As a general rule, it can be a good idea to start taking collagen between the ages of 20 and 30.
The body’s natural collagen production starts to decrease around age 30, but there could be benefits to getting a head start on boosting the body’s collagen status.
This article will explain why people take collagen and what signs to look for when deciding whether you want to start supplementing with collagen.
Why do people take collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body. It has been linked to several health benefits.
People may choose to take collagen for many reasons. It has been suggested that collagen can make skin appear more youthful, improve joint health, support gut health, and more.
Perhaps the most notable benefits of collagen are its effects on the skin.
Collagen has been shown to reduce and prevent wrinkles. Plus, collagen can help skin stay firm, hydrated, and smooth (1, 2).
There is also research to support collagen’s benefits for joint health. In fact, athletes who supplement with collagen have less joint pain, and in turn, improved athletic performance (3).
People may also choose to take collagen supplements to improve symptoms of osteoarthritis (4).
Another common reason for people to take collagen supplements is for improved gut health. Since collagen is one of the main proteins found in the intestines, supplementing with collagen may strengthen the gut lining (5, 6).
Clearly, there are many reasons someone may choose to take collagen, and this section briefly notes a few.
What is a good age to start taking collagen?
The body begins to produce less collagen starting as early as in our 20s.
In fact, it has been estimated that collagen production continues to decrease about 1% each year. By the time we are 40 years old, collagen production is greatly reduced.
This decline in collagen has an impact on our skin, hair, nails, bones, joints, and gut health.
Therefore, we should begin taking collagen early to support our body’s collagen status – before our levels dip too low.
If we start taking collagen early – like in our 20s – we can help to keep collagen levels up even if our body begins to naturally produce less.
What are the signs of collagen deficiency?
But of course, we are all unique, and so is the collagen production within our bodies.
So, there is no one age that is right for all of us to start supplementing with collagen. It’s better to look for signs of collagen deficiency, and then decide if supplementing is right for you.
For example, if you notice your skin is losing hydration or firmness, or perhaps if you start experiencing too many digestive issues.
Or if you’re an athlete, and there’s a significant stress on your joints and bones, then it might be a good idea to provide them extra support and start collagen supplementation from your mid-late 20s.
For a more detailed explanation, check out our guide on how to identify collagen deficiency symptoms, and how to remedy them.
How to increase collagen naturally?
As our body produces less collagen (7), there are dietary and lifestyle habits that we can adopt to promote our body’s natural collagen production.
The following section lists foods to include or exclude, and habits to consider to naturally increase our body’s collagen.
Eat vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables
Our body requires vitamin C to make collagen. Choose foods such as oranges, grapefruits, strawberries, bell peppers, and spinach.
Drink bone broth
Bone broth is naturally rich in collagen, and so by consuming it we boost our body’s natural collagen status.
Eat more high-quality protein
Our body requires protein sources like meat, seafood, dairy products, beans, and/or tofu in order to make proteins – such as collagen.
Reduce added sugar intake
High intakes of added sugar can impair not only our overall health but also our collagen production.
Smoking causes inflammation, which can lead to the breakdown of collagen, leaving the skin dull, rough, and less hydrated (8).
Avoid excess sun
Chronic exposure to UV radiation damages collagen. Be sure to always protect your skin with sunscreen (9).
Does collagen make you look younger?
Collagen can in fact make you look younger, thanks to its ability to strengthen the skin. Collagen boosts firmness, elasticity, and reduces the appearance of wrinkles.
As we age, our skin loses collagen. Therefore, supplementation with collagen can boost our collagen status, leading to more youthful-appearing skin.
One study in Skin Pharmacology and Physiology suggested that after just 2 months of daily collagen supplementation, skin elasticity can be improved (10).
An easy way to add collagen peptides to your diet is this delicious skin-boosting collagen strawberry smoothie recipe.
What are the side effects of taking collagen?
Since collagen is a natural protein that our body already makes, collagen appears to be safe to consume with no noted side effects.
With that being said, although rare, some people have reported mild side effects from collagen supplementation such as slight gastrointestinal upset, bloat, or a rash.
If you have an allergy to certain proteins, it’s important to avoid collagen from these sources. For example, if you have a fish allergy, you should avoid marine collagen sourced from fish.
Of course, if you experience any negative side effects from supplementing with collagen, it’s best to discontinue using it and speak with a healthcare professional.
Is collagen safe for kidneys?
Collagen contains an amino acid called hydroxyproline, which can potentially increase urinary oxalate excretion if consumed in high amounts. An increase in oxalates can lead to kidney stones.
However, for most people, taking collagen supplements in moderation as part of a healthy diet is quite unlikely to cause any harm.
Keep in mind that those at a higher risk for developing kidney stones may want to limit their intake of collagen.
Is collagen good for a teenager?
If you begin taking a collagen supplement at a young age, you may not see any significant benefit. After all, you’re likely already making just what you need.
However, the exception here may be for young athletes, as collagen supplementation can provide a benefit to joint health and speed up exercise recovery.
Of course, before introducing a new supplement into your diet, it’s recommended to first consult your physician or dietitian.
How much collagen should you take per day?
In short, how much collagen you should take per day will depend on your current lifestyle habits and your specific goals.
Although it depends on the person, most people will benefit from taking 10 grams of collagen peptides daily for 1-3 months.
Perhaps most important is to be consistent with your collagen supplement routine, and ensure you are eating a balanced diet to reap the most benefit from your collagen supplement.