Collagen for Men's Health
Time to read 7 min
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Time to read 7 min
You don't have to be a nutrition expert to be familiar with collagen, a popular supplement best known for its benefits to hair, skin, and nails. While this once meant that collagen supplements were catered more specifically to women, changing cultural values as well as new scientific discoveries have brought collagen into men's wellness routines as well.
But there are more benefits of collagen for men than just its skin-boosting, hair-strengthening effects. As more research has been done into the nutritional value of collagen, more reasons emerge for men to start incorporating collagen supplements into their diets, from aiding muscle growth and recovery to supporting joint health and more. To learn more about collagen benefits for men, read on.
Collagen is a naturally-occurring substance in the body whose key functions include providing structure to our skin, bones, and connective tissues. The body produces collagen naturally and plentifully, working to continuously produce collagen to maintain healthy levels. Indeed, it is one of the body's most abundant proteins.
Collagen is also found in many foods that are part of a nutritious diet, including bone broth, skin-on chicken and fish, berries, bell peppers, leafy greens, and more. But supplements can provide an additional boost when eating foods rich in collagen isn't enough, and they are available in a variety of supplement forms including collagen powders, gummies, mix-in liquids, and even in pill form.
There are many different types of collagen in the body, many of them linked to individual health benefits. The most commonly found types in collagen supplements are Types I and III, which are linked to skin and hair health, and Type II, which is linked to joint health.
Though collagen is found in the body naturally, when taken in supplement form, the body must work to absorb its nutritional benefits. To help expedite and "streamline" our collagen intake, many supplements feature collagen peptides. These are composed of the key amino acids found in collagen – namely, proline, glycine, and hydroxyproline – without any of the other ingredients, making them easier to process through the gastrointestinal tract. This, in turn, has been shown to enhance our body's natural collagen production.
Whether you're looking to build muscle mass, ease joint pain, or support skin health, there are plenty of reasons men can benefit from incorporating collagen supplements into a healthy diet. By boosting collagen production in the body, you'll be investing in your overall health.
The following are the top reasons why men can benefit from raising their collagen levels:
For those looking to maximize the benefits of their workout, collagen supplements are an excellent and easy way to support building muscle mass while at the same time reducing fat. Collagen has been linked to improved muscle recovery, making it easier for the body to rebound after resistance training. This makes it an ideal supplement for gym gains, and indeed, collagen powder has become a staple of workout smoothies for men and women alike.
The benefits of collagen supplements on the muscles are just beginning to be studied, but existing research has pointed in a positive direction. A randomised controlled trial published in the British Journal of Nutrition that studied the effects of collagen on elderly sarcopenic men suggested that collagen supplementation improved body composition, increasing fat free mass and improving muscle strength.
One of collagen's other best-known benefits is its positive impact on joint health and bone strength. Collagen's ability to alleviate joint pain and inflammation has been well studied. A recent report in the scientific journal Nutrients details the benefits of collagen for people suffering from osteoarthritis. In particular, collagen peptide supplements – also known as hydrolyzed collagen – have been observed to be especially effective.
Another reason athletes may turn to collagen peptide supplementation is to improve overall energy levels. The amino acids in collagen tripeptide supplements are the building blocks of proteins, which fuel the body. This means putting collagen powder in your smoothie can add a boost you may not have expected. Further, collagen helps reduce muscular soreness and fatigue, which can both sap the body of its vitality. By limiting these processes, collagen can help the body maintain high energy levels.
Collagen provides structure to our arteries, which keep blood flowing through the body, as well as our blood vessels. Recent studies have indicated that taking collagen supplements can ease artery stiffness and raise levels of "good" HDL cholesterol, which helps protect the body against heart conditions.
Though collagen's benefits to gut health are only just beginning to be studied, recent reports have suggested that collagen peptides can have a positive impact on the intestinal barrier, helping to alleviate inflammatory bowel disease.
Nowadays, we don't need to pretend women are the only ones who care about keeping their hair healthy. Men's hairlines can benefit from collagen supplements, which help protect hair follicles from oxidative damage caused by environmental factors.
Further, one of the key amino acids in hydrolyzed collagen, proline, is known for supporting hair growth. (To be clear, there is no known cure for baldness, but supporting your scalp and follicles can help set the stage for improved hair growth functions.)
Collagen has long been revered for its skin hydration benefits, which help alleviate the signs of aging skin. It's natural that collagen production slows as we age, leading to wrinkling and decreased skin elasticity. This is as true for men as for women.
Taking a collagen supplement daily can strengthen and improve your skin, meaning you can enjoy your enhanced muscle mass alongside a more youthful vitality.
With so many options on the market, it can be hard to know which collagen supplement is right for you. When choosing the collagen supplement to incorporate into your daily diet, take the following into account:
It can also be helpful to be familiar with the different varieties of collagen appearing in supplements, as they are known for different benefits.
Collagen Types I & III: These are the types of collagen that have been shown to support muscle recovery and blood circulation, as well as skin, hair, and nails.
Collagen Type II: This type of collagen has been shown to support healthy joint function.
Be sure to look into the type of collagen featured in your daily supplement to be sure it targets your specific needs.
When taking collagen supplements, keep in mind that your lifestyle choices can impact your body's ability to absorb collagen as well as to produce it.
Factors such as smoking, eating processed foods, and being exposed to too much sunlight can undermine our abilities to get the benefits we want from collagen. Avoiding these habits will help reduce your risk of collagen damage.
Some of the benefits of collagen peptide supplementation can begin to kick in if you're taking even small amounts of collagen (around 2.5 grams). Those who are looking specifically to tap into collagen's muscle-building benefits are recommended to take larger doses, at around 15 grams daily. A 2022 report in Nutrition Reviews attests to the muscle-building benefits of taking 15 grams of hydrolyzed collagen daily. Some additional supplements have been found to enhance the benefits of collagen, in particular vitamin C. You can find vitamin C in many fruits and vegetables, as well as in supplements of their own.
Yes. Eating foods rich in collagen can be another way to increase your collagen intake. Some natural sources of collagen include bone broth, skin-on meats, and leafy greens. Processed foods that feature refined carbs and artificial sugar, can do the opposite, destroying collagen and therefore reducing its natural benefits.
Collagen supplements are generally considered safe and non-toxic, with no major side effects to be expected. That said, it's good to be in touch with your body as you are beginning collagen supplementation, taking stock of how it makes you feel. It is always a good idea to speak with your healthcare provider or a nutritionist if you have any questions or concerns about supplements.
Jack Levinson is a writer born and raised in Los Angeles. He received his bachelor’s degree from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York. When not writing, his interests include the arts, cooking, and exploring the California coast.
Dr. Sanober Doctor is a dual-board certified dermatologist, & a leading expert in Integrative and holistic Dermatology. She is a proactive, compassionate medical practitioner with a thorough understanding of mind-body-spiritual wellness.