Contrary to popular misconception, collagen isn’t a women-only supplement; men can benefit just as much too. None of us are strangers to aging, which slows down collagen synthesis in our bodies as we grow older. Add in lifestyle factors such as smoking, an unhealthy diet, and physical inactivity (all of which can also downplay collagen synthesis) and it’s no wonder your joints are creakier than ever, and your hairline is receding more than usual.
The solution is simple: Supplement with collagen to boost your body’s natural reserves. From injury prevention to better heart health, let’s find out the eight collagen benefits for men.
What Is Collagen?
Did you know that collagen makes up 25-30% of all the proteins in your body? This is why it’s a vital component of most major organs, such as the skin and blood vessels. So, you can imagine how collagen deficiency can take a toll on your overall health and wellness.
In terms of the collagen’s molecular structure, it features a triple helix consisting of three key amino acids:
Each helical turn generally follows a Gly-X-Y sequence (Gly: glycine, X: proline, Y: hydroxyproline).
3 Collagen Types in the Human Body
Collagen is a big protein family with at least 16 known types. Of these, three main types account for 80-90% of all the collagen in your body:
- Type I: Present in the skin, bones, teeth, and connective tissues (including tendons and cartilage)
- Type II: Present in the joint cartilage
- Type III: Present in the muscle tissues, organs, and blood vessels
8 Benefits of Taking Collagen for Men
Now that you understand what the collagen molecule is and how it’s categorized into different types, let’s take a closer look at its myriad health benefits for men.
1. Help Prevent Injuries and Repair Tissues
Regular exercise has many advantages, such as increased muscle strength and faster weight loss, to name a few. Unfortunately, being active also comes at a price — you’re at a greater risk of workout-related injuries, many of which involve muscle aches and ligament sprains.
With the help of collagen supplements, you don’t have to give up on your weekend marathon training. In one small study of eight male participants, vitamin C-enriched gelatin increased collagen synthesis in the ligaments post-exercise. This helps strengthen your body’s connective tissues to prevent injuries and aid muscle repair after a grueling workout.
2. Build Muscle Mass and Strength
Whey protein powders aren’t the only thing you should be supplementing with if you want muscle gains. The reason being, collagen is rich in glycine and arginine, two amino acids needed for creatine synthesis (the organic compound responsible for energy release during exercise). Incidentally, glycine and arginine are also present in collagen.
Research shows that 12 weeks of collagen supplementation and resistance training significantly enhanced muscle mass and strength in recreationally active men in their 20s compared to exercise alone. But these benefits aren’t reserved for the younger population; they apply to older adults too. A similar study design published in the British Journal of Nutrition also observed significant increases in lean body mass and muscle strength in elderly men experiencing muscle loss.
The best part is, hydrolyzed collagen peptides are “cell-ready” and digest easily. In other words, a collagen-based smoothie is less likely to trigger abdominal discomforts frequently associated with milk-based protein powders.
3. Improve Joint Health
Optimal joint health is essential to a better quality of life, simply because pain-free movement allows you to go about your daily life smoothly. Unfortunately, men are just as vulnerable to joint inflammation, pain, and degeneration as women are.
To ward off age-related joint discomfort for as long as possible, science recommends collagen supplements. According to a 2008 study, participants who took 10 grams of collagen hydrolysate had much less joint pain when performing a range of movements, such as walking, standing, and running. More importantly, the results showed that collagen supplementation may lower the risk of joint deterioration in high-risk individuals and help support overall joint health.
Other research also confirms collagen supplements are effective against degenerative joint disorders. A prime example is osteoarthritis, in which the cartilage cushioning your bone joints slowly erodes and leads to joint pain. A 2006 medical review explained that oral collagen hydrolysate is efficiently absorbed in the intestines and transported to the cartilage to intensify its collagen content.
4. Boost Heart Health
Atherosclerosis is the primary cause of death in the United States. It’s a progressive disease in which fatty deposits accumulate along the walls of the arteries. As these arteries clog up, less blood flow through them, potentially causing other health problems like chest pains and coronary heart disease. Most alarmingly, more men die from this chronic disease than women, and at a younger age.
Start protecting your heart health by supplementing with collagen as early as possible. Scientific evidence indicates the Gly-X-Y sequence in collagen molecules can help prevent and treat atherosclerosis. When healthy volunteers took 16 grams of collagen tripeptide (rich in Gly-X-Y peptides) for six months, the ratio of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) to high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) dropped significantly. (Note: The LDL-C/HDL-C ratio is a reliable predictor of cardiovascular risk).
5. Assist With Weight Loss
Sitting at your desk and indulging in a beer after dinner most nights puts on the pounds faster than you would like. Research shows that while the global likelihood of being overweight is roughly the same for both genders, there’s a higher prevalence of obesity among men in the United States.
If you’re looking to lose weight safely and effectively, you may want to consider collagen supplements. A 2019 study featured in the Journal of Marine Drugs researched the fat-reducing abilities of collagen peptides derived from skate skin (a type of marine fish). Healthy, overweight participants had significantly reduced body fat percentage after taking 2000 milligrams of the collagen peptides for 12 weeks. As a bonus, there were no negative side effects.
6. May Stimulate Healthy Hair Growth
Male pattern hair loss can strike at any age. One community-based study involving men aged 18 to 49 years old highlighted three worrying insights:
- The prevalence of moderate to extensive hair loss is as high as 42%, which is almost half of the surveyed population
- The likelihood of hair loss increases with age, ranging from 16% for men aged 18-29 years to 53% for men aged 40-49 years
- Roughly 12% of the participants experience a receding hairline
Adding collagen to your diet may help lower the odds of hair loss. Hair is made up of keratin, a structural protein that contains glycine and proline, which are the two amino acids present in collagen. Supplementing with collagen may thus provide your body with the essential compounds to produce keratin needed for hair growth.
In addition, collagen is a formidable antioxidant to neutralize free radicals that create oxidative stress inciting hair damage. In a 2018 study published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, women with self-perceived thinning hair took a nutraceutical supplement containing collagen for six months. The results showed “improvement in hair growth, volume, thickness, and hair growth rate,” suggesting the same benefits can be applied to men, too.
7. Help Combat Skin Aging
Modern men are taking more interest in skincare than they did a century ago, and for good reason, too. Once you turn 20, your skin produces 1% less collagen every year. One way to maintain a youthful-looking complexion for as long as possible is through collagen supplements rich in Types I and III (the same kinds of collagen present in your skin).
According to a 2019 systematic review covering 11 studies and 805 participants, it highlighted that collagen supplementation can be part of an anti-aging skincare regimen since it:
- Improves skin elasticity, hydration, and collagen density
- Assists with wound healing
- Diminishes the appearance of wrinkles
8. Promote Better Gut Health
Bloating, an upset stomach, and a leaky gut are just some of the common gastrointestinal issues many men face. More worryingly, these digestive problems often incite systemic inflammation in your body, leading to seemingly unrelated symptoms, such as brain fog and fatigue.
Collagen helps address the root cause of most gut issues by healing the intestinal barrier, which may then alleviate non-digestive-related symptoms. Research explains collagen derived from Alaska pollock skin corrects intestinal barrier dysfunction that triggers chronic digestive illnesses like inflammatory bowel disease.
Collagen Peptides vs. Gelatin: Which Is Better for You?
When choosing a collagen supplement for yourself, take note of its different forms to decide which one best suits your needs.
Collagen supplements are typically available as collagen peptides (fully hydrolyzed) and gelatin (partially hydrolyzed). Since collagen peptides are smaller molecules than gelatin, they digest more easily and enter the bloodstream more readily. As such, they are less likely to cause abdominal discomfort like bloating.
But that’s not to say you should rule out gelatin powder entirely. The reason being, gelatin acts as a thickening agent to add texture to your dishes, making them more palatable. On top of that, gelatin is also easy on your digestive system and has the same protein properties as bone broth.
If you still need help making up your mind, check out our detailed comparison between collagen and gelatin powder.
3 Different Sources of Collagen Supplements
Collagen supplements are mainly extracted from these three sources:
- Cows (i.e., bovine or beef collagen)
- Marine animals (i.e., marine collagen)
- Pigs (i.e., porcine collagen)
Generally, all three collagen sources provide a good mix of Types I, II, and III to cater to your health needs. At Zen Principle, we provide these three types of collagen supplements:
Our Beef Collagen supplements are mostly Type I mixed with some Type III. Meanwhile, our Marine Collagen supplement is rich in Types I and III collagen. Choosing the collagen source depends on your unique health goals. If you’d like to learn more about how each collagen source may be beneficial for your health, hop over to our in-depth guides on beef collagen and marine collagen.
How Much Collagen Should You Take To See Results?
As with all dietary supplements, it’s best to start small and follow the recommended dosage set out by the manufacturer. For instance, we suggest one teaspoon a day (maybe try adding it to your coffee?) for your Beef Collagen Peptides Powder to ensure your body is compatible with it before gradually increasing the dosage. Keep in mind that the general rule for collagen supplements is 2-15 grams daily. Also, remember to consult a healthcare professional before adding the supplement to your diet if you suffer from any chronic ailments.
Collagen supplements do take a while to show results. You will probably start noticing a difference after 6-8 weeks of consistent usage with our collagen powders. However, this timeline may vary depending on your health goals. For example, your sleep quality may improve faster than your hair growth rate.
Collagen for Men and a Better Quality of Life
There are numerous collagen benefits for men to achieve better health and wellness, and by extension, a better quality of life. Whether you want to supercharge your athletic performance or tackle the extra pounds on your frame, collagen can help.
To get the most out of your collagen supplement, pick one that best resonates with your health goals and specific needs. Most importantly, be patient as good things are worth waiting for.