Collagen supplements are dietary supplements, usually in capsule form, taken to reduce the symptoms of arthritis and bone pain, to promote healing, or to improve the appearance of the skin. Collagen is the most abundant protein in mammals, including humans, and makes up the bulk of the connective tissue, including the skin, bone, teeth, tendons, cartilage, and organs. It supports the softer tissues of the body and aids in healing. Healthy people generally do not need to take collagen supplements, but many people choose to take them to manage bone and joint pain, or to promote a youthful appearance.
There are many different types of supplements containing collagen, and the kind one should use depends on his or her reasons for taking it. For arthritis or orthopedic injuries, those with glucosamine are often the best choice. Like collagen, glucosamine aids in joint healing, and can improve motility and reduce pain. Supplements containing collagen II, rather than collagen I or III, are most often indicated for patients with arthritis. Collagen II is the main component of hyaline cartilage, which lines the ends of bones to form the surface of joints.
A person taking collagen supplements to improve the look of the skin, nails, and hair should opt for formulas without glucosamine. There is no need to take glucosamine if not concerned about joint health, and supplements with glucosamine are more expensive than those without. Non-glucosamine supplements often contain collagen I and collagen III, which are most abundant in the skin.
Collagen supplements come in different dosages. When used as a beauty supplement, collagen should be limited to about five or six grams daily, while more may be required to address joint or bone pain. Arthritis patients may take up to 10 grams of collagen daily. Collagen is water soluble, so excess amounts are quickly flushed from the body. Therefore, taking too much collagen is not dangerous, though it can be wasteful.
When taking collagen supplements, it is important to have adequate Vitamin C and lysine in the diet. Some contain Vitamin C, since it is responsible for building collagen in the body and required for collagen to work. Alpha Lipoic Acid is another supplement to consider in tandem with collagen, since it maximizes the effectiveness of Vitamin C in the body. Alpha Lipoic Acid is also an antioxidant that helps to reduce swelling and pain in the joints.