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Menopause? Here Are 10 Science-Backed Ways Collagen Can Ease Your Symptoms

If you landed on this article, then you may be nearing the end of premenopause and moving into the perimenopause or menopause phase of life.

 

Believe it or not, there’s good news to be had in these two stages.

 

In this article, you’ll learn what collagen is, the ever-changing stages of menopause, and 10 ways that collagen can alleviate its symptoms—both before and during.

What Is Collagen?

Collagen is a protein that’s naturally found in all living things. In humans, it’s a vital component of bones, joints, cartilage, skin, the gut, and more. Thus, it’s known as the glue that holds the body together (rightly so) (1).

 

Here’s the thing: Collagen begins to DECLINE as early as your 20s (2). So, when you reach 50 years of age, your collagen has been cut in half (ouch). This is why a collagen supplement is crucial to healthy aging (and showing menopause who’s boss).

Collagen Decline by Age

However, not all collagen is created equal. Why, you ask?

 

Because the main type of collagen found in the body is Type 1 Collagen—not Type 2, 4, 5, or any of the other 25 types. Type 1 is found in the skin, bone, tendons, and ligaments (3).

 

The second most abundant type of collagen in the body is Type 3, found in the skin, blood vessels, and intestines (3).

 

With that being said, your collagen supplement should contain both Type 1 and Type 3 Collagen.

The Stages of Menopause

Graphic Showing the Stages of Menopause

There are 4 stages of menopause:

  1. Premenopause (your normal productive life)
  2. Perimenopause (the period between your last regular period and your last period)
  3. Menopause (after your last period)
  4. Postmenopause

 

For the purpose of this article, we are going to focus on Stages 2 and 3—perimenopause and menopause.

Perimenopause & Menopause Symptoms

If there was a pause button for perimenopause and menopause symptoms, we’d all use it.

 

For most women, perimenopause strikes at around age 47 and lasts for about 4 years. You’ll know you hit perimenopause when…

 

Your periods become irregular. Hot flashes come out of nowhere. And/or you experience a pendulum of emotions on the daily (4).

A full list of perimenopause symptoms includes:

  • Changes in your period (light or very heavy, long or short)
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Irregular periods
  • Hot flashes
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Sleep problems
  • Mood changes (high highs to low lows)
  • Forgetfulness
  • Bone loss

 

Menopause, on the other hand, marks the end of a woman’s menstrual cycle and fertility. It typically starts around age 51, but you’ll know you’ve officially hit menopause if (5):

 

  • It has been a year since you’ve had your last period.
  • Your ovaries no longer make estrogen or progesterone (the two hormones needed for fertility).

Symptoms of menopause include:

  • Hormone changes
  • Mood swings
  • Lower sex drive
  • Hot flashes
  • Sweating
  • Racing heart
  • Headaches
  • Vaginal dryness and soreness
  • Painful sex
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Night sweats
  • Hair and skin become drier and thinner
  • Weight gain around the waist
  • Stiff joints

 

Although it seems like menopause comes with a whole host of problems, at least you can celebrate the end of periods!

10 Ways Collagen Can Alleviate Perimenopause and Menopause Symptoms

Woman Holding a Scoop of Collagen by Glass of Water on Pink Background

Life doesn’t end once perimenopause or menopause hits. There are natural, science-backed ways to alleviate the symptoms of these two stages.

1. Collagen Combats Aging Skin

With age (and menopause) comes a huge loss of collagen in the skin.

 

One 1999 study measured the percentage of Type 1 and Type 3 Collagen in the skin of 32 women (14 in premenopause and 18 in postmenopause). It found that in the first 5 years of menopause, women lost approximately 30% of Type 1 and Type 3 skin collagens (6).

 

It’s no wonder that wrinkles, dry skin, and crepe-like skin become the norm once you hit your 50s.

 

But as Mark Twain so wisely (and optimistically) states—“Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.”

2. Collagen Strengthens Hair (AND Slows Graying)

Hair loss is another symptom that women experience during menopause (due to a change in hormones) (7).

 

However, because collagen makes up 70% of your dermis (the middle layer of skin that contains hair follicles), it contributes to the elasticity and strength of your dermis and may prevent hair thinning and hair loss.

 

Whatsmore, collagen may even slow graying. As you age, the cells that produce melanin—the pigment that gives your hair its color—begin to die (8). But, thanks to collagen’s potent antioxidant properties, it has the potential to fight oxidative stress and in return, slow graying (9, 10, 11).

3. Collagen Reduces Cellulite

Due to the low estrogen levels that come with menopause, cellulite begins to appear (12).

 

Menopause means low estrogen levels. And low estrogen levels mean two things:

 

  1. The development of cellulite
  2. The decreased production of Type 1 and Type 3 Collagen (which also contributes to cellulite)

 

In one 2015 double-blind study, 105 women with moderate cellulite (aged 24 to 50) were given a daily dose of either 2.5 grams of collagen peptides or a placebo.

 

In just 6 months, the group taking collagen peptides saw a significant decrease in cellulite and skin waviness on the thighs (13).

 

Thus, daily supplementation of grass-fed collagen powder (that has Type 1 and Type 3 Collagen) will effectively reduce the appearance of cellulite.

4. Collagen Strengthens Nails

Guess what major protein makes up nails?

 

Type 1 Collagen (14).

 

Thus, when collagen levels are low, nails become brittle.

 

In one study, 25 participants took 2.5 grams of collagen peptides daily for 6 months. Nail growth and cracked/chipped nails were evaluated.

 

The results: Participants saw a 12% increase in nail growth and a 42% decrease in the frequency of broken nails (15).

5. Collagen Alleviates Joint Pain

Joint pain—along with many of the above menopausal symptoms—can all be boiled down to one thing: Low estrogen.

 

Estrogen is what protects joints and reduces inflammation, but when estrogen levels drop, inflammation can increase (16, 17). Heightening the risk of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. The result?

 

Painful joints.

 

Taking at least 20 grams of collagen powder daily may alleviate joint pain caused by low estrogen.

6. Collagen Balances Hormones

Extreme hormone changes occur during menopause...

 

Estrogen plummets. Progesterone plummets. Which leaves you feeling flushed, moody, and downright not yourself.

 

Luckily, amino acids can help balance out your hormones. And collagen has 19 of the 20 amino acids your body needs (the one essential amino acid it’s missing is tryptophan) (18).

 

Three of the most abundant amino acids in collagen are glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline (glycine and proline make up 57% of the amino acids in collagen) (19). One study showed that glycine may serve as an advanced signal that activates thyroid function immediately before the intake of protein (20).

 

In addition to this, collagen contains the nonessential amino acid tyrosine. Tyrosine is converted in the body into dopamine (the “feel good” chemical) and norepinephrine (the hormone that leads to euphoria but can also lead to panic attacks, elevated blood pressure, and hyperactivity) (21). These are two essential hormones needed for mood regulation.

7. Lean Muscle Mass

As women (and men) get older, staying lean can become quite the challenge (thanks again to low estrogen).

 

Extra weight can lead to cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and breast cancer. However, one animal study discovered that supplementing with collagen protein reduced weight gain (22).

8. Enhanced Gut Health

Aging gut microbiome can come with a whole host of digestive problems: metabolic diseases, chronic inflammation, neurodegeneration, and more (23).

 

When stressors arise (and collagen levels are low), the balance of oral and gut microbiota gets disturbed. When homeostasis is altered, oral infections arise, the risk of autoimmune diseases heightens, and weight gain can occur (24).

 

This is where a high-quality probiotic comes into play. Collagen heals and seals the gut while probiotics support healthy gut flora and regular digestion.

 

Another link between gut microbiota and menopause is that the gut seems to influence bone homeostasis. Which means that a healthy gut equals healthy bones. This is crucial since approximately one in two women over age 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis (extreme bone loss).

9. Improvement of Health and Composition of Arteries

With age comes an increased risk of coronary artery disease—a buildup of plaque in the arteries, limiting blood flow to the heart (25).

 

Healthy arteries are supple—due in large part to Type 3 Collagen. However, with age, your body’s natural collagen production declines rapidly—leaving you with only 50% of the collagen that you were born with.

 

One 2017 study examined the effect of collagen peptides in individuals with atherosclerosis—a disease of the arteries in which fats, cholesterol, and other substances build up in and on the artery wall. Participants consumed a total of 16 grams of collagen peptides a day for 6 months.

 

Results indicated a significant reduction in LDL-C to HDL-C (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol to high-density lipoprotein cholesterol), a significant reduction in toxic advanced glycation end-products (TAGE), and a significant reduction in the cardio-ankle vascular index (CADI) (26).

 

Considering that atherosclerosis makes up nearly 50% of all deaths in western society, it’s crucial to consume a high-quality collagen supplement daily (27).

10. Collagen Reverses Bone Loss

Bone loss can come from a few different factors: Little to no resistance training, low collagen levels, estrogen deficiency, increasing age, and more (28).

 

Because menopause comes with a nearly 50% decrease in estrogen, let’s hone in on its role in bone health…

Graph Showing the Decline of Estrogen with Age and Menopause

Estrogen plays a critical role in skeletal growth and bone homeostasis.

 

The average bone turnover rate for healthy young adults is 2 to 3% per year (29). However, during menopause, there’s an accelerated phase of bone loss that is followed by slower, sustained bone loss. This rapid decline occurs over a 4 to 8 year period (30).

 

Now here’s where collagen comes into play…

 

Collagen makes up a whopping 90% of a bone (31). One double-blind study analyzed 131 postmenopausal women (with a mean age of 63) with low bone mineral density. The women received 5 grams of collagen peptides or a placebo daily for 12 months.

 

The results: The bone mineral density of the spine and femoral neck increased significantly, and Type 1 Collagen increased significantly.

 

This data shows that a daily intake of collagen peptides favorably increased bone density and bone formation while reducing bone deterioration (32).

When Should I Start Taking Collagen?

It’s never too late to start taking a collagen supplement.

 

Collagen levels begin to decline as early as your 20s. So if you’re 25 and reading this article, it’s recommended that you start taking a collagen supplement.

 

The good news is that if you’re 60, you can still reverse the damage done by low collagen. You’ll just need a little “boost”.

 

We recommend two phases in your collagen supplementation: Collagen Loading and Collagen Maintenance.

Graph Showing the Difference between Collagen Loading and Collagen Maintenance

Collagen Loading consists of 20 to 40 grams of collagen daily for 4 to 8 weeks. From there, you can phase into Collagen Maintenance. This consists of 10 to 20 grams of collagen daily, indefinitely.

The Bottom Line

Healthy, Beautiful Older Woman Sitting on Yoga Mat

As your round into the years of menopause, take some time to reflect on your health. What’s beginning to deteriorate? How do you feel? How would you like to feel?

 

Menopause comes with a whole host of frustrations—rapidly aging skin, joint pain, bone loss. Luckily, they can be reduced with a whole food diet, plenty of water, and a high-quality collagen supplement (be sure it has Type 1 and Type 3 Collagen).

 

Tell us in the comment section below—How has collagen helped you? Has it helped with any of the menopause symptoms mentioned above?

Certified Health Coach and Head of Content at NativePath (aka I’m the gal responsible for ensuring that every blog we publish helps you live life a little more #OnThePath).

Sources

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  19. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28929384/ 
  20. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-2095.1996.tb00065.x 
  21. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3065393/ 
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Medical Disclaimer
This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Chad Walding nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement, or lifestyle program.

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