How Much Collagen You Really Need To Be Taking In Order To Experience Results
Many health seekers know that collagen supplements have been said to help keep bones and joints strong while promoting youthful skin and healthy hair as we age.
But despite the abundance of clinical evidence supporting collagen’s many benefits, a fair amount of skepticism around collagen supplementation still remains—and it’s no surprise why.
Read the review columns for any top collagen brand on Amazon and you’ll see gobs of unsatisfied collagen customers disappointedly reporting that they did not see the results they were promised.
So why is there such a contrast between what research says about collagen versus what real collagen consumers are saying?
Dr. Chad Walding, DPT, Senior Wellness Expert & NativePath co-founder says it’s due to one little-known collagen mistake.
“Perhaps the biggest reason why people fail to see results with collagen is because they aren’t using the proper dose required in order for those results to be experienced. Depending on the patients' age and the specific benefits they’re seeking, the amount of collagen needed for full results will vary.”
In the following article, Dr. Chad Walding encourages collagen skeptics to examine what the cited research says about how to reap maximum results with collagen supplementation before drawing definitive conclusions on its effectiveness.
Collagen Is Not A “One-Size-Fits-All” Supplement
With most standard multivitamin supplements, they’re typically formulated to be taken as a straightforward once-daily dose.
Collagen supplementation, on the other hand, is a bit more complex than that.
“With over 16 different known collagen fiber types, collagen users must be aware that each ‘type’ plays a different role within the body. Therefore, expecting a collagen supplement to work miracles without researching the formula first is a quick way to not have expectations met.”
In its basic form, collagen protein is made up of an ensemble of amino acids. Since digestive processes vary from person to person, there’s no guaranteeing how effectively the protein will be broken down, absorbed and utilized after it’s ingested.
Furthermore, when we look at the body's ability to benefit from collagen supplementation, there are several other often-overlooked facts about collagen that must be addressed before deciding which fiber types best suit one’s needs.
Fact #1.) Collagen Needs Will Vary Depending On Age
Aside from water, collagen is the most plentiful substance in our bodies and is considered the primary building block for joints, muscles, bones, skin, hair, and nails.
Over time, the ideal levels of collagen our bodies naturally produce begin to wane each year starting in our 20’s.
Within our joints and connective tissues, this collagen decline causes the strength of our ligaments and muscles to weaken - often leading to stiffness, soreness, and chronic pain.
Collagen fibers break down or no longer regenerate, and lead to a “deflation” effect on the surface of the skin and also causes hair follicles to become brittle and fall out.
Therefore it can be concluded that the older one is, the larger their collagen deficit will be.
This means that in order to fulfill their collagen needs, older individuals must first restore the collagen deficit just to reach baseline levels. Once baseline levels of collagen are restored, individuals can experience the benefits of added collagen supplementation.
Simply put, this research conveys that older individuals will need to supplement with higher doses of collagen than individuals of younger age in order to experience full results.
The best way to restore age-related collagen deficit is through collagen loading, a strategy Dr. Chad Walding uses with his senior patients to effectively replenish age-related collagen loss.
Fact #2.) Collagen Results Are Benefit-Dependent
Whether you’re considering using collagen to promote hair growth, prevent balding, improve skin health or restore joint strength - the dose of collagen your body requires will vary.
Moreover, depending on age, diet and other environmental factors, you may have to supplement with collagen on a consistent long-term basis (month-long durations to even years) to see results.
As with all supplements, collagen is no “magic cure” - it takes time, patience and consistent daily use in order for best results to be fully realized.
Here’s a look at what the research says about how much collagen is needed based on the desired benefit:
Enhance Skin Complexion & Reduce Wrinkles
Collagen plays a role in strengthening skin, plus may benefit elasticity and hydration. With age, the body produces less collagen, leading to dry skin and the formation of wrinkles.
However, several studies have shown that collagen supplements may help slow the aging of your skin by reducing wrinkles and dryness.
One study found that women who consumed a collagen supplement daily for 12 weeks experienced increased skin hydration and a significant reduction in wrinkle depth compared to a control group.*
SUMMARY: While modest skin benefits can be seen in 8 weeks, for major improvements in skin health including reduction of deep wrinkles, research shows that at least 12 weeks of consistent daily collagen supplementation (5 grams/day) is required.
Improve Hair Health & Slow Follicle Thinning
Collagen makes up 70% of your dermis, the middle layer of your skin that contains the root of each individual hair. Therefore, providing the body with collagen may help maintain a healthy dermis and prevent hair thinning.
In an eight-week study, 69 women aged 35–55 found that taking a daily collagen supplement significantly improved dermis elasticity and hydration compared to a placebo, translating to enhanced overall skin & hair health.*
SUMMARY: When it comes to improving hair health, research shows that at least 8 weeks of consistent daily collagen supplementation (5 grams/day) is required for results.
Relieve Joint Pain
Collagen helps maintain the integrity of your connective tissues such as our joints, muscles, and cartilage, which is the rubber-like tissue that protects your joints.
As the body’s collagen levels decrease with age, the risk of developing degenerative joint disorders increases.
Some studies have shown that taking a collagen supplement may help improve symptoms of joint disorders and reduce joint pain overall.
In one study, 73 participants who consumed 10 grams of collagen daily for 24 weeks experienced a significant decrease in joint pain while walking and at rest compared to a group that did not take it.*
SUMMARY: For improved joint health and relief from joint-related pain, research shows that at least 24 weeks of daily collagen supplementation (10 grams/day) is required.
Prevent Bone Loss
Our bones are made mostly of collagen, which gives them structure and helps keep them strong.
As collagen levels deteriorate with age, bone mass does too, leading to crippling mobility concerns including severely low bone density and higher risks of bone fractures.
Studies have shown that taking collagen supplements may have certain effects in the body that help inhibit the bone breakdown.
In one study that looked at bone health in 103 postmenopausal women, 66 women were given 5 grams of collagen daily for 12 months. The women who took the collagen had an increase of up to 7% in their bone mineral density (BMD), compared to women who did not consume collagen.*
According to this study, collagen supplementation was associated with a favorable shift in bone markers, indicating increased bone formation and reduced bone degradation.
SUMMARY: For stronger, healthier bones, research shows that at least 12 months of daily collagen supplementation (5 grams/day) is required.
Between 1–10% of muscle tissue is composed of collagen. This means that collagen protein is vital for keeping our muscles strong and functioning properly as we age.
Studies suggest that collagen supplements help boost muscle mass in people with sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass that happens with age.*
In one study, 27 participants took 15 grams of collagen for 12 weeks. Compared to participants who did not take collagen, they gained significantly more muscle mass and strength.* This research shows great promise for helping older individuals maintain their independence as they age.
SUMMARY: Research shows that 12 weeks of daily collagen supplementation (15 grams/day) yielded improvements in muscle mass and strength.
Promote Heart & Artery Health
Collagen provides structure to your arteries, the blood vessels that carry blood from your heart to the rest of your body. Without enough collagen, arteries may become weak and fragile.
In one study, 31 healthy adults took 16 grams of collagen daily for six months. By the end, they had experienced a significant reduction in measures of artery stiffness compared to before they started taking the supplement.*
SUMMARY: According to research, 6 months of daily collagen supplementation (16 grams/day) was shown to elicit positive results for promoting heart health.
“What the research clearly tells us is that collagen DOES work - But we must have the patience and fortitude to follow through with consistent daily use to reap its benefits.”
Based on clinical evidence, experiencing the many benefits of collagen may require anywhere from 8 weeks to 12 months of daily use to be fully realized.
Taking a scoop here and a scoop there won’t cut it when it comes to seeing results with collagen; consistent, daily use is necessary.
While it’s very possible to experience positive results as early as the first few weeks of consistent supplementation, and many of Dr. Chad Walding’s patients do, individuals aged 60+ may require longer durations of daily collagen use to experience dramatic results.
Generally, a daily collagen dose of 5-10 grams is recommended but for older individuals, their collagen levels are already at a deficit - putting them severely below normal healthy ranges.
This means doubling up the dose may be the best approach for older individuals to reap collagen’s maximum benefits; a protocol that’s better known as collagen loading.
“With collagen loading, my most successful senior patients take between 10-20 grams of collagen a day…”
Doubling the dose works to effectively rebuild lost collagen and allows the body to easily overcome the age-related deficit.
While some individuals may only need to “load” (10-20g daily) for a matter of months, many find the most success by using the loading dose long-term. This helps ensure that collagen levels stay elevated for good.
How To Get More Collagen In Your Diet
Now that you know a bit more about how much collagen your body really needs in order to experience results, you’ll also want to know the doctor-recommended approach to getting more collagen in your diet.
Though it is possible to obtain extra collagen through diet (consuming animal products such as gelatinous meats, the cartilage on bones such as chicken drumsticks, and skin from poultry), most find it unappealing or difficult to eat enough to support their body’s requirements.
Plus, the absorption is not as efficient as that of hydrolyzed collagen powder supplements. The collagen in supplements has already been broken down, or hydrolyzed, which is why it is thought to be absorbed more efficiently than the collagen in foods.
This is why supplementing with a high-quality collagen protein powder has become the preferred method for increasing collagen levels within the body. Most collagen powder supplements include a pre-dosed measuring scoop that makes adding more collagen to one’s diet seamless.
But not all collagen supplements are created equal...
“While skepticism surrounding collagen may remain for some time, there’s no denying its miraculous benefits - so long as you’re using the right formula to suit your needs.”
As more and more collagen supplements burst onto the stage, it’s important to understand the different types of collagen, as well as the different sources and health benefits associated with the most important types.