Collagen supplements give the promise of healthier hair, nails, skin, joints, and more, but when can you expect to experience those benefits?
When you finally decide to buy a collagen supplement, you can’t help but feel a little excited, right?
Collagen supplements come with so much promise, from healthy hair, skin, and nails, to reduced joint pain; how could you not be excited? Most likely, after one or two days of taking collagen, you might find yourself looking in the mirror questioning if you see a difference.
Does your skin look smoother yet?
Is it your hair sleeker yet?
What about your nails? Are they less brittle?
No? Why not?
Well, in a world of next day shipping and the ability to stream music and movies instantly from almost anywhere, we’ve all gotten in a mindset of expecting instant gratification all the time. When we want something, we want it as soon as possible. However, some things in life still can not and will not be rushed. And one of those things is our body.
As much as we want to see instant results from our collagen supplements, it might take a little time. Patience can go a long way when we begin to make changes within our mind and body.
So, how long should you anticipate to wait before those pesky fine lines start going away? It depends. So let’s dive in and find out when to expect results from your collagen supplement.
What is Collagen?
Before we dive into the discussion of how long it takes collagen to work, let’s first make sure we have a good understanding of what collagen actually is.
Outside of helping reduce fine lines and wrinkles, collagen plays a vital role in our overall health and wellbeing. Collagen is considered the building block of the human body because it is the most abundant protein found within us. It is also the primary component of connective tissues that make up several parts of the body, including tendons, ligaments, skin, and muscles.
At least 16 types of collagen are within the human body; however, most collagen supplements tend only to use the four main collagens (I, II, III, IV). Nonetheless, all 16 types play active roles in our overall health, from joint health to that desired radiant skin and hair.
As we age, the body’s natural collagen production slows, triggering the aging process. That’s why a collagen supplement can help counteract collagen deficiency. The majority of collagen supplements contain what is known as hydrolyzed collagen. Hydrolyzed is simply a form of collagen that is broken down, making it easier for the body to absorb.
Benefits of Collagen and What It Does For You
As I mentioned before, most collagen supplements tend to contain the four main types of collagen. So, let’s take a look at each of the main collagen types first and gain a better understanding of what each of them does to help support us.
- Type I Collagen: Type I is the most abundant collagen in our body, accounting for 90% of all collagen in our skin, ligaments, joints, and connective tissue. We need Type I because it is a significant building block of skin and bone health. It assembles into dense fibers that then form blood vessel walls, corneas, and other tissue.
- Type II Collagen: This type of collagen plays a vital role in joint and cartilage health. It makes up 10% of the total collagen in the human body and is 50-60% of collagen present in cartilage and ligaments. Some studies suggest that when paired with other biomarkers, Type II collagen may even treat osteoarthritis. Type II cartilage is also responsible for strengthening the cartilage found in the ears, nose, and bronchial tubes.
- Type III Collagen: Type III Collagen is the second most abundant collagen found in the human body and plays a crucial role in joint health. Together with Type I collagen, Type III helps create a healthy inflammation response and promote strong joints and cartilage, counteracting wear and tear that occurs over time.
- Type IV Collagen: This collagen aids in the filtration of the kidneys and other organs. It exists naturally as building blocks in various layers of the skin. These layers of skin often surround our muscles, organs, and fat cells. Type IV collagen is also thought to be essential to wound healing and the forming of an embryo.
Another benefit to collagen is its ability to aid in weight loss by boosting muscle mass. Between 1-10% of our muscles are composed of collagen, which is critical for helping our muscles function correctly. Collagen helps synthesize muscle proteins such as creatine and promote muscle growth after exercise.
Since the body burns more calories to maintain muscle, your thermal effect increases, meaning you burn more calories while resting. As a result, the more calories you burn, the more your body taps into stored fat for that energy, resulting in weight loss. Collagen can also aid in weight loss by helping suppress appetite, making you feel fuller for longer.
Research has shown that regularly taking collagen supplements can help reduce the risk of heart-related diseases. One study found that regular collagen intake resulted in a significant reduction of artery stiffness. Another study found that collagen also increased HDL levels, aka “good cholesterol,” by nearly 6%, which helps reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
As already mentioned, collagen also plays a role in supporting healthy bones. But for women, taking collagen can be even more beneficial as a way to prevent developing osteoporosis. One study researching the effects of collagen on bone health found that women who took a regular collagen supplement had a 7% increase in their bone mass density.
Perhaps one of the most significant benefits collagen has been proven to provide is improved joint health. As collagen levels begin to decrease as a result of aging, the risk of developing joint disorders increases. A few studies have provided evidence that taking collagen improves joint function and can improve symptoms of osteoarthritis. Researchers have theorized that when we take a collagen supplement, it accumulates within cartilage and promotes the development of collagen within the tissue. As a result, this leads to lowered inflammation and helps counteract the effects of wear and tear on the joints.
How Long Does It Take for Collagen To Work?
Now we come down to the ultimate question of how long it takes for collagen supplements to work. As with anything regarding health, it can vary from person to person.
A study researching the effects of oral collagen peptides on reducing visible signs of aging had a staggered time frame. Some candidates began seeing results after the first week, though most saw minor results begin appearing around week four of the study. However, by week 12, almost all candidates saw significant results, with wrinkles being reduced up to 31.2%.
Regarding hair, one collagen perception trial found similar results. In the trial, an examination was performed every two weeks for 12 weeks. Within two weeks, the candidates in the trial were already beginning to notice signs of healthier hair. By week four, the examination revealed that the majority of the candidates had sleeker and healthier hair. By week eight, all the candidates reported reduced use of conditioner in their hair due to it feeling healthier.
Because hair and nails are both composed of the same tough protein called keratin, candidates also noticed an improvement in nail health as well.
Multiple factors contribute to how long collagen may work for each of us, from dietary, environmental, and even genetic factors. You might be someone who sees results within a few days, or it might take a few weeks. The key is always to be patient and allow your body time to do what it needs to do, in the time it requires to do it.
How Much Collagen Should I Take Daily?
When it comes to how much collagen you should take in a day, the answers vary once again.
In a study to research the health benefits of taking oral collagen, doses as small as 2.5 grams and upward of 10 grams were evaluated and found effective. However, most collagen supplements contain doses of 20 to 30 grams.
The good news is that there are no known side-effects of taking collagen. However, it should be noted that if you are someone who experiences allergic reactions to food, be aware of where a collagen supplement is sourced from. The majority of collagen comes from fish (including shellfish), bovine (cows), and poultry. There are plant-based collagen supplements available if you are sensitive to or prefer not to consume animal products.
Regardless, before beginning any supplementation, it is always advisable to speak with your physician or dietitian to ensure that it is right for you.
Collagen Supplements, The Benefits Are Worth the Wait
So if you’ve just begun taking a collagen supplement, remember the adage, “Good things come to those who wait.” As much as you want it to start working immediately, it does take time.
All of us would love to take a collagen supplement, go to bed, and wake up the next morning to radiant, smoother skin, sleek hair, and healthy nails. Not to mention being able to move with less joint pain!
But alas, that is not how it works.
Nevertheless, knowing the benefits that collagen supplementation offers makes waiting worth it. In the long run, waiting a little while for healthier skin that has reduced signs of aging, hair that is no longer dry and brittle but instead stronger and sleeker, and nails that no longer break easily isn’t so bad.
Not to mention the benefits collagen also provides healthier bones, stronger ligaments, and even helping with good heart health. Imagine being able to wake up and not feel stiff and sore from inflamed joints. Wouldn’t that be lovely and worth the wait? Definitely.
And with the fact that collagen supplements are generally safe for everyone, why not try them for their potential, long-term benefits?
Just remember what your mother told you, “Patience is key.”