There are several benefits you’ll notice from taking a daily collagen supplement including firmer skin, stronger hair and nails, amongst many other major benefits.
Because collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, it is super necessary for many areas in the body. Many people may wonder how long it takes to notice a benefit from taking collagen.
Continue reading this article to learn more about collagen and understand when you can expect to start seeing results.
What Is Collagen?
Collagen is found everywhere in our body – in the gut, muscles, bones, skin, tendons, and even our internal organs.
Our bodies naturally produce collagen, but as we age the rate at which we make collagen decreases – hence, we start noticing sagging skin, wrinkles, and achy joints.
In fact, after age 20, it is rumored that most people start producing 1% less collagen in their skin each year. Therefore, it’s a good idea to start taking a collagen supplement sooner than later.
What Are the Benefits of Taking Collagen?
In this next section, we’ll discuss a bit about the benefits of taking a daily collagen supplement.
For one, collagen supplements have been shown to improve skin elasticity, making it appear firmer and more moisturized, with a youthful glow.
According to a study in Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, those who took collagen peptides daily for two months saw significant improvement in skin elasticity compared to those who took a placebo (1).
Collagen also helps strengthen hair and nails (2, 3). If you have brittle nails and frequent split ends, a collagen supplement may do just the trick.
But collagen does more than enhance our cosmetic and beauty routine. People with joint pain have experienced significant benefits from collagen. Plus, it has been suggested to improve the health of the gut and immune system.
While it is totally possible to get collagen from foods, taking a powder supplement ensures you are consuming enough to see a real benefit. Plus, collagen powder is super versatile as you can enjoy it blended in a smoothie, soup, or even dessert recipe.
How Does Our Body Digest Collagen?
Before beginning to understand how long it may take for collagen to work, it’s important to take a brief look into the science behind how we digest, absorb, and metabolize collagen.
Collagen – like all proteins – is composed of a link of amino acids. This link is called a peptide.
Once we consume protein, hydrochloric acid digestive enzymes – specifically proteases from the pancreas – break down the protein into amino acids and smaller peptide chains.
These peptides and amino acids are then absorbed into the small intestine where they enter the bloodstream.
When we consume collagen from animal products it is likely not as readily available for our body to use, since we have to do more work to break down this protein and digest it.
Collagen peptides found in supplemental form are more bioavailable and easier for the body to use since it is essentially a pre-digested form of collagen.
How Long Does It Take for Collagen to Work?
Once collagen peptides are absorbed into the bloodstream, our bodies can use this collagen pretty quickly – even within an hour collagen peptides can start working their magic in our cells.
In general, the time it takes for collagen to work depends on the current collagen levels in your body. If you have super low collagen levels, you may notice more of a dramatic difference once you start taking it.
On the other hand, if you have a high collagen status, you may not notice as dramatic of an effect.
Essentially, the lower the collagen levels, the faster you’ll likely notice a difference.
If you’re taking collagen for your skin, you may notice a difference in a matter of weeks. According to a study by the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, collagen peptides substantially reduced wrinkles by over 30% after 3 months. Some participants in the study saw results even after just four weeks, so it may vary from person to person (4).
Other studies showed significant improvement in skin elasticity in a matter of eight to twelve weeks (5, 6).
If you’re taking collagen to reduce joint pain, it may in fact take a bit longer to notice improvements.
Athletes who took daily 10 grams of collagen peptides daily reported significant improvements in joint pain after 24 weeks. This is all the more reason to ensure you are consistently taking your collagen supplement to reap the most benefit.
It may depend on how much you take
Like with many things, the dose determines the effect. Collagen peptide supplements are no different.
The body requires a frequent supply of collagen. After all, it is the most abundant protein in the body, so we need it in many places for optimal health.
For example, if you have low amounts of collagen and you begin to consistently take 10 grams of collagen peptides daily, you would likely see a benefit relatively quickly.
On the other hand, if you only sporadically take collagen peptides, or maybe only take half of the recommended dose, it would only make sense that it would be a bit longer before you start noticing results.
Age plays a role
As we age, our bodies naturally begin to produce less collagen. This reduction in collagen is one of the factors in why skin starts to sag and why we may experience joint pain when we get older.
One of the main factors that influences the effectiveness of collagen supplements is age.
When you’re young, your body is producing plenty of collagen.
If you begin taking a collagen supplement at a young age, you likely won’t see any significant benefit. After all, you’re making just what you need.
The potential exception here is if you have a condition or auto-immune disease that interferes with collagen production. If this is the case, please consult with your physician to see if collagen supplementation is right for you.
On the other hand, after our body’s collagen production starts to decline, it is way more likely you’ll notice a benefit from collagen supplementation.
Ensure a Balanced, Healthy Diet For Optimal Results
Be sure not to discount the importance of a well-balanced, whole-foods diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, legumes, and healthy fats.
Collagen peptide supplementation is a fantastic addition to a healthy diet to encourage healthy skin, hair, and nails, as well as supporting healthy joints and a strong immune system.
However, if your diet is lacking in other areas, collagen can only do so much.
Be sure to eat a diet rich in whole, unprocessed foods.
Aim to limit your intake of added sugars, refined flours and oils, sodium, and processed foods, as these types of foods can impair skin health, gut health, immune health, and increase inflammation.
Essentially, a poor diet works against the benefits you are aiming to see by taking collagen in the first place.
Many people take collagen supplements to improve the health of their skin, hair, nails, digestion, and more. There are many studies to support the effectiveness of taking collagen peptides, specifically, as these are more easily absorbed by the body.
How long it takes for collagen supplements to work depends on many factors including age, dosage, diet and lifestyle, and individual collagen needs.
In general, most people will see a benefit after taking 10 grams of collagen peptides daily for 4-12 weeks. However, keep in mind that this will vary from person to person.
Most importantly, ensure to eat a healthy, balanced diet, rich in whole foods to reap the most benefit from your collagen supplement.
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