What does collagen do for you?
Smoother, more hydrated skin
Your skin and connective tissue contain special cells called fibroblasts that manufacture collagen. They can crank it out as long as they have plenty of glycine, proline, hydroxyproline. The best way to get those amino acids is hydrolyzed collagen, which has been broken down so it’s more bioavailable. Hydrolyzed collagen also goes by “collagen hydrolysate” and “collagen peptides.” Upgraded Collagen and CollaGelatin are both hydrolyzed.
Hydrolyzed collagen does several things for your skin. It:
- Improves skin elasticity.
- Decreases skin cracking
- Removes wrinkles.
- Increases fibroblast density, a marker of healthy, elastic skin.
- Increases skin moisture.
In a nutshell, collagen will make your skin younger and stretchier. Participants in all the studies above used between 2 and 10 grams daily. That’s a good dose.
Collagen can also strengthen your joints, increasing their resilience to injury and pain. Several studies have found that taking hydrolyzed collagen decreases joint pain and increases the density of your cartilage, making your joints more flexible. This becomes important as you age because your body starts producing less collagen.
Collagen is also a great hack for athletes, particularly if your preferred exercise is tough on your joints. Long-distance running is the worst offender. Most sports take their toll, as can heavy lifting if you aren’t vigilant about your form. If any of those apply to you, collagen may save you an injury or two.
If you do end up getting injured, collagen can help with that too. It’s the main protein your body recruits to heal everything from acne to a torn Achilles tendon; it works well for several reasons:
- Collagen forms a flexible matrix, covering damaged tissue while still allowing it to move. It acts as a sort of scaffold that holds everything together so other cells can rebuild.
- It fights off bacteria, which helps to keep wounds sterile.
- It can assimilate with surrounding tissue, helping to close a wound.
In one study, hydrolyzed collagen sped up ulcer healing by about 200%. Your gut bacteria break collagen down into short-chain fatty acids that the cells lining your intestinal wall can use for fuel, so collagen can help you with gut issues and stave off leaky gut syndrome. And while there haven’t been specific studies on collagen and acne, anecdotal evidence suggests that it can help with that as well.
Your body’s collagen needs go up when you’re injured. If you’re recovering from something, try taking 10g of collagen or collagelatin 2-3 times per day.
Collagen has been one of my top sleep hacks for years. I take it about an hour before bed most nights and almost always when I’m traveling. It doesn’t disappoint.
Collagen’s sleep-promoting qualities may be thanks to its high glycine content. People with trouble sleeping nodded off more quickly, got into deep sleep faster, and reported less daytime sleepiness the following day when they took glycine before bed. They also did better on a memory task, which is another indicator that they were more rested.
In another study, participants who took glycine before bed reported less fatigue and a clearer head the next day, and a third study found that glycine doesn’t contribute to daytime sleepiness, even if you take it during the day  – so you don’t have to worry about adding collagen to your morning coffee and crashing a few hours later.