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lusher hair, stronger nails and the flexible, dewy skin of a 20 year old. For years, these have been the main collagen promises, which means that the supplements have mostly (though not entirely) appealed to women. But prompted in part by people who say that collagen supplements can also help with traditionally “manly attributes,” like bigger muscles, the supplements have recently appeared in many men’s shopping carts as well. In fact, thanks to the growing interest in everybody genres, collagen supplements are on their way to becoming a $16.7 billion business by 2028 (This includes medical uses for collagen, in wound dressings and medical implants, but one of the fastest growing sectors is supplements.)
The increase in interest from men may also be due to the ease of taking collagen, which comes in a variety of protein powderscoffee creamers and premixed drinks, which don’t have the unpleasant taste of other supplements, says Jeff Gladd, MD, integrative medicine physician and medical director of full script. “I think collagen is growing in popularity not only because of its purported benefits for skin and joint health, but also because it’s easy to mix into many different foods and beverages without altering taste or texture,” he says. Although Dr. Gladd notes that there are no benefits that are specific to men, he does say that there are some that are particularly appealing to those looking to create the body seen by many as the male ideal: “Being able to build muscle and decrease fat Bodybuilding is the holy grail of health goals,” he says.
“While we often think of anti-aging and the desire to reduce wrinkles as a women’s issue, men also want to age better,” she says. Kellyann Petrucci, North Dakota, naturopathic physician and author of The Bone Broth Breakthrough. “Beyond aging, collagen is being studied for men as beneficial for maintaining muscle mass, reducing fat, as well as joint health and heart health.”
But the appeal can really come down to this: “The internet has equated collagen with a youth elixir,” he says. Amy K. Fisher, RDN, a registered dietitian with the Good Housekeeping Institute. And who doesn’t want to shave a few years off her age, no matter what gender she identifies with?
What does collagen actually do?
Collagen is basically the glue that holds our body together: it is the most abundant protein in the body, maintaining the normal strength and structure of connective tissue such as bone, skin, cartilage, and blood vessels. “As you age, the body produces less collagen, think sagging skin and wrinkles“, says Fischer. “At the same time, the collagen breaks down more quickly. This breakdown can be accelerated by environmental factors such as solar exposition, of smoking, lack of sleep and a diet high in sugar and processed foods,” she says.
So replacing the collagen we’ve lost with supplements, which are made from bones, skin, and from animals like cows, pigs, and fish, seems to make sense. But what does science say? It’s promising, but It is important to remember as we review the data that much of the research promoted by supplement companies has been funded by companies that have, ahem, skin in the game.
What are collagen supplements made of?
There are two different types of collagen, Fischer explains: “Our bodies consist primarily of type I, which is found in the skin, and type II, which is found in cartilage. In supplement forms, type I and type III collagen they are supposedly intended to support skin, hair and nails, while type II has been associated with joint health.”
It would be nice to think that we just take in some collagen, and it travels through our body to our bones, skin, or joints, replacing what was once there, but the body can’t actually absorb collagen in its full form, Dr Petrucci. Explain. “For best absorption, the preferred form of collagen should be hydrolyzed. This means that collagen is converted into shorter chains of amino acids, which are also known as peptides.”
The peptides are then formulated into pills or powders that can be mixed into water, coffee, smoothies or oatmeal, Fischer says. “The nice thing about them is that you can’t taste them,” she says. However, keep in mind that they are not cheap.
What benefits can men get from collagen?
- It can revive the skin: Until now, most of the research on the effect of collagen on the skin has been done in studies focused exclusively on women. A korean study found that after 12 weeks, women taking 1000 mg of an oral collagen peptide supplement had better results in skin hydration, elasticity, and the appearance of wrinkles than those using a placebo. a 2021 meta-analysis which analyzed 19 studies found favorable results of hydrolyzed collagen supplements in terms of skin hydration, elasticity, and wrinkles. On a related note, collagen supplementation is used in hospital settings to improve wound healing.
- It can help build muscle and reduce fat. In the holy grail of body-conscious men, the results of two small German studies are promising. In a, Active young men who did resistance training combined with 15 g of collagen peptide supplements had a greater increase in fat-free mass after 12 weeks than those who took placebos. In a different study of older men with sarcopenia (age-related loss of muscle mass and strength, which can lead to increased risk of falls and fractures), researchers found that when they completed a 12-week resistance training program combined with collagen peptides , men who took collagen supplements increased lean mass and muscle strength more than those who exercised and took a placebo. Of course, it doesn’t work like Popeye munched on spinach and suddenly his bicep gave out. boing! — if you want to build muscle, you should increase weight-bearing exercises.
- It can help muscles recover. Another potential benefit of taking collagen to complement your iron-pumping sessions at the gym: You might feel a little less soreness after your workout. A small british studio of active men suggests that oral supplements may help reduce muscle soreness after exercise. Interestingly, the study found that the supplementation had no effect on inflammation or bone collagen rebuilding, so it’s unclear where the benefit came from.
- It can help with joint disease. Some small studios have shown that oral collagen supplements can reduce pain in patients with hip or knee joint pain due to osteoarthritis, allowing them to be more active.
- But can it cover up that bald spot? While improving the thickness and growth of hair on the head is one of collagen’s biggest boasts, there simply isn’t enough research to prove it works, according to a revision in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. In fact, the few published studies on hair growth are sponsored by, you guessed it, supplement companies.
Are there any risks of taking collagen supplements?
While collagen itself does not appear to pose any risk (a large meta-study concluded that “collagen supplementation is generally safe and no adverse events are reported”), all experts agree that it is crucial to purchase your supplements from companies that perform external testing, as supplements are not regulated by the FDA and They may contain heavy metals such as arsenic and lead. And as always, talk to your doctor before adding any new supplements to your diet. “Look for brands that have been third-party tested by companies like nsf, informed choiceY consumer Labs,recommends Fischer. “These companies work to ensure the safety and purity of the supplements.”
How much collagen should men take?
The recommended dose for men is 15 to 20 grams of collagen peptides, says Dr. Petrucci. For most collagen peptide powders, that works out to around two tablespoons.
Can you get collagen from food?
You don’t need to take a supplement to increase your collagen intake: “Eating a healthy diet full of vitamins, minerals, and protein, getting enough sleep and hydration, and avoiding the sun can help prevent the breakdown of collagen and support collagen production.” , says Fischer. If you eat meat, look for cuts that are full of connective tissue, such as roast beef, brisket and churrasco, suggests Dr. Petrucci. And then, of course, there’s the craze for drinking bone broth. “This can be made at home by simmering animal bones in water for several hours,” says Dr. Gladd.
For people who just aren’t comfortable swallowing the various discarded parts of other creatures, Dr. Petrucci recommends eating egg whites, which contain an amino acid that helps the body naturally produce collagen; garlic, which is high in sulfur, which can help prevent the breakdown of collagen; and vitamin C-rich citrus fruits. “Vitamin C plays a role in the production of pro-collagen, the precursor to collagen in the body,” he explains.
So should men take collagen?
While the science behind supplemental collagen is still new and fairly inconclusive, there is little risk in trying it if you buy from a trusted brand. But don’t look at that pill or powder as the magic fountain of youth: “Like most supplements, they should be considered complementary and an addition to basic health lifestyle efforts and not a replacement. Getting the most out of collagen supplementation requires a focus on whole food nutrition and regular exercise,” says Dr. Gladd.
Marisa Cohen is a contributing editor for Hearst Lifestyle Group’s Health Newsroom, and has covered health, nutrition, parenting and culture for dozens of magazines and websites over the past two decades.
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