I get asked this question a lot and if you are menopausal or post-menopausal then the research supporting collagen supplementation is very promising!
The amount of collagen in your body reduces with age and consequently, your risk of degenerative joint conditions such as osteoarthritis (OA) increases. As in skin health, collagen plays an important role in bone health, too. As we age, the integrity of the network of collagen in the bones reduces, which leads to a decrease in bone strength - what we don't want to happen!
A 2018 study in 102 postmenopausal women with decreased bone mineral density (BMD) confirmed that taking 5g of collagen peptides a day for 12 months significantly increased bone mineral density of the spine and femoral neck confirming reduced bone degradation and increased bone formation (1).
Additionally, in a 2021 follow-up study in 31 of these participants, the authors found that supplementing with 5g of collagen a day for 4 years was associated with a further increase in bone mineral density, which increased by 5.79–8.16% in the spine and by 1.23–4.21% in the femur during the study (2).
These promising results indicate that supplementing with collagen long-term may help increase bone mineral density in postmenopausal females since these individuals are at a increased risk of developing osteoporosis and osteopenia.
OSTEOPOROSIS is a condition that weakens bones making them fragile and more likely to break.
OSTEOPENIA is when your bones are weaker than they should normally be but not so weakened that they break easily as in osteoporosis.
A 2018 meta-analysis found that taking collagen supplements decreased the research participants’ symptoms related to osteoarthritis (OA) including the common symptom of stiffness (3).
Furthermore, supplementing with collagen can also help to increase your protein intake and research published in 2016 has shown that increasing protein intake can help decrease age-related muscle loss as well as improving muscle function, which may help to improve quality of life (4).
Whilst these findings are promising, it is essential I highlight that the studies noted these positive benefits and effects of supplementing with collagen predominantly in older women with decreased bone mineral density. Thus, supplementing with collagen may not have the same benefits in other individuals, such as those who don’t have low bone mineral density or who are younger or male.
More research is definitely needed to investigate the effects of supplementing with collagen in these different population groups. But if you are a menopausal woman or postmenopausal then the research supporting the use of collagen supplements is very positive indeed!
(1) König D, Oesser S, Scharla S, Zdzieblik D, Gollhofer A. Specific Collagen Peptides Improve Bone Mineral Density and Bone Markers in Postmenopausal Women-A Randomized Controlled Study. Nutrients. 2018 Jan 16;10(1):97.
(2) Zdzieblik D, Oesser S, König D. Specific Bioactive Collagen Peptides in Osteopenia and Osteoporosis: Long-Term Observation in Postmenopausal Women. J Bone Metab. 2021 Aug;28(3):207-213.
(3) García-Coronado JM, Martínez-Olvera L, Elizondo-Omaña RE, Acosta-Olivo CA, Vilchez-Cavazos F, Simental-Mendía LE, Simental-Mendía M. Effect of collagen supplementation on osteoarthritis symptoms: a meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials. Int Orthop. 2019 Mar;43(3):531-538.
(4) Baum JI, Kim IY, Wolfe RR. Protein Consumption and the Elderly: What Is the Optimal Level of Intake? Nutrients. 2016 Jun 8;8(6):359.