How long does it take for collagen to work?

As more and more people talk about collagen every day, you may be convinced to take collagen and see for yourself its effects. But how long does it take for collagen’s results show up? How do you know if it’s working for you? Well, that needs a bit of a waiting game. Some collagen supplements may take a while to experience their full benefits, but for sure, you will experience minor ones probably right from the outset. 

Collagen is basically beneficial to certain parts of your body’s health, most especially the nails, hair, joints, bones and, of course, the skin. Everyone wants to look younger, right? And yes, collagen can help with that. 

Signs that you need collagen

Knowing your collagen levels helps you determine whether your collagen intake is working or not. As you understand the reasons for your current lack of collagen, these can also become your indications that the collagen brand you are taking is effective. 

Wrinkles and loss of skin elasticity

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If you notice some wrinkles on your skin, this can be a sign that you lack collagen! You need to continue taking supplements to reverse this. 

In fact, the loss of skin elasticity is one of the primary signs that you have insufficient collagen in your body. This may happen when you age or if you have a collagen deficiency. Even 20 years olds can suffer from collagen deficiency which can result in wrinkles or sagging skin. 

Seventy to eighty percent of the skin is composed of collagen; hence, if you lack it, you can clearly see that in your skin’s appearance. Moreover, when your body struggles to produce more collagen, your remaining collagen will prioritise nourishing your in-need vital organs and not your skin. Meaning you can identify if you lack collagen just by looking at your skin. 

Joint aches or joint pain

Another indication that you lack collagen is experiencing joint aches and pain. As you age, your natural capacity to produce collagen is also reduced. However, if you experience unusual joint aches and pain at a young age, you may be experiencing a collagen deficiency. Hence, this may affect your joint health

Collagen helps in adding elasticity to your connective tissues and cartilage. Cartilage’s main function is to provide cushion and flexibility to numerous joints in your body, and without enough levels of collagen giving elasticity, your cartilage weakens and becomes susceptible to damage. Your joints’ cartilage requires collagen to rebuild and repair themselves, so if you are not producing enough collagen, your cartilage begins to deteriorate. 

Muscle aches

Aside from joint issues, you may also experience muscle aches. If you find yourself having difficulty recovering from your usual workout routines, then that is a sign you may be lacking collagen in your body. 

Collagen is imperative to your connective tissues, and any changes in your collagen levels can also affect their functions of them. Muscles can also be affected as it gains flexibility and repairs themselves through collagen. Lacking collagen in the body may give your muscle a hard time responding to its damage immediately. 

Gastrointestinal issues

Many collagen supplement companies sell their products for skin and bone benefits; however, they may be missing out on collagen’s gut health benefits. Collagen can help improve the integrity of your intestinal lining and repair a leaky gut. 

People suffering from leaky gut syndrome may find it hard to have a stable and fully-functional gut, and they are susceptible to any inflammations in their bodies. This gut condition happens when the consumed food particles, toxins and bacteria leak into one’s bloodstream. Not having enough collagen may cause you other gastrointestinal issues as well. 

Extended recovery time from injury

Recovering from any type of injury or wound may be that difficult for you if you lack collagen in your body. This is another sign that you need to take more collagen support or eat collagen-rich foods to increase your level. 

Collagen aids in repairing injuries and wounds in our body, and not having enough may slow you down from returning to your normal state. Whenever a part of your body is injured or wounded, your body tries to repair itself by using proteins to heal cells, synthesise restoring enzymes and produce more cells to get busy rebuilding the damaged structures [1].

How long will collagen take effect? 

Now that you know when to take and which areas of you need collagen, let’s understand its effectiveness period. Generally, collagen takes about 8 to 12 weeks to see its major results on skin health, joint pain relief and bone strengthening. 

More and more people are using creams or supplements to resupply collagen to their bodies, but to get the most benefit it’s important to understand how collagen works. 

For skin enhancement: 6 to 12 weeks (one and a half months to three months)

Studies show that it takes about 6 to 12 weeks of regular supplementation to see noticeable improvements in your skin, including its elasticity, hydration and density. One factor that contributes to why collagen is taking its time to provide results is its low dosage amount through your supplements intake [2].

For joint support and joint pain: 12 weeks to 24 weeks (three months to six months)

In order the get visible effects of collagen on your joints, you need to take regular supplements for at least 12 weeks to 24 weeks. Studies show that bothersome symptoms of joint pain or joint aches may be improved by collagen around 3 months to 6 months. In addition, a shorter timeframe may give localised joint support, like better joint mobility, and the longer you take collagen, the more you enhance your overall joint health. 

You still have to consider your collagen dosage to see results. In a research where participants took 2 grams of collagen daily, they found out that there was a significant reduction in joint pain in only two months.

For muscle mass and strength: 12 weeks (three months with combined resistance training)

Generally, you have to wait for about 12 weeks to experience the result of collagen in your muscles. However, it still varies based on your specific muscle improvement goal. In a research study, it was found that you may feel its results by Day 222 if you have a typical level of muscle soreness and you combine collagen with a strenuous exercise. Moreover, enhanced muscle mass from collagen protein, such as peptides and amino acids, usually takes around 3 months with resistance training.

For reduced bone soreness and bone-density support: up to 12 months (one year)

The waiting game is a long one on this one. If you aim to have reduced bone soreness, you may see its results just within a few days. However, it takes 12 months for bone-density support. As the physiological timeline of bone turnover naturally takes longer, study shows that you won’t see its effects any time soon. 

For improved hair and stronger nails: 4 weeks and 24 weeks (one month and six months)

According to some experts, it takes around four weeks for collagen to work on your hair. However, there are not enough research studies to back this up. 

On the other hand, nail strength may be enhanced for about 24 weeks. Studies showed that collagen works on nails by enhancing their strength and improving their brittleness, and this usually takes up to 6 months. 

What can affect how long it works?

Considering that not all collagen supplements or collagen sources have been produced the same way, there are several factors you need to consider as to why you are still not getting its key benefits. 

  1. Amount of collagen or its dosage – taking the recommended dosage of collagen needs to be taken into account. The suggested dosage of collagen supplements is around 10 to 20 grams. While this is helpful, you need to know that certain types of collagen require lower doses, and they are still effective.
  2. The type of collagen the various types of collagen have distinct functions throughout your body. Hence, you need to choose collagen products based on what you want to improve. For joint support, Type II Collagen works best in this area and Type I and Type II Collagen are best suited to gut, skin and overall full-body benefits.

    Additionally, collagen by itself is considered a huge molecule for your body to be absorbed. That is why experts suggest looking for hydrolysed collagen peptides, as it is easy to digest.
  3. Diet and lifestyle choices – collagen can’t work by itself alone, you need to pair it with a healthy diet and wise lifestyle choices. Collagen is basically not a whole protein because it does not have all nine essential amino acids. Hence, collagen is only complementary to a diet. 

What causes collagen loss?

Aside from taking collagen support through supplements or foods, you also need to determine what causes you to lose collagen. The primary causes can be:

  • Aging
  • Consistent sun exposure without skin protection [3]
  • Hormonal changes, especially from pregnancy, menopause and certain health conditions
  • Oxidative stress, which may happen through metabolic processes and lifestyle choices, including smoking and diet
  • Low levels of ascorbic acid or vitamin C [4]

Side effects of collagen supplements

Considering its popularity in the market, there are only a few reported side effects of collagen supplements. These downsides usually come from how the supplement is formulated, as some are produced with common food allergens, such as eggs, fish and shellfish. As a result, people with allergies to these foods tend to have allergic reactions; hence, you should still consider the supplements’ compositions and ingredients used. 

Some other side effects are nausea, bloating, heartburn, mild diarrhoea, heaviness in the abdomen and certain rashes in the body. 

Bottom line:

Collagen works differently for each beneficial body area, so determining which ones you want to improve is necessary. While knowing when you will notice collagen’s positive effects on you, it is still essential to be consistent with your healthy diet and lifestyle. 

Research: 

[1] https://protgold.com/blogs/news/collagen-deficiency-symptoms-5-clues-you-arent-getting-enough-in-your-diet 
[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6835901/ 
[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4292080/ 
[4] https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/23089-collagen 

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