Collagen: The Protein That Reverses Aging and Builds Muscle

weight training for seniors

August 28, 2017

By Alex Eriksson (Expert contributor for Building Muscle 101)

We all inevitably get old and die. That may sound like such a downer but there’s a silver lining to that – it means that all the joys we can experience in this lifetime can be heightened. Besides, there are many ways to look and feel young, and to delay the onset of aging. In the past few years, short of finding the Fountain of Youth, significant developments in the areas of cell therapy using both animal and human cells have reportedly led to the delaying of the aging process.

Unfortunately, cell therapy and other cutting-edge technologies are both too expensive for the regular person, and with most being in the initial stages of development, it can be really risky.

What is Collagen?

What if it was possible to stay young longer and maintain our health and energy by using affordable supplements to work on vital systems and parts of our body? One of these vital systems is the connective matter network that links and binds much of our joints and tissues. And one of the most vital of these systems’ elements is collagen.

Collagen is a naturally occurring protein in our body’s connective tissues. It resides in the bone matrix, in the lining of our blood vessels, joins, ligaments and skin. In other words, it exists in almost every tissue of our body. It keeps our tissues together, and also links them with other organs and tissues.

Collagen also gives the skin its youthful appearance. An abundance of the protein also lessens the occurrence of wrinkles and lines in the skin, while keeping it elastic and supple. These are qualities that protect and strengthen the skin against the external environment, such as exposure to the sun and other elements.

These qualities also help the skin remain resistant against easy tearing, cuts, abrasions, and pressure. Collagen also contributes towards regenerating and replacing old and dead skin cells, and helps wounds heal better and faster.

Benefits of Collagen

Recent studies have indicated that collagen has a much more important role in improving bodily functions than what has been originally known. Its importance has expanded beyond simply cosmetic effects to life-extending properties. These wide-ranging benefits of collagen include:

1. Improved joint support, health and function, and helps alleviate joint pain – Collagen is smooth, gel-like matter that covers and holds the bones together, and allows us to move without pain, as the bones and joints glide smoothly. When we take in more collagen as a supplement, it is like applying grease on a squeaky door hinge. This will also allow you to reduce pain caused by arthritis.

2. Reduction of Osteoporosis – Collagen fibers wrap around other fibers and become the interior framework where bone minerals accumulate. After we reach 35, the rate bone resorption or normal breakdown will exceed the rate of bone formation. This will inevitably lead to bone mass loss. Collagen supplementation will help strengthen the bone framework, reducing the loss of bone mass.

3. Reduction of the appearance of wrinkles and improved overall skin health – Collagen production decreases as we age, and this is most evident in our skin. It becomes looser, has less elasticity, and there is an increase in the incidence of the dreaded wrinkles. Increasing levels of collagen will increase smoothness of your skin, and enable it to look firmer. Ample amounts of collagen allow the skin cells to be constantly repairing and renewing.

The lack of collagen can lead to nails splitting and peeling, because collagen protein is the nail’s building block. It is also the building block of our hair; therefore collagen supplementation may even reverse symptoms of hair loss, and make your hair look more healthy. Here's a study about what lack of collagen does to the hair.

4. Improved blood circulation (by improving elasticity of the blood vessel linings). Supplementation to increase collagen is vital because together with elastin, the elastic protein in connective tissue, are the two vital components of the blood vessel. These include the major “conduit” arteries like the femoral and carotid and femoral artery, as well as the aorta, the body’s main artery. Collagen offers an alternative way of improving blood flow compared to regular vasodilators.

5. Improved recovery/rehabilitation from injuries – Collagen is used by the body to heal wounds. This is why supplementing with collagen will allow your body to have what it needs to repair tissues. It also boosts the body’s recovery process.

6. Reduction of cellulites – Collagen decreases with age, and there is a corresponding loss of elasticity because of this decrease in collagen. This decrease in skin elasticity also comes with thinner skin. As the skin thins out, cellulite becomes more visible. Collagen supplementation will help reduce the visible dimpling on the skin which is the hallmark of cellulite visibility. Studies have shown that healthy collagen levels improve the strength and elasticity of these blood vessels.

7. Improved ability to build muscle and weight loss – Studies show that hydroxyprolylglycine, a dipeptide which appears in the blood after we have consumed collagen, can probably produce some anabolic effects. It can help stimulate muscle fiber formation, making them stronger and bigger.

8. Improved sleep patterns – Glycine is an amino acid that is used to form collagen. It also makes your energy usage more efficient. In addition, studies have shown that the ingestion of glycine helps improve sleep quality (based on subjective results of sleep studies) in human beings.

9. Improved digestion – Many illnesses can be linked to irritation and inflammation coming from an unhealthy gut. This usually arises because of “leaky gut” syndrome. This is when harmful toxins “leak” into the digestive tract. Collagen can help in protein breakdown and helps soothe the gut’s lining. Collagen also helps with the formation of the protective lining of the gastrointestinal tract, which will help prevent a “leaky gut” affliction.

Keep in mind

Taking excess collagen supplements can expose you to a few, but very rare side effects such as:

  • Hypercalcemia, or when calcium in the body exceeds normal levels
  • Fatigue
  • Hypersensitivity to food/allergens
  • Constipation

Collagen supplements are not effective on an empty stomach, and should usually be taken a few hours after a meal. Depending on the type of supplementation, if you properly follow the directions for taking collagen, however, you should have no problems.

About Alex:

"Alex Eriksson is the founder of Anabolic Health, a men's health blog dedicated to providing honest and research backed advice for optimal male hormonal health. Anabolic Health aspires to become a trusted resource where men can come and learn how to fix their hormonal problems naturally, without pharmaceuticals. Check out his guide on The Ultimate Guide to Manly Cooking or follow him on Twitter or Facebook."