Collagen: Definition, Types, Health Benefits, Causes, Side Effects and More


According to the Cleveland Clinic collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. It is found in the bones, skin, muscle and tendons. Doctors use collagen in wound healing techniques. Collagen also features in many cosmetic preparations for the skin. Many people take collagen supplements or add collagen powder to their daily routine to support their skin, joints, and hair. They might mix collagen powder into their morning coffee, tea, or smoothie. Although collagen supplements and other collagen products are becoming more popular many people don’t know what collagen is or what it does in the body. This article will explain everything you need to know about collagen, including what it is, its role in your body and whether collagen supplements are beneficial.

What is Collagen and Why is it Important?

It forms a scaffold that provides strength and structure within the body. It is an essential component of connective tissues and plays a crucial role in holding the body’s cells together. It also provides strength and elasticity to the skin. Endogenous collagen is natural collagen that the body synthesizes. Exogenous collagen is synthetic. It comes from an outside source such as supplements. Endogenous collagen has a number of important functions. Breakdown and depletion are various health problems such as scurvy. People use exogenous collagen for cosmetic purposes such as improving skin elasticity. Doctors also use it in techniques for wound healing. It is tough, insoluble, fibrous, and protein. It plays a major role in many structures, such as:

  • Skin
  • Tendons
  • Blood vessels
  • Tissue repair
  • Immune response
  • Cellular communication
  • Cellular migration, a process necessary for tissue maintenance
  • Cartilage
  • Bone
  • Connective tissue which anchors cells to each other

A network of the modules that holds together the body’s tissues. Healthy collagen levels contribute to:

  • Joint health
  • Protection of the kidney and others organs
  • Skin elasticity
  • A healthy cardiovascular system

It is plentiful in the human body. According to some older research one-third of the protein in the human body and three-quarters of the dry weight of skin consist of it. There are around 28 types of it and they all have different structures. Most are formed of fibrils which are long, thin structures that are strong and flexible. In the skin, it provides strength and elasticity. As people get older their it levels fall and its fibers become thinner and weaker. Some experts believe this may contribute to skin aging. For this reason many skin care products contain forms of it.

What are the Types of Collagen?

Its supplements come in a variety of types. A person should choose the supplement that best supports their goals when picking a type. The following are the most common types of a person can find in stores or online:

  • Type 1: This is one of the most abundant types present in the human body and helps support healthy skin.
  • Type 2: This is present primarily in cartilage and can help promote joint health.
  • Type 3: This type also helps promote skin health by improving elasticity.
  • Type 5: This types promote the growth of the placenta in pregnant women.
  • Type 10: This type also occurs in cartilage and helps promote bone health and development.

Most supplements will contain several of these and possibly other types of  it. Also in many cases the collagen is hydrolyzed. Undergoing the hydrolyzation process makes collagen easier for the body to absorb.

What are the Health Benefits of Collagen?

Its supplements are available in the form of tablets, capsules, and powders. Many are available to buy online. Whether or not collagen supplements are effective depends on what a person uses it for. There are several potential health benefits that supplements offer. However, scientists have not fully studied all the alleged benefits. Also, as with any supplement the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not evaluate any claims that a company makes on how well their product works. However, some of the potential health benefits of it supplements include:

Better Skin Health:

Some people who take the supplements are looking to improve the look and overall health of their skin. Many believe that supplements can help reduce the effects of aging such as by adding moisture to the skin, reducing wrinkles and improving elasticity.

Improved Joint Health:

As a person ages their joints start to break down. In particular the spongy cartilage of the joints starts to wear away. There is some evidence to suggest that collagen supplements can help with restoring or preventing the deterioration of the cartilage in the joints.

Increased Muscle Mass:

There is some evidence to suggest that using the supplements may help increase muscle mass.

Prevents Bone Loss:

It makes up a significant amount of bone structure and helps keep the bones strong. As a person ages and its production slow, bones can become weaker as the person loses the necessary to keep bones strong and supported. This can lead to the supplement of conditions such as osteoporosis.

Supports Heart Health:

Taking the supplements may also help support a healthy cardiovascular system. In a small study of 30 participants half took 16 g of tripeptide for 6 months. This group saw a significant reduction in artery stiffness and a reduction in their low-density lipoprotein or bad cholesterol levels. Reducing the stiffness of arteries can help promote heart health. However, more research is necessary to prove the effects of it in supporting heart health.

Other Potential Benefits:

There are also claims that it may provide additional health benefits. However, these claims do not have backing by scientific research. Some other potential things that it may help with include:

  • Maintaining a healthy gut
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Reducing anxiety
  • Improving mood
  • Promoting healthy nail and hair growth

What are the Uses of Collagen in Medical and Cosmetics?

Some types of it are resorbable. This means they can be broken down, converted and absorbed back into the body. It can also be formed into structures outside the body with various medical uses. Products that aim to boost its levels can originate from humans and other species.

Skin Fillers:

Fillers that combine dermal fillers with hyaluronic acid may increase skin elasticity by boosting its production. This can help enlarge tissues filling gaps such as wrinkles in the skin. People use them to:

  • Reduce wrinkles
  • Improve the contours of the skin
  • Fill out depressions
  • Improve the appearance of scars

Manufacturers source these products from humans and other species. One filler uses cells from salmon and other fish. People should check the origin of their product and test first for any allergic reactions.

Wound Dressing:

It plays a key role in the natural process of wound healing. Aspects that applications of it can help with include:

  • Controlling bleeding
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Managing blood vessel health and function
  • Boosting the strength of scar tissue
  • Restoring skin elasticity
  • Attracting cells that promote wound healing
  • Providing a platform for new tissue growth

Its wound dressing contains it and other substances that aim to boost healing. They can take the form of:

  • Dressing for example of sponge or fleece
  • Gels
  • Powders

Guided Tissues Regeneration:

  • Doctors sometimes use it to form scaffolds. These provide temporary support while the body produces new cells during the healing process. Membranes, plug, or pads containing it can help with
  • Bone regeneration
  • Wound healing
  • Managing extraction sockets after dental surgery
  • Promoting blood clotting

A research of 2011 notes that in oral surgery it barriers can prevent fast-growing cells around the gum from migrating to a wound in a tooth. This preserves a space where tooth cells have the chance to regenerate. Since these membranes are resorbable, a surgeon doesn’t need to remove them surgically once healing is complete.

Treatment of Osteoarthritis:

It is essential for healthy cartilage and bones. Some people say that taking supplements containing hydrolysate may boost it levels and help manage symptoms of osteoarthritis. In 2018 scientists published the results of a trial involving 120 people, half of whom took oral supplements containing it and other substances for 90 days, while the others took a placebo. In those who took collagen joint pain fell by 43% and joint mobility improved by 39%. Further studies are needed to confirm that oral it can improve joint health.

Skin Revitalization:

Boosting its production or preventing its decline may help keep skin strong, elastic and younger-looking. Possible ways of doing this include:

  • Surgical treatments such as injecting fillers
  • Applying creams and other products
  • Oral supplements containing hydrolyzed bioactive collagen peptides, vitamins, and antioxidants
  • Dietary choices that provide nutrients and antioxidants that prevent oxidative stress

Consuming hydrolyzed it and certain nutrients may help boost its production or prevent its loss according to some researchers. Creams, powders, and other topical cosmetics that contain it often claim to revitalize the skin by increasing its levels in the body. However, studies have not shown that the skin can absorb the necessary ingredients in a way that will make a significant difference.

What Foods are Rich in Collagen?

Collagen is a protein found in all animals, concentrated in certain parts like skin and joints. Some examples of foods rich in collagen are:

  • Animal parts like bones, skin, and ligaments (chicken skin, pig knuckles)
  • Certain seafoods like fish skin and jellyfish
  • Product made from animal parts like bone broth

Your body naturally makes collagen from amino acids found in protein rich foods like poultry, fish, beans and eggs. Other nutrients are also important for collagen production and maintenance. For instance vitamin C is necessary for collagen synthesis. Low levels of vitamin C can lead to reduced collagen production, so it’s important to consume foods rich in vitamin C like citrus fruits, peppers, greens and berries. Eating a diet high in beneficial plant compounds can also help improve skin health by reducing inflammation and protecting against collagen breakdown.

What Causes Collagen Loss?

Factors that may contribute to lead to it loss or low levels include:

  • Hormonal changes due to pregnancy, menopause, and health conditions, and so on
  • Oxidative stress which results from metabolic processes and lifestyle choices such as smoking and diet
  • The natural process of aging
  • Too much sun exposure as ultraviolet rays can cause collagen to break down in the skin
  • Low levels of ascorbic acid also known as vitamin C, which can lead to scurvy

Some genetic conditions can affect the production of it. Osteogenesis imperfecta can lead to weak bones. Ehlers-Danlos syndrome can produce a range of symptoms depending on which types of EDS the person has. Both conditions can be fatal in some cases.

What are the Side Effects of Collagen?

Taking the supplements as a healthcare professional directs is generally safe. A person should always talk to their doctor before starting any new supplements or increasing the use of any existing supplements. In general the side effects of it supplements are mild and can include:

  • Diarrhea
  • A general feeling of heaviness in the stomach
  • Rashes
  • Otherwise, in most adults, taking collagen supplements should not pose any significant health risk.

What is the Preventing Collagen Loss?

Here are some strategies that may help prevent it loss:

  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables as they contains vitamins and antioxidants
  • Avoid smoking and processed foods which increase the risk of oxidative stress
  • Protect the skin from sun exposure
  • Ask a dermatologist about supplements and other products

What to know About Collagen Supplements?

It is the protein responsible for the skin’s elasticity. It also plays a role in joint and bone health. It is one of the most plentiful proteins in mammals. As the production of it in a person’s body slows down, their skin begins to lose some of its ability to bounce back into shape, a process that many call elasticity. As this occurs wrinkles begin to form. Although certain foods such as bone health broth contain it, people who want wrinkle free skin or other health benefits often look to supplements to increase their intake.

Are they Suitable for Vegans and Vegetarians?

Most supplements are note vegan or vegetarian friendly. Manufacturers tend to produce them using the bones and protein of animals. However, some vegan and vegetarian options are available. The vegan options may not be available everywhere but many are available online. A person can also use  supplements while on a ketogenic diet plan. Similar to vegan options a person may want to look for a supplement that specifically aims to support the keto diet.

What is Gelatin made of and is it Good For You?

Gelatin is made of animal bones, cartilage and skin. Common ingredients are soups, broths, sauces, gummy candies, marshmallows, cosmetics and medications. This common thickening and gelling agent is an animal-based product that contains high levels of protein.

What is Gelatin Made Of ?

Manufacturers produce gelatin by processing animal bones, cartilage, and skin. They may use the bodies of cows or fish. The process extracts the collagen, a fibrous protein that connects muscles, bones, and skin, and turns it into gelatin, a flavorless, colorless, jelly-like substance.

Is Gelatin Vegetarian or Vegan?

Gelatin is not vegetarian or vegan. It comes from processed animal tissue. However, vegetarian and vegan gelatin substitutes are widely available in some areas.

Is Gelatin Gluten Free?

Gelatin is gluten free. However, some products that contain it such as soups and desserts may also contain gluten.

Is Gelatin a Protein?

Gelatin is a high protein product, for example 100 grams of dry gelatin powder contain more than 85g of protein.

Amino Acids in Gelatin:

Protein consists of various amino acids and gelatin contains several of these. The types of amino acids in gelatin based foods depend on the specific food the source of the gelatin and its processing. Typically the most abundant amino acids in gelatin are glycine and proline. The bones and organs of some animals contain the amino acids in gelatin and by eating gelatin a person can obtain these amino acids.

What are the Uses and Benefits of Gelatin?

Gelatin may provide a number of health benefits, such as:

Gelatin vs. Collagen:

It is a protein that helps from bones, muscle, and skin and it is crucial to overall health. Companies process animal-derived collagen to make gelatin. Gelatin and collagen contain similar proteins and laboratory tests suggest that consuming gelatin as part of a varied diet may provide comparable benefits to consuming collagen.

Gelatin vs. Pectin:

Pectin is a thickening and gelling agent. In cooking it can serve the same purpose as gelatin. However, pectin is plant-based and suitable for vegetarians and vegans. Companies typically make pectin from the skin of fruits and vegetables. As a result pectin is high in carbohydrates but low in protein unlike gelatin. There is less than 1g of protein per 100g of dry pectin powder.

Gelatin vs. Agar:

Like Pectin agar is a plant-based thickening and setting agent. Companies typically make agar from seaweed extracts. It has little nutritional content but it can be a helpful gelatin substitute in vegetarian and vegan cooking.


Who do people use collagen?

Collagen helps with healthy joints, skin elasticity and more. Your body makes it naturally and you can consume it. It’s in certain foods but you can also get it from drinks or supplements. Just make sure you get your supplements from a trustworthy and high quality brand.

Does collagen have side effects?

The side effects of collagen supplements are usually not major. After taking the supplement some people have mild digestive symptoms or a bad taste in their mouth.

Is collagen halal?

For this reason, It’s difficult to say whether any specific animal derived collagen is halal as it depends on the methods used to slaughter the cows or chickens. Some collagen brands or products are certified halal, so you should always check the labels and websites on a case-by-case basis.

Is collagen protein or fat?

Collagen is a protein that the body makes naturally. It makes up about a third of the total protein in the body and is essential for healthy joints.

Does collagen whiten skin?

No, collagen alone cannot completely whiten the skin. It can only reduce the production of melanin which can lead to a brighter and more even complexion.

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