Collagen is the most abundant protein in our body made up of chains of amino acids. It is continually produced in our body and forms the structural framework, providing strength and tensile properties to tissues like skin, bone, cartilage, tendons, muscles and organs. There are about 28 types of collagen in our body, but three primary types tend to dominate; namely Type I, II and III.

 Before we go into the benefits of collagen supplements, it’s necessary to know that all collagen is sourced from animals, so it’s a big no for vegans. Commonly collagen is derived from marine (fish), bovine (cow), porcine (pig) or from chicken.

 Benefits Of Oral Collagen Based On Research

 Promotes Healthy Skin

 Skin is considered as the largest organ in the body and is composed of main collagen, providing strength and hydration. As we age collagen production decreases leading to wrinkles and dryness. However, several studies have shown that collagen supplements may help to slow the ageing process by reducing wrinkles and dryness.

 Relieves Joint Pains

 Collagen helps maintain the integrity of your cartilage, which is the rubber-like tissue that protects joints. There are wear and reduction of collagen synthesis as we age, leading to risk of developing osteoarthritis. Some studies have shown that taking collagen supplements may help improve symptoms of osteoarthritis and reduce overall joint pain and mobility.

 Prevents Osteoporosis

 Collagen provides strength to bones and is reduced as we age and so does bone mass.  This may lead to conditions called osteoporosis, which is characterized by low bone density leading higher risk of bone fractures. Studies have shown that taking collagen supplements may have certain effects on the body that help inhibit the bone breakdown that leads to osteoporosis.

 Improves Muscle Mass

 About 10% of muscle is composed of collagen. This protein is necessary to keep your muscles strong and functioning properly. Studies suggest that collagen supplements help boost muscle mass in people with sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass that happens with age.

Side Effects Of Collagen Supplements

 The collagen supplements market is not regulated as is for medications, as it is categorized under ‘food supplement. So, beware of the source, ingredients, potency and the additives.

 Though side effects are not common, the most commonly reported side effects are increased calcium levels in the blood (hypercalcemia), constipation, fatigue and allergy to collagen proteins. Other undesirable aspects are bloating, bad aftertaste, and meat/fish smell of the supplement. Before taking any supplements, make sure to discuss with your healthcare provider about any possible side effect unique to your health history

How Much Collagen Should I Take?

 A dosage of the collagen supplement largely depends on the type of collagen preparation. There are more than a dozen types of collagen available and each is composed of different amino acids or chains of amino acids called ‘peptides’.

 In most cases, if you’re buying a collagen peptides powder, you’re buying "hydrolyzed" type-I collagen that has been extracted from animal skin or bones or fish. Hydrolyzed indicates that complex collagen molecule chains have been broken down into smaller units using enzymes, a process that allows it to dissolve in liquids.

 This type of collagen preparation is very popular and easily available.  A 2-scoop serving of most collagen peptides delivering around 18 grams to 20 grams should be adequate, however, due to the diversity of the products available and the variation in the composition of the supplement, it is considered safe to follow the instruction mentioned on the product.

Final Thoughts

For many, supplementing with collagen can be something of a mild fountain of youth in how it affects the body. Somebody with skin starting to wrinkle, hair starting to thin, arthritis pain and poor circulation will benefit greatly from collagen supplementation. Even if few health benefits are gained by the user, cosmetic improvements can boost confidence, which will not only transfer over and be reflected in the person’s performance at the gym but will reflect in their day-to-day life. So, is collagen worth it? As long as the supplementation is monitored, and the supplementation is done safely, collagen is definitely worth it.

                                                                                               By Dr. Vivek A N, Consultant Orthopedic Surgeon, Fortis Malar Hospital