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Collagen seems to be all the rage these days, and with good reason. While collagen can be helpful for everyone, if you’re male you might be wondering what particular perks taking collagen could offer you. Well, there’s good news here: collagen benefits for men are numerous.
Many men are interested in taking collagen as they age. Evidence suggests that supplementing with collagen may help improve skin elasticity and reduce wrinkles (Kim, 2018). Collagen also shows promise when it comes to building muscle, recovering from exercise-related injuries, and keeping your heart healthy (Zdzieblik, 2015; Khatri, 2021; Tomosugi, 2017).
Read on for more information about collagen, its benefits for men, and what the different options are when it comes to supplementation.
What is collagen?
Collagen is a substance naturally produced in our bodies. It is abundant in our connective tissues and provides structural support to our skin, muscles, bones, cartilage, tendons, and ligaments. There are 28 different types of collagen in the body, but type I is the most common, making up about 90% of the body’s collagen (Wu, 2022).
Collagen is one of the most abundant proteins found in the body, comprising about a third of the body’s total protein (Shoulders, 2009).
What causes collagen deficiency?
We naturally produce less collagen as we age; this is the culprit behind sagging skin, wrinkles, and thinning skin (Al-Atif, 2022). But aging isn’t the only factor that can decrease the plumpness and youthful appearance of skin; both smoking and excessive sun exposure have similar effects (Yazdanparast, 2019; Rittié, 2015). Other factors that can accelerate the depletion of collagen in the body include alcoholism, nutrient deficiencies, and environmental toxins (Bolke, 2019).
Everyone experiences the signs of reduced collagen at some point (we can’t avoid aging forever!), but some of the signs that your body may be producing less collagen include (Wang, 2021; Bolke, 2019):
- Loose skin
- Drier skin
- Thinning hair
- More brittle nails
- More wrinkles
Vitamin C is an important component in the synthesis of collagen; people who are deficient in vitamin C may have trouble producing adequate collagen (Wu, 2022).
Benefits of collagen for men
Collagen has potential benefits for men of all ages—from young men who are looking to increase muscle mass to older men hoping to decrease wrinkles, improve heart health, and recover from injuries (Oertzen-Hagemann, 2019; Kim, 2018; Tomosugi, 2017; Khatri, 2021).
Let’s take a closer look at the health benefits of collagen for men, including what the most current studies say.
There’s ample evidence for the benefits of collagen for the skin. For example, a 2019 study found that both short- and long-term supplementation with collagen helped in wound healing and reducing the signs of aging in the skin. Importantly, no serious side effects were reported (Choi, 2019). And a 2018 study found that collage supplementation worked to increase skin hydration and elasticity, and to decrease wrinkles (Kim, 2018).
Collagen is a protein that plays an important role in the health of our muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Men who do strength training may find collagen supplementation helpful, but it may also benefit your muscles as you age.In 2019, a study was published showing that men who took a collagen supplement after resistance training were more likely to have increased body mass and muscle strength (Oertzen-Hagemann, 2019). Similar results have been seen in men as they age. Another study found greater increases in muscle strength and mass in elderly men who combined collagen supplementation with resistance training, than with resistance training alone (Zdzieblik, 2015).
Exercise and injury recovery
Collagen can help repair tissues and muscles and has been shown to help people recover from exercise-related injuries. This can be particularly helpful if you are a man who works out frequently, or is getting older, as it can be more difficult to recover from injuries as you age. One study found that collagen supplementation can help improve joint function and reduce joint pain (Khatri, 2021).
Heart disease is something all men need to take seriously, as it’s the number one cause of death in men in the US (CDC, 2022). Taking care of your heart involves many factors, including healthy eating, reducing alcohol, quitting smoking, and increasing exercise. Collagen supplementation may also play a role in protecting the heart.
One study found that collagen may reduce atherosclerosis, which is the build-up of unhealthy fats and cholesterol in the walls of your blood vessels (Tomosugi, 2017). High triglycerides and cholesterol can clog your arteries, reduce blood flow, and contribute to heart attacks and strokes.
Types of collagen
Evidence suggests that collagen supplementation may help with issues like aging skin, muscle strength, cardiovascular health, and more. And there’s probably little downside, as people who use collagen supplements usually don’t have adverse reactions or harmful side effects (Choi, 2019).
There are several different types of collagen supplements, including collagen powders, pills, and creams. Some foods are also possible sources of collagen proteins, like bone broth and gelatin (Paul, 2019). Collagen creams are also popular, although topical treatments may be less effective than oral treatments since collagen production starts inside the body (Reilly, 2021).
Here’s what you should know about the different types of collagen supplements.
Collagen supplements usually come in powder or pill form. Collagen powders can be mixed into a drink—lots of people mix it into their morning coffee. Data suggests that hydrolyzed collagen (collagen peptides) may be the preferred type of supplement, as this form is more readily broken down and absorbed by the body (Reilly, 2021).
Collagen supplements that contain additions such as vitamin C, zinc, biotin, and vitamin E may further enhance the benefits of collagen and help the body manufacture it (Bolke, 2019).
Bear in mind that collagen supplements are currently not regulated by the FDA, so you should read the ingredient label carefully and consult your healthcare provider before taking a collagen supplement.
There are several different food sources for collagen. It’s unclear if eating these foods will boost collagen in your body, but there is usually no harm in adding them to your diet (Paul, 2019). If you are adding red meat to your diet, though, you should do this in moderation, as high consumption of red meat may not be recommended. It’s wise to also boost your vitamin C intake if you are adding collagen-rich foods to your diet, as vitamin C helps the body absorb collagen (NIH, 2021).
Popular dietary sources of collagen include:
- Bone broth (made from beef, chicken, or fish bones)
- Cuts of meat containing connective tissue, like pork chops and brisket
Vitamin C foods to boost these effects include:
- Citrus fruits
- Bell peppers
- Leafy greens
- Broccoli and brussels sprouts
Collagen has many benefits for men, and there are generally no significant downsides to adding it to your supplementation routine or diet to see if it helps. However, before you make any dietary changes or start a new supplement, you should always consult with your healthcare provider.
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- Bolke, L., Schlippe, G., Gerß, J., et al. (2019). A collagen supplement improves skin hydration, elasticity, roughness, and density: results of a randomized, placebo-controlled, blind study. Nutrients, 11(10), 2494. doi:10.3390/nu11102494. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6835901/
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Dr. Chimene Richa is a board-certified Ophthalmologist and Senior Medical Writer/Reviewer at Ro.