly brittle nails
Best Sources of Collagen
You can find it in healthy foods. Here are some other foods that may help your body create more collagen:
- Wild salmon
- Leafy greens like kale and spinach
- Chia seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
Keep in mind, your body is not getting collagen directly from the foods. Rather, these foods may help your body produce more of it on its own. Collagen supplementation is the only way to absorb collagen directly.