Collagen is found in animals and humans and is a protein that makes up bone, skin, connective tissue, cartilage and other tissue. It contains high amounts of three vital amino acids: glycine, proline and hydroxyproline, which are important for revitalizing hair, skin and nails. Collagen production in the body slows down with age and with factors such as smoking or UV exposure. It has increasingly been used in cosmetics and health products, with the US market spending $122 million on collagen products last year.
The Bottom Line – Collagen is a protein found in animals including humans and has become popular as an ingredient in cosmetic and health products such as creams and supplements.
Collagen Health Benefits
Collagen is said to be essential in the healthy maintenance and repair of hair, skin and nails as well as muscle tissue repairs.
Below is a list of the possible benefits we’ve found:
Collagen Can Help With Wound Healing
Collagen can help wounds heal faster by attracting new skin cells to the site of the wound. Collagen dressings have been used to heal wounds that have not responded to other treatment; second-degree burns; wounds with decomposing tissue; sites of skin donation or skin grafts and wounds that expel bodily fluid such as urine or sweat. The collagen used in these products is usually sourced from cows. 
Collagen Can Help With Guided Tissue Regeneration
Membranes with a collagen base can be used to encourage the growth of a specific kind of cell. For example, after oral surgery collagen barriers can help prevent cells from the gum migrating to a wound in a tooth; this allows the tooth time to heal. Collagen barriers are absorbed by the body so they do not need to be surgically removed. 
Collagen Can Help With Osteoarthritis
A 2006 study found evidence to suggest that participants suffering from osteoarthritis who took supplements containing collagen had significant improvement in their pain levels and also had improvement in their joint function such as mobility and flexibility. 
The Bottom Line – Collagen has been found to have several proven medical uses such as wound healing and tissue regeneration, as well as some that are yet to be fully supported with clinical trials.
How To Use Collagen
The methods of using collagen are different for clinical and cosmetic uses, from wound dressings to capsules.
The most common methods of using collagen are:
- As a dressing (for tissue regeneration)
- As capsules (for skin and hair health)
- As a cream (for skin revitalizing)
- As a powder in hot beverages (for gut health and cosmetic purposes)
The optimal dosage amount for collagen is no more than 400mg of collagen capsules taken three times daily; advice is to also drink at least 1.5 liters of water throughout the day to encourage the benefits. In medical uses, your doctor should advise the correct dosage for supplementation or for wound healing. It is recommended that you do not exceed the dosage on your supplement bottle or take collagen with other supplements such as calcium pills due to the increased risk of hypercalcemia.
Are There Any Foods That Contain Collagen?
There are plenty of foods that both contain collagen and encourage collagen production within the body. Red and orange vegetables that contain lycopene such as red peppers and carrots, dark green leafy vegetables such as kale and berries are all abundant plant-based sources of collagen.
White tea, citrus fruits such as lemons and oranges, wild salmon and soy are other excellent sources of collagen. Bone broth, grass-fed meat and other fatty fish such as tuna and mackerel are more options for a diet rich in collagen.
These foods increase health by providing more collagen within them as well as providing nutrients to protect skin and hair; leafy greens, for example, contain vitamin C for all-round health and red veggies contain lycopene which acts as a natural sunblock.
Collagen Side Effects List
There are always risks to taking a new supplement, even if they have been used safely by others, so talk to your doctor before changing your diet.
The following side effects could potentially be:
Hypercalcemia (high calcium levels), Hypersensitivity Reactions (allergic reactions), A Bad Taste In The Mouth and Decreased Appetite.
Note: these side effects are possible but are not the typical user experience; most people increasing their intake of collagen do not experience these side effects.
Is Collagen Safe?
As collagen is made in our bodies naturally, it is generally considered safe to use for medical and some cosmetic purposes. Remember, prior to using collagen you should consult with your doctor if you have any kind of medical condition and you should be especially careful if you are prone to hypercalcemia (high levels of calcium in the body).
When Should I Not Take Collagen?
- If you’re a child under the age of 18: Children under 18 should not consume collagen powder unless under the direction and supervision of a doctor.
Collagen is a vital component of a healthy diet and increasing dietary intake may be beneficial for both health and cosmetic reasons especially for adults over the age of 25. Talk to your doctor about any potential changes to your diet or supplement schedule.