By Melissa Mitri, RD
Collagen is best known for its role in supporting skin health and vitality, which may be appealing for many women trying to slow the aging process. But men’s skin ages too! Additionally, collagen offers many additional benefits beyond just skin: It can also be beneficial for your bones, joints and muscles.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies, making up approximately 30% of our total body protein. It is the connective protein in the skin, joints, ligaments and bones. As you age, you start to lose collagen and the body is unable to effectively replace what has been lost. Men and women lose collagen at the same rate and usually the loss begins around age 25. It’s no exaggeration to say that collagen is essential for the optimal functioning of our bodies.
Some of the most common reasons many women take collagen are to protect their skin from aging and prevent wrinkles; manage pain and stiffness in their joints; or strengthen hair and nails. These same ailments or symptoms also commonly occur in men.
Collagen is important to preserve bone density, playing a role in maintaining physical strength for men and women. Additionally, if you like to exercise and engage in resistance training, taking collagen supplements may improve your muscle mass and strength, making resistance exercises easier and more effective.
A 2015 study of 53 older men found that those that took collagen supplements improved their body composition and overall strength compared to those who did not.
One of the primary roles of collagen is to maintain the elasticity of joints and connective tissue. Having less than optimal collagen levels can affect the overall health of joints and bones, impacting physical strength. Taking collagen supplements may help stimulate your tissues to make more collagen to maintain joint health — especially as you age.
Arthritis is a very common condition in both men and women, especially in those that are older or are overweight. And even though overall arthritis is more common in women over 45 years old, younger men are at risk of osteoarthritis. Being able to stay active with arthritis can help improve symptoms of the disease.
A 2016 study evaluated the use of collagen supplements in combination with acetaminophen in patients with osteoarthritis. Thirty-nine patients received either acetaminophen alone or a combination of collagen and acetaminophen.
After three months of treatment, the group that received collagen and acetaminophen in combination showed significant improvements in joint pain, quality of life and joint function when compared with the other group.
Collagen can play a huge role in managing symptoms of arthritis that impact quality of life so you can stay active and enjoy your life to its fullest.
Research shows that regular collagen supplementation is required to maintain its anti-aging benefits.