Among some of the top beauty buzzwords is a relatively new player on the scene - Collagen. You've probably heard it advertised in a skincare commercial or on an Instagram ad at some point. This essential protein has become a daily supplement for many due to its positive effects, including improved joint mobility, smoother skin, and stronger nails. But what can collagen do to promote healthy hair? The answer is - a lot!
What is Collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body. 1/3 of our total protein is collagen, the main component of skin, hair, nails, bones, cartilage, tendons, and ligaments. Collagen is a structural protein that strengthens the tissues within the body and supports skin elasticity, hydration, heart health, and more. It acts like a trampoline, providing a supportive base for our skin to give it a vibrant, firm appearance. While collagen is often famed for its skin-boosting benefits, evidence supports that this potent protein can also have incredible benefits for our hair.
What are the different collagen types?
There are over 16 collagen types, but the most plentiful are types I, II, III, and IV.
- Type I: Nearly 90% of the human body's collagen is within the type 1 classification. It makes up the fibers that form bone, skin, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, and more. It's a critical structural aspect of several tissues and bodily functions.
- Type II: This collagen type forms articular cartilage, making up around 50% of cartilage protein. Articular cartilage's primary role is to cushion joints.
- Type III: This collagen type supports the structure of muscles, organs, and arteries.
- Type IV: Various physiological and pathological functions rely on type IV cartilage.
How does collagen benefit the hair?
Collagen supplementation benefits the body in two ways: It's bioactive and supplies it with key amino acids. A collagen peptide functions as a messenger to cells, triggering the synthesis and reorganization of new collagen fibers, thus supporting hair, skin, bones, and joints. Low levels of proteins (Hypoproteinemia) were associated with thin, dry, brittle hair and hair loss. Taking collagen supplements containing the correct type of peptides provides our hair follicles with the building blocks required to build new, healthier hair.
Each hair follicle comprises three layers: the cuticle, the cortex, and the medulla. The outermost layer, the cuticle, consists of a shingle roof-like structure made of keratin that forms a protective barrier around the inner layers. The body uses several amino acids to create keratin, many of which are found in collagen. Increasing your collagen intake gives your body the essential building blocks to generate new hair follicles.
Collagen has been shown to enhance the connective tissue in your scalp, which is essential for supporting the hair follicles and the scalp's blood circulation. After 20, we lose approximately 1% of collagen production per year. Taking collagen peptides helps the hair follicles produce stronger, better-looking hair, and the cells in our skin create healthier, tighter skin.
Free radicals are unstable molecules that roam the body, causing damage if left untreated. Free radicals are typically the result of metabolic processes but can also be produced by smoking, pollution, prolonged sun exposure, and poor diet. We are pretty good at dealing with these pesky molecules when we are younger, but this process begins to slow as we age.
As we grow older, our natural collagen production begins to decline, and the physical signs of aging start to show - wrinkles, fine lines, joint pain, sagging skin, and brittle hair. In addition to accelerating the aging process, free radicals contribute to many health problems, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, cataracts, and damage to cells and hair follicles. Increasing collagen levels within the body can act as an antioxidant to fight these free radicals, keeping the body, hair, and skin healthy.
What are the benefits of collagen on hair?
Hair growth is just one of the many benefits of taking collagen. There are various beauty-boosting bonuses you can reap from this helpful supplement. They include:
- Reduced hair loss
- Thicker hair follicles
- Strengthened hair
- Reduced damage and breakage
- Stimulation of new hair growth
- Less gray hair
- Increased hair volume and shine
Marine Collagen for Women's Hair Loss - the science
The effects of a marine collagen supplement were tested on a group of American women 21 - 75, with hair thinning. The women were randomly divided into two groups. One group received a blend of marine collagen with vitamin C twice daily; the other group received a placebo. Significantly more treated subjects perceived improvements in overall hair volume, scalp coverage, and hair thickness after 90 days. Additional improvements after 180 days included hair shine, skin moisture retention, and skin smoothness. No adverse events were reported.
Another study tested the effect of a combination of marine collagen with vitamins and minerals on men and women with hair loss. The group included 55 men and five women with genetic and age-related hair loss (androgenetic alopecia). Hair counting in close-up photographs demonstrated a 32.4% increase in hair growth in the treatment group and an insignificant change in the placebo group after six months. By the end of 12 months, an average hair growth of 63.9% was observed. The group initially receiving the placebo experienced a 60.8% increase in hair growth. This suggests continued improvement with continued treatment exposure. No severe side effects were reported by the end of the study.
Can collagen peptides get to the skin and the scalp?
When hydrolysis occurs, collagen breaks down into dipeptides, tripeptides, and free amino acids. Studies on radiolabeled collagen hydrolysates have shown that upon ingestion, the amino acids are absorbed in the intestines, distributed throughout various tissues, including the skin and scalp, and remain present for a duration of up to 14 days. These collagen fragments act as the foundational components for collagen and bind to receptors on fibroblasts, thereby stimulating collagen production. Additionally, they possess antioxidant, photoprotective, and immune-modulating properties. Scientific studies have demonstrated that nutraceuticals containing collagen hydrolysates can enhance hair growth in patients with telogen effluvium and androgenetic alopecia conditions.
Does topical collagen work?
The short answer is no. Applying topical collagen to the scalp does not help with hair regrowth. The collagen molecules are giant (300,000 daltons) and cannot pass through the upper layer (epidermis) and get to the hair follicles in the dermis. Topical serums, shampoos, and conditioners that contain collagen can attract water and help with hair hydration but will not help with hair regrowth.
What are the other benefits of marine collagen?
In addition to their significant benefits for your hair, Marine Collagen supplements may have other health benefits.
What are the effects of collagen peptides on the skin?
Several studies have shown that collagen peptides may help slow skin aging by reducing wrinkles and dryness. A 2021 meta-analysis published in the International Journal of Dermatology found that collagen supplements can improve skin hydration and elasticity and reduce wrinkles. The analysis included 19 studies and 1,125 participants between 20 and 70. The wrinkle reduction effects associated with taking collagen supplements are explained by their ability to stimulate your body to produce collagen independently. Taking collagen supplements was also shown to increase other proteins that help structure your skin, including elastin and fibrillin.
What are the effects of collagen peptides on the nails?
Research shows that taking collagen may increase the strength of your nails, prevent brittleness, and stimulate your nails to grow longer.
What are the effects of collagen peptides on the joints and bones?
As we age, the amount of collagen in our body decreases, and our risk of developing joint disorders such as osteoarthritis increases. A few studies have shown that collagen supplements may help improve symptoms of osteoarthritis and reduce joint pain overall.
What are the effects of collagen peptides on gut health?
Some physicians and nutritionists recommend using collagen supplements to help reduce intestinal permeability (Leaky gut syndrome).
What are the effects of collagen peptides on your weight?
Taking collagen supplements may promote weight loss and a faster metabolism.
How can I add more collagen to my diet and improve my hair health?
Marine collagen supplements contain higher collagen amounts than eating a regular fish fillet. The collagen is found in fish skin, bones, heads, scales, fins, entrails, and fish cartilage. You're typically not consuming these parts unless you eat small, whole fish (such as sardines, anchovies, or mackerel).
What is the best collagen for growing new hair?
Collagen type I and, to a lesser extent, type III are essential for hair and skin health. Marine Collagen, sourced from wild-caught fish, has more collagen type I than bovine collagen and is better for hair regrowth. Aim to take between 5 - 10 grams of collagen per day. Collagen supplements in capsules usually contain significantly lower amounts of collagen and are less effective.
Why choose marine collagen peptides over bovine collagen?
In addition to its higher content of type I collagen per gram, Marine Collagen also has less environmental impact. Marine Collagen sourced from wild-caught fish is also free of the antibiotics and toxic compounds used in raising farm animals. It is allowed for people on pescatarian and other diets.
Is there vegan collagen? Does it work?
An ongoing effort is to genetically modify bacteria or yeast to produce human collagen. Unfortunately, there is no clinical evidence that this collagen type can help with hair, skin, and nails.
What are the different kinds of marine collagen?
The best marine collagen is derived from wild-caught deep seawater fish (cod). This codfish collagen has a high degree of purity and can retain water. Avoid lower-quality collagen-containing freshwater fish (pangasius and tilapia) and the ecologically disruptive shark fin collagen.
Adding vitamin C and hyaluronic acid to your collagen peptide powder
It was found that adding vitamin C to collagen powder can further help build healthier new collagen in the hair, skin, and nails. In addition to its essential role in creating new collagen, vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that helps support a healthier scalp and more active hair follicles. Hyaluronic acid is one of the best moisturizing agents. It can hold water up to 1000 times its weight, keeping the hair scalp and hair strands moisturized, elastic, and shiny.
How do you choose a collagen supplement?
There are multiple collagen supplements, and choosing the right supplement to match your health goals is essential. The main differences in collagen supplements are the source of collagen- marine or bovine, powder or capsules, flavored or unflavored, and the ingredients added to collagen.
What is your goal in taking the collagen peptides?
If you would like to improve the health and quality of your hair, skin, and nails, you will need to look for collagen type I. This collagen type is more prevalent in marine collagen than in bovine collagen. If your main goal is improving your gut health, look for bovine collagen.
What is the best source of collagen peptides?
Marine collagen sourced from wild-caught deep-sea fish is regarded as healthier and cleaner than bovine collagen sourced for animal hides. Cows have a much higher risk of contamination with hormones and antibiotics than wild-caught fish. Marine collagen is also better absorbed in the gut than bovine collagen and, when ethically sourced, better for the environment.
Collagen powder vs. collagen capsules - what is better?
Due to their size, Collagen capsules contain a tiny amount of collagen. To take an adequate amount of collagen, look for collagen peptide powder. The powder contains much more collagen than capsules and is easier to consume in hot and cold drinks.
Flavored or unflavored collagen - what is better?
Look for unfavored collagen powder. These products do not contain sugar and can easily dissolve in every liquid.
What are the best ingredients added to the collagen peptides?
If you are looking for stronger and shinier in your hair, skin, and nails and healthier joints and bones, look for collagen powder that is enhanced with vitamin C and hyaluronic acid. Vitamin C is essential for producing new collagen, and hyaluronic acid is vital to keep your hair, skin, and nails moisturized and elastic.
How do you use collagen peptide powder for better hair, skin, and nails?
- Hot and cold Beverages: Stir collagen powder into hot or cold coffee or tea, ensuring it dissolves entirely for a smooth texture and an easy nutritional upgrade.
- Yogurt and Smoothies: Mix collagen powder with flavored yogurt or blend into smoothies with ingredients like Greek yogurt, milk, banana, and chocolate syrup for a nutritious boost. Adding vitamin C-rich fruits to enhance collagen synthesis.
- Baked Goods and Muffins: Incorporate collagen powder into baked goods like protein bars, brownies, or muffin batter, such as chocolatey flaxseed brownies or raspberry oatmeal muffins, to increase their health benefits without affecting taste.
- Eggs and Soups: Whisk unflavored collagen powder into scrambled eggs or cream-based soups like potato, leek, and white bean soup, increasing protein content without altering flavor.
- Creamy Pasta Dishes: Add collagen powder to creamy pasta dishes, including mac and cheese or pasta alfredo, for a seamless blend that enhances nutritional value.
- Oatmeal and Applesauce: Fortify oatmeal or applesauce with collagen powder. The hearty texture of oatmeal and the moisture in applesauce help smoothly integrate the powder.
- The structure of people's hair
- Structure and functions of keratin proteins in simple, stratified, keratinized, and cornified epithelia
- Decreased Collagen Production in Chronologically Aged Skin
- Collagen For Your Skin: Healthy or Hype?
- Collagen. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Nutrition.
- A Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Study Evaluating the Efficacy of an Oral Supplement in Women with Self-perceived Thinning Hair.
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