Collagen peptides are animal-derived amino acid chains that form the building blocks of your body’s connective tissue. This includes joint cartilage, tendons, and skin, and given this broad range of tissues that rely on collagen for their structural integrity, collagen peptides have an equally broad range of applications.
Collagen peptide supplements are popular options for combating joint pain, boosting muscle recovery, strengthening hair and nails, and improving skin quality.
Want to know how to best utilize collagen peptide for these applications? Check out the biggest benefits of this powerful supplement listed below.
1. Collagen forms the structure for your skin, hair, nails, joint cartilage, and tendons
As such, it plays a critical role in everything from maintaining youthful skin and joint integrity and improving musculoskeletal health.
2. Collagen peptides can improve your skin health
One study on older women showed that collagen peptide supplementation improves both skin elasticity and skin hydration (1), a finding which makes sense in light of the high collagen content in skin (and the loss of skin collagen that accompanies aging).
3. Collagen peptides can help heal skin aging
Collagen is a common ingredient in wrinkle creams, thanks to research indicating that collagen peptides can reverse some of the changes in skin seen with aging (2).
4. Collagen peptides may be a useful treatment for rheumatoid arthritis
Research in people with swollen joints from rheumatoid arthritis suggests collagen peptides can improve joint pain (3).
5. Osteoarthritis can also be helped by collagen peptides
This was the conclusion of a clinical trial studying older adults with osteoarthritis, and another review study (4,5). These findings make sense given the key role of collagen in the structural integrity of joint cartilage
5. Collagen peptides may increase your body’s rate of connective tissue synthesis
This was the conclusion of a 2014 study that showed a dose of collagen led to increased levels of hydroxyproline in the blood, a building block for joint cartilage (6). Higher levels of hydroxyproline in turn indicate higher rates of cartilage turnover.
6. Collagen peptides can help athletes with joint pain
A clinical trial on collegiate athletes showed that six months of collagen peptide supplementation improved joint pain compared to a placebo (7). This finding suggests that collagen’s benefits could extend beyond the kind of joint pain that merely occurs with age–it could help soothe acute and overuse-related joint injuries in athletes too.
Collagen side effects
Collagen peptides have no known side effects for most people. So far, there have been no significant side effects reported in the clinical trials of collagen peptides.
A few patients suffered headaches and constipation in one trial, but the overall rate of side effects was not different from the glucosamine supplement that was used as a control in this study (8).
If you are allergic to eggs or shellfish, use a different source of collagen. There is some chance that collagen peptide products made from eggshells or fish scales could contain trace amounts of some of the proteins that cause allergic reactions in people who have severe fish or egg allergies.
If you have one of these allergies, you may want to use a single-source collagen peptide supplement that comes only from bovine (cow) products.
Aim for 2.5-5 grams per day for skin health. To improve your skin health, and that of other connective tissue on your body like hair and nails, most studies use doses of 2.5 to 5 grams per day of collagen hydrolysate.
Use a higher dose of up to 12 grams per day for joint health. In contrast, doses are often higher when collagen peptides are used for treating joint pain, and especially arthritis.
Doses more along the lines of 12 grams per day appear more appropriate, based on what clinical trials have used thus far.
Some studies have people split the dosage into two equal amounts, taken in the morning and the evening, though it’s not clear if this approach is superior.
Collagen benefits FAQ
Q: What are collagen peptides?
A: A peptide is a short chain of amino acids that are chained together. Collagen is a fibrous molecule that’s made up of collagen peptides linked together—these strands make up your tendons, ligaments, skin, and cartilage.
Q: Are collagen peptides vegan?
A: Unfortunately, collagen peptides are not vegan. Collagen is found primarily in animals: plants don’t have tendons, joints, or ligaments, which is where most collagen is sourced from.
Instead, check out specially-formulated vegan collagen supplements for a vegan-friendly source of collagen.
Q: Are collagen peptides healthy?
A: Yes, beyond their use as a supplement for your skin and your joints, collagen peptides are a great source of protein.
Since collagen is pretty much pure amino acids, collagen peptides are one of the most concentrated sources of supplemental protein that you can find. It’s great if you are on the keto diet, or any low carb diet because a serving of collagen peptide protein powder has zero grams of carbohydrates.
Q: What is the best source of collagen?
A: There are a variety of potential sources of collagen, ranging from cow bones and cow hide to eggshells and scales from various kinds of fish.
All of these are excellent sources of collagen, and no research indicates that one is superior to the others.
Q: What do collagen peptides do?
A: Collagen peptides can be used by your body to synthesize new collagen, which is the building block of pretty much all of the connective tissue in your body, from your skin to your joint cartilage and tendons.
The broad uses of collagen inside your body explain why collagen peptides appear to have such a wide range of potential applications, and results from research provide evidence that taking a collagen peptide supplement does in fact increase your body’s synthesis of new collagen in your body.
Related: Our best collagen picks
Collagen peptides provide the amino acids your body needs to build up the structural integrity of your skin, nails, hair, tendons, muscles, joints, and other connective tissue.
They’re safe and well-tolerated, and scientific research suggests collagen supplements could help improve joint pain and increase your rate of synthesizing new connective tissue.
Most research on cosmetic applications of collagen uses doses of 2.5-5 grams per day, while studies on joint pain use more: often 12 grams per day.