What if there was a nutrient that can reverse aging, build more muscle, and improve your sleep? All this might sound too good to be true, but there are actually a lot of scientific studies that suggest collagen may provide all of these benefits.
Collagen has recently been growing quite popular in the paleo community in the form of bone broth and gelatine, which has a similar amino acid composition.
It is known for its anti-aging benefits on the joints and skin. But this protein actually has even more advantages for our bodies.
What Exactly Is Collagen?
Collagen is a type of protein found naturally in the body. There is more collagen than any other type of protein in mammals, it makes up to 30% of all proteins in our bodies. Collagen is found in the skin, joints, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, and even in the bones and muscles.
Collagen is composed of the conditionally essential amino acids glycine, proline, and arginine. It also contains the amino acid derivative hydroxyproline. A conditionally essential amino acids are those that are normally produced by the body, but there are cases when your body might need more than it can make. In such a case, you can benefit from consuming more of them through food sources or supplements. These amino acids are the reason why collagen supplementation has so many benefits.
So what can collagen do for you?
Improves Physical Performance and Results
Here's what will pique the interest of athletes and bodybuilders: collagen can help you build bigger and stronger muscles. Three studies were conducted by European and Japanese researchers to test this.
A 2015 German study  was done with men in their seventies on collagen peptides against placebo. For three months, they consumed collagen peptides and performed regular resistance training. In the end, the men in the collagen group had grown more muscle mass.
Another study by Japanese researchers  tested whether the hydroxyprolylglycine (a combination of hydroxylproline and glycine) from gelatin or collagen peptides could be the reason for the German study results. They tested this on muscle cells and found that the cells fused faster and grew larger muscle tissues from supplementation.
A 2019 12-week study conducted with recreationally active men under 30 tested effects of Resistance Exercise Training (RET) combined collagen peptides on body mass (bm), fat free mass (ffm) and muscle strength. At the end of the study those in the collagen group experienced more pronounced increase in BM, FFM, and muscle strength than RET group alone.
If bigger muscles weren't enough, the arginine content in collagen peptides also plays a role in exercise . The studies conducted on this amino acid have concluded that arginine ingested during training increases strength and body mass, and lowers collagen breakdown. Moreover, arginine stimulates the production of growth hormone that is responsible for muscle growth .
May Aid in Weight Loss
Do you remember that German study on elderly men? Another result from this study was that the subjects consuming the collagen peptides also burned more body fat. Aside from this, consuming extra amounts of protein such as collagen peptides makes you feel full and reduces appetite. Lower calorie intake generally means weight gain, if one of your goals is weight loss.
Promotes Joint Health
Have you ever wondered why jelly is good for kids? It's not just a fun desert. Gelatine is simply the cooked form of collagen, and jelly contains large amounts of gelatine that helps build bones and other connective tissues.
Research has also shown that collagen can also reduce joint pain. A American study was conducted on athletes who suffered chronically painful joints . After consuming collagen peptides for 24 weeks, their pain decreased substantially compared to the placebo group.
Collagen also has positive effects on arthritis sufferers. A review of four open-label and three double-blind studies conducted in 2006 found that they showed “collagen peptides to be safe and to provide improvement in some measures of pain and function in some men and women with OA or other arthritic conditions” .
So aside from helping the musculoskeletal development of the body, collagen also helps treat conditions associated with the joints. This is important only for those suffering from joint related diseases, but also those who work out hard and routinely place large amounts stress their joints. In a 2000 review of current collagen peptide related joint studies the researcher found that ingested collagen peptides accumulated in cartilage and that collagen peptides had beneficial effect on cartilage metabolism.
The less joint pain you experience, the more time and energy you can dedicate to exercising more often.
Keeps the Skin Young
One major concern with getting older is the physical appearance of aging. While aging is a natural process and is not completely avoidable, some people show signs of it at an earlier age than others. White hair can easily be covered up by coloring your hair, but wrinkles and dry skin that lost its elasticity and youthful glow takes a lot more effort; some just let it be. But what if there's another way to counter this?
Collagen is most popularly known as a protein that reverses signs of aging and has beautifying effects. An extensive study was done on this claim . They asked 300 participants from different countries to test collagen consumption's effects on signs of aging.
The study concluded positive results in skin health, higher collagen density, and improved skin firmness. The subjects who had wrinkles, and those who had photo aging signs showed considerable improvement. There were also improvements in skin hydration, and the depth of the nasolabial fold (the line from the corner of the nose to the mouth) was reduced. You might not be able to escape aging, but with collagen, you can at least delay it.
Improves Sleep Quality
This is another benefit you wouldn't really expect from collagen. When you are sleeping, you enter into different levels of sleep, ranging from stage 1 to 4. Stages 1 and 2 are very shallow, and you can easily awaken from them. Stage 3 is the deep sleep stage or slow wave sleep, while the 4th is REM (rapid eye movement), where dreams usually occur.
The deep sleep stage is when your body rests and recovers. It is a vital sleep stage that our bodies need to go through in order to perform well the next day. In this stage, growth hormone is released as well which is what fuels your muscle growth.
Some people, however, cannot enter deep sleep due to health conditions or habits. Consuming caffeine too late in the evenings, for instance, can disrupt your body from being able to reach deeper stages of sleep such as stage 3. This causes drowsiness during the day and an inability to concentrate.
A study was conducted on the effects of collagen intake on sleeping patterns . According to this research, participants who ingested collagen peptides before sleeping reported better-quality sleep. The sleep measurements conducted during the study also showed that the participants fell asleep faster and reached deep sleep quicker than those who took the placebo. They were also found to not feel fatigued during the day and had good mental performance. Even if they didn't say that their sleep quality got better after consuming collagen peptides, their cognitive performance tests still showed improvements.
Why You Should Try Collagen Peptides
After reading about all these benefits, you are obviously thinking, where can I get myself some collagen? The good news is, your body already naturally produces this protein. The bad news is, your body's collagen decreases with age.
Studies have shown that taking collagen peptides may enhance its production and offers unique benefits . Furthermore, several studies have also shown that collagen peptides maybe the most efficiently absorbed form a collagen by our bodies[11,12].
While are our bodies are capable of breaking down and absorbing the different forms of collagen that we eat into amino acids busy lives and other lifestyle factors mean that we may not eating sufficient amounts of protein to ensure our bodies have a sufficient collagen intake.
Sunbio’s collagen peptides offers a fuss-free convenient way to increase your intake of this vital nutrient.
- Zdzieblik, Denise, Steffen Oesser, Manfred W. Baumstark, Albert Gollhofer, and Daniel König. "Collagen peptide supplementation in combination with resistance training improves body composition and increases muscle strength in elderly sarcopenic men: a randomised controlled trial." British Journal of Nutrition114, no. 8 (2015): 1237-1245.
- Kitakaze, Tomoya, Tomotaka Sakamoto, Takehiro Kitano, Naoki Inoue, Fumihito Sugihara, Naoki Harada, and Ryoichi Yamaji. "The collagen derived dipeptide hydroxyprolyl-glycine promotes C2C12 myoblast differentiation and myotube hypertrophy." Biochemical and Biophysical Research communications478, no. 3 (2016): 1292-1297.
- Vanessa Oertzen-Hagemann, Marius Kirmse, Britta Eggers, Kathy Pfeiffer, Katrin Marcus, Markus de Marées, and Petra Platen. “Effects of 12 Weeks of Hypertrophy Resistance Exercise Training Combined with Collagen Peptide Supplementation on the Skeletal Muscle Proteome in Recreationally Active Men.” Nutrients 2019 May; 11(5): 1072.
- Elam, R. P., D. H. Hardin, R. A. Sutton, and L. Hagen. "Effects of arginine and ornithine on strength, lean body mass and urinary hydroxyproline in adult males." The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness29, no. 1 (1989): 52-56.
- Zajac, Adam, Stanislaw Poprzecki, Aleksandra Zebrowska, Malgorzata Chalimoniuk, and Jozef Langfort. "Arginine and ornithine supplementation increases growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor-1 serum levels after heavy-resistance exercise in strength-trained athletes." The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research24, no. 4 (2010): 1082-1090.
- Clark, Kristine L., Wayne Sebastianelli, Klaus R. Flechsenhar, Douglas F. Aukermann, Felix Meza, Roberta L. Millard, John R. Deitch, Paul S. Sherbondy, and Ann Albert. "24-Week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain." Current Medical Research and Opinion24, no. 5 (2008): 1485-1496.
- Alfonso E Bello, Steffen Oesser. “Collagen hydrolysate for the treatment of osteoarthritis and other joint disorders: a review of the literature”. Curr Med Res Opin 2006 Nov;22(11):2221-32.
- Borumand, Maryam, and Sara Sibilla. "Daily consumption of the collagen supplement Pure Gold Collagen® reduces visible signs of aging." Clinical Interventions in Aging9 (2014): 1747.
- Inagawa, Kentaro, Takenori Hiraoka, Tohru Kohda, Wataru Yamadera, and Michio Takahashi. "Subjective effects of glycine ingestion before bedtime on sleep quality." Sleep and Biological Rhythms4, no. 1 (2006): 75-77.
- Cristiana Paul, Suzane Leser, Steffen Oesser. “Significant Amounts of Functional Collagen Peptides Can Be Incorporated in the Diet While Maintaining Indispensable Amino Acid Balance.” Nutrients 2019 May 15;11(5):1079.
- Kathrine Skov, Mikkel Oxfeldt, Rebekka Thøgersen, Mette Hansen, Hanne Christine Bertram. “Enzymatic Hydrolysis of a Collagen Hydrolysate Enhances Postprandial Absorption Rate-A Randomized Controlled Trial.” Nutrients. 2019 May 13;11(5):1064.
- Rebekah D Alcock, Gregory C Shaw, Nicolin Tee, Louise M Burke. “Plasma Amino Acid Concentrations After the Ingestion of Dairy and Collagen Proteins, in Healthy Active Males”. Front Nutr. 2019 Oct 15;6:163.