Collagen’s Impact on Muscle and Hair Health

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Hydrolyzed collagen (collagen peptides) supplementation for skin enhancements has gained popularity over the years due to its ability to combat age-related decreases in skin collagen production [1]. However, collagen peptides also reinforce muscle tissue by targeting age-related declines in muscle structure and function or muscle tissue damage [2, 3]. In addition, collagen peptides can help counteract undesirable changes in hair growth that may occur with age or health issues that lead to thin, brittle hair follicles or hair loss [4]. 

Let’s take a closer look at how hydrolyzed collagen supplementation affords these benefits.

Collagen’s Impact on Muscle Structure

Exercise and nutritional approaches are the standard recommendation for muscle issues, including injuries or age-related loss of muscle mass and function [5]. Resistance training that involves gradually increasing the intensity and weight load has proven beneficial at promoting healthy changes in muscle mass and strength [6]. This particular type of exercise activates muscle protein production, which in turn enhances muscle growth [7].

According to research, dietary protein supplementation from different sources is another efficient strategy for enhancing the strength and mass of muscle tissue, especially in combination with resistance exercise (8, 9). These benefits have been demonstrated in both younger and older individuals [10-12]. Due to these findings, collagen peptides have also gained attention. 

Several studies provide evidence which shows that collagen dipeptides (2-amino acid chains) and tripeptides (3-amino acid chains) such as hydroxyprolyl-glycine (Hyp-Gly) appear to generate signals that cause muscle cells to develop and grow (21). This process helps boost muscle mass following collagen peptide consumption. Considerable amounts of Hyp-Gly have been detected in the bloodstream of adults who consume hydrolyzed collagen—supporting the notion that collagen peptides enhance muscle tissue structure through their influence on protein-building activity [13]. In addition to impacting muscle mass, the glycine amino acid in collagen peptides appears to help normalize inflammation levels and minimize muscle-wasting health issues (e.g., sepsis, sarcopenia) [14, 15].

Clinical research further supports these findings by demonstrating that elderly sarcopenic men who took hydrolyzed collagen regularly experienced marked enhancements in resistance training ability [16]. Post-activity muscle soreness also lessened in response to collagen peptide supplementation and the production of collagen in the body (e.g., muscle tissue) heightened [16]. Similar gains in muscle mass were observed for premenopausal women who took hydrolyzed collagen and engaged in a weekly resistance training program [17].

Overall, studies repeatedly show that hydrolyzed collagen supplementation is beneficial for anyone and can help enhance muscle mass and strength in active individuals as well as those suffering from muscle problems.

Interestingly, the mechanism by which collagen peptides impact muscle mass by reinforcing muscle protein production appears to be the same in terms of the influence collagen supplementation has on hair health.

Collagen’s Influence on Hair

Hair-related issues such as the thinning, shedding, or loss of hair may develop for different reasons that include age, cosmetic product use, nutritional deficiencies, childbirth, stress, or hormonal imbalance [4, 18]. Fortunately, taking supplements that contain hydrolyzed collagen helps promote healthier, fuller, and longer hair by rejuvenating hair follicles [4]. The scalp and the base of hair follicles contain collagen. Heightened collagen production also plays a role in the development of new hair follicles.

Taking hydrolyzed collagen appears to reinforce healthy collagen production in the scalp following supplementation. The mechanism seems to involve the revitalization of connective tissue cells that produce collagen in the skin (e.g., scalp)—similar to how hydrolyzed collagen influences muscle cell growth and gains in muscle mass [19]. Heightened levels of collagen in the scalp in response to supplementation also help boost the production of key hair proteins such as keratin [20].

Clinical research supports these findings by showing that taking hydrolyzed collagen-based dietary supplements daily leads to marked changes in hair growth and structure for people suffering from thinning hair [4]. Specific changes include higher numbers of terminal hairs (thick, long, pigmented hair strands) when the supplement is taken for several months. Additional benefits of consuming the collagen-based product daily include better scalp coverage, hair volume, and thickness of the hair follicles. The longer the collagen-based supplement is taken, the more pronounced the benefits, with enhanced shine, moisture retention in the scalp, and skin (scalp) smoothness typically becoming more evident with extended supplementation [4]. Therefore, hydrolyzed collagen-based products that are used consistently can help promote longer, thicker, and healthier hair in people who are experiencing hair thinning.

In most cases, hydrolyzed collagen for muscle and hair enhancement contains a mixture of collagen type I and type III—the most abundant forms found in muscle, skin (e.g., scalp), and at the base of hair follicles [1, 4]. 

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