Collagen for Women’s Health: Top Benefits
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Time to read 7 min
Often celebrated for its role in promoting skin elasticity and a youthful complexion, collagen is emerging as an ally in addressing various aspects of women's health. Beyond its cosmetic benefits, this powerhouse protein is versatile, contributing to everything from joint strength to gut health. Collagen intake has many benefits that extend beyond skin deep, providing women with the tools they need to nurture their bodies from the inside out, especially as they age. Read on for the transformative benefits of collagen and how it can be a cornerstone in women's wellness.
Women have different dietary needs and body changes than men, especially as they age. Read on to learn about all of the benefits of taking collagen supplements for women.
Collagen powder helps prevent the look of fine lines, wrinkles, and “hollowing” of the skin as it ages or comes into contact with oxidative stressors like smoke, pollution, or UV rays. As women age, they experience decreased collagen production. Studies have shown that collagen supplements may help boost natural collagen production, restore depleted collagen under the skin, and decrease the activity of destructive enzymes in the skin matrix, giving a bouncy, healthy look.
Collagen helps promote moisturization and suppress inflammation in the skin, leading to improvements in skin smoothness and texture. Inflammation, often a precursor for acne, is decreased in women who took collagen, another wonderful benefit of collagen supplementation for the skin.
Hair, skin, and nails are made out of a protein called keratin, of which collagen is a major component. There are many anecdotal claims that collagen may benefit hair and nail strength, but there is a lack of high-quality studies with proper comparison to a control group following a similar diet. Some studies claim a decrease in the brittleness of nails and hair after women took collagen peptides for 12 weeks, but more research is needed to draw definitive conclusions.
One of the amino acids that make up collagen’s structure is glycine. Glycine has been found to be deficient in individuals with insulin resistance. When subjects supplement with glycine in the form of collagen, there is a reduction in the severity of insulin resistance. Some studies have also shown that fasted glucose levels are more stable with collagen supplementation, suggesting that collagen may help regulate blood sugar, preventing sudden changes in serum glucose.
Collagen supplementation helps with sports performance and recovery by speeding tissue repair and decreasing the load on the muscles through improvements in ligament and tendon strength. Recovery speed and repeated jump force-production tests have shown that athletes who supplement with collagen experience rapid tissue repair and decreased muscle stress priming muscles to be ready for the next time they are used.
Collagen does help with muscle growth, but not in the same way as whey protein. This is why a concurrent supplementation with collagen and whey will produce the best strength and size gains for muscles. Rather than increasing muscle cell size like whey, collagen increases the amount and thickness of fibrous crosslinking proteins between the muscle cells, improving contraction strength and muscle cross-sectional area.
In a similar way to the skin, collagen improves the protective barrier inside the digestive tract. This barrier is meant to prevent bacteria, harmful metabolites, and other external stressors from passing through the gut-blood barrier, which would cause damage to other organs and even the brain. Collagen also increases the turnover of the cells that line the digestive tract, allowing for optimal absorption of nutrients and healthy barrier function.
Both hypothyroid and hyperthyroid conditions affect collagen synthesis, affecting the structural integrity of bones and connective tissue. Metabolism of your body’s collagen is a natural process that occurs with age but is increased with thyroid conditions, depleting its concentration in key tissues. Supplementing with collagen peptides helps increase natural collagen synthesis and deposition, potentially providing protective effects by reinforcing structures with collagen matrices. This process is mediated by proline, a main amino acid component in collagen peptides.
Collagen plays a crucial role in supporting the growth and maintenance of connective tissues, skin, and joints. As pregnancy places increased demands on the body, collagen supplementation may contribute to improved elasticity of the skin, helping to prevent stretch marks and maintain skin hydration. Additionally, collagen is a key component of the placenta, supporting fetal development. The amino acids found in collagen aid in the formation of the baby's tissues and organs. Collagen may also alleviate joint pain and discomfort associated with the added strain on the body during pregnancy. Collagen supports tissue recovery postpartum as well.
However, it's essential for pregnant individuals to consult with their healthcare providers before incorporating any supplements into their routine to ensure safety and appropriateness for their specific needs.
Collagen supplementation decreases many of the negative effects that come with estrogen deficiency. The mechanism is not fully elucidated, but in a study of obese post-menopausal women, supplementation with collagen with no other intervention produced weight loss results. Postmenopausal women are far more likely to gain weight around the midsection post-menopause, and it seems to be effectively mitigated by collagen supplementation.
Osteopenia is the age-related loss of bone mass that makes older people more injury-prone. In women, the rate of bone loss increases significantly after the age of 40, and even more so once women have gone through menopause. After menopause, 54% of women have clinical osteopenia, and 30% have osteoporosis, a more advanced stage of bone loss.
Supplementing with collagen incites tissue remodeling and reduces tissue loss, increasing bone mineral density and strength of joints and connective tissue. These effects are most pronounced in the improved thickness and injury resistance of ligaments and tendons. With better support, joints can not displace outside its normal range of motion, which is where injury typically occurs.
One of the most common injuries in older women is hip fracture, and this risk, in women who took collagen, is significantly decreased.
There are 28 types of collagen, all of which are best suited for use in different tissues of the body. Most collagen supplements out there have a combination of 5 types of collagen.
The most effective collagen type is already broken down into usable peptides, so look for “Collagen Peptides” when purchasing a quality collagen for women. For the skin, the most effective type of collagen is a collagen tripeptide, the smallest molecule that collagen can be broken into. So small, in fact, that it is able to pass the blood-skin barrier and make changes in the underlying dermis of the skin.
Bone broth is naturally rich in collagen, but ingesting collagen as an activated supplement instead of getting collagen from foods results in higher resultant collagen levels.
Collagen decreases the loss of the proteins that give skin structure, decreasing the appearance of wrinkles.
Collagen is an outstanding intervention to improve bone, connective tissue, and joint strength, especially after menopause when the deterioration of these tissues speeds up.
There are some anecdotal reports that collagen improves the brittleness of hair and nails, but more high-quality studies are needed to draw conclusions.
Collagen supplements may help women during and after pregnancy, supporting healthy connective tissue in the mother and baby, as well as supporting the elasticity of the pelvic floor and placenta.
Collagen tripeptides, which are composed of three amino acid sequences, are considered highly beneficial for skin health. It's important to note that while collagen tripeptides can offer significant benefits for the skin, the overall health and appearance of your skin are influenced by a variety of factors, including diet, hydration, sun protection, and genetics.
Collagen poses little to no risk to the body. There is always a chance of allergy or intolerance, manifesting as nausea, diarrhea, or a skin rash.
Madeleine is a Medical Copywriter who was born in Upstate New York. She graduated from Temple University with a Bachelor of Science in Human Biology in 2019. She is a digital nomad who travels full-time.
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.