Who usually needs collagen preparations
Collagen for cartilage and connective tissue
The protein collagen makes many body tissues elastic. Collagen makes the skin, bones and cartilage resistant to pressure and elastic. In micronutrient medicine, collagen is therefore used to strengthen connective tissue, for example in joint diseases and skin problems. Read here how collagen works and how you can optimally supplement the effect.
Properties and occurrence in food
Properties of collagen and collagen hydrolyzate
Collagen is a protein that is comparable to steel cables: outside of the cells (extracellular) it forms a framework around the cells with many other components. Collagen is therefore also known as a structural protein. It maintains the shape of the body and is found wherever strength is important - such as skin, bones, tendons, ligaments, joints and intervertebral discs.
Collagen consists of protein threads that are tightly twisted into one another. Like all other proteins, collagen is made up of amino acids: It contains a particularly large amount of glycine, proline and lysine. However, the amino acids proline must first be changed with the help of vitamin C. This creates hydroxyproline, which enables cross-links between the molecules so that they hold together much more firmly.
Native collagen: A distinction is made between denatured collagen and native collagen. Factors like heat or acids destroy the structure of collagen. Gelatin, for example, is denatured collagen. Native collagen still retains its naturally ordered form and is preferred for some conditions such as joint inflammation.
Not all collagen is created equal. There are different types of it. Type II collagen occurs in joints, type III in muscles, and I and III in skin. Simple gelatin is a mixture of type I, II and III collagen.
Production of collagen hydrolyzate: When you heat collagen with acids and alkalis, smaller fragments are created, so-called collagen peptides. In contrast to gelatine, gelatine hydrolysates do not form a gel in water, but are liquid.
Occurrence in food
Collagen: Everyone has probably made the acquaintance of gelatine. It consists essentially of purified collagen. Gelatine can bind a lot of water and cause liquids to gel. That is why it is processed in the food industry, for example to thicken foods such as jelly, gummy bears, sausage products or to stabilize cream foam.
Collagen hydrolyzate: Collagen and its hydrolyzate are low in calories and even replace some of the fat and salt in light products.
Five major collagen suppliers:
|Grams (g) per 100 calories (kcal)|
Grams per 100 grams
1 to 2
4 to 8
1.4 to 2
5 to 7
Pure ground beef
1.6 and more
3.6 and more
0.8 to 2.5 and more
2.5 and more
Note: values can fluctuate.
Needs and functions in the body
Daily collagen requirement
The body can produce collagen on its own. Therefore it does not have to be taken in with food, nor can a precise need be determined. However, the body benefits from being offered the building blocks glycine, lysine or proline, as it builds up a lot of collagen: around a third of the body's proteins are made up of it.
In young people, collagen is formed in large quantities and damaged structures are quickly replaced. These processes become significantly slower with age. Then the wrinkles visibly increase in the face. Upper arms and thighs become increasingly slack. The articular cartilage also degrades more strongly with age.
Increased need for collagen: age, illness and environmental influences
The need for collagen building blocks increases when collagen is built up too slowly or is damaged and with increased tissue stress:
Need for collagen build-up: The connective tissue of older people, rheumatics, osteoarthritis patients, diabetics and smokers is more stressed than in healthy people. Likewise, people with skin damage and wounds or muscle breakdown (sarcopenia) need to build up more connective tissue. Bodybuilders also often use collagen products for joint protection and muscle building.
Collagen: uptake and distribution
Collagen is broken down in the intestine and the building blocks and smaller fragments are absorbed. Collagen hydrolyzate is already "pre-digested"; the fragments are available to the body after just four hours.
There is no storage of collagen in the narrower sense. The building blocks are used up immediately or built into the skin and joints. In order for the body's own collagen to be produced correctly, the body needs vitamin C.
What is the effect of collagen?
Collagen is used to build up the body. It also has other physiological functions.
Joints and skin: Collagen therefore improves tissue nutrition and promotes regeneration. This could be shown in animal experiments in which radioactively labeled collagens were fed to animals. The components were built into joint structures and skin. Vitamin C is very important in this process.
Collagen soothes inflammatory processes in the body. It has been shown in animals that collagen reduces tissue-degrading activities. The joints and skin, for example, benefit from this. Collagen soothes pain and joint inflammation and promotes skin health.
Cardiovascular: Collagen hydrolyzate lowers high blood pressure. Responsible is a fragment that is created during the decomposition process. It is also believed that collagen improves the repair processes on the vessel walls.
Use with diseases
Type II collagen: help with osteoarthritis
Collagen is particularly important for the strength of the cartilage. It has therefore been investigated whether products with collagen help with joint wear (osteoarthritis) and promote the development of cartilage.
One study examined 108 volunteers with osteoarthritis of the knee. They benefited from taking collagen. They swallowed either 20 milligrams of native type II collagen, a comparator medication (glucosamine, 375 milligrams, plus chondroitin sulfate, 300 milligrams) or a dummy drug for 90 days. Collagen helped best with pain, joint stiffness and joint function; its effect was more than twice that of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate.
An evaluation of all available studies on this topic shows that collagen has a positive effect on pain. If the joint function is restricted, the data are less reliable. Further studies will therefore follow to confirm this.
For osteoarthritis, 10 to 40 milligrams of native collagen or 5,000 to 10,000 milligrams of collagen hydrolyzate are used in studies.
Movement necessary: Light movement or physical therapy are important for joint problems. In contrast to other tissues, joint cartilage is hardly supplied with blood. In order for nutrients to get into the cartilage, physical exercise is necessary: the cartilage is compressed like a sponge
Possible alternative to medication: Collagen is very well tolerated compared to standard drugs with a lot of side effects such as diclofenac (such as Voltaren®), ibuprofen (such as Aktren®), indomethacin (such as Amuno®), piroxicam (such as Piroflam® and Pirobeta®) and acemetacin (such as Rantudil®) . Collagen is also an option for people who cannot take these standard medications because of previous illnesses (for example of the digestive organs).
Type II collagen in rheumatism
In rheumatism, the joint becomes violently inflamed. The cartilage is broken down and damaged by the inflammation. Many rheumatism patients also have antibodies in their blood that actively attack the cartilage (rheumatoid arthritis). Collagen should help with rheumatism.
In studies, rheumatics swallowed a collagen preparation made from 20 milligrams of native type II collagen every day. After 90 days, the quality of life improved significantly: the pain decreased significantly more with collagen than with the control treatment. It is discussed whether the collagen is incorporated directly into the cartilage or whether it triggers an anti-inflammatory reaction in the body.
The therapy could be suitable for saving the consumption of standard drugs that are rich in side effects. Micronutrients recommend 20 milligrams of native type II collagen for rheumatism.
Native collagen type II probably works via a special mechanism: It is known that substances in the digestive system promote a "tolerance" of the immune system. This weakens the attack of the own immune system via the intestines. This is supported by the fact that rheumatism patients in particular respond with antibodies against collagen. The small amounts of collagen that are necessary for an effect also reinforce this argument.
Fight fibromyalgia with collagen
Fibromyalgia is a pain disorder. It is also known as generalized soft tissue rheumatism. The patients have lower levels of collagen in their muscles and skin. First preliminary studies indicate a possible effectiveness of collagen against soft tissue rheumatism.
In a study, 20 patients were successfully treated with collagen hydrolyzate. The patients had had fibromyalgia for two to 15 years when they took collagen hydrolyzate. The evaluation took place after 90 days. The pain had decreased significantly on average. Some patients responded more strongly than others.
New studies are expected that allow an objective comparison with a dummy drug. Such studies are a good indication of effectiveness in medical research. Until then, the collagen hydrolyzate is regarded as a therapeutic hope for fibromyalgia; it can be used as a supplement if other therapies are not sufficient.
For soft tissue rheumatism, 5,000 to 10,000 milligrams of collagen hydrolyzate can be useful.
Collagen for stressed joints: sport
The joints are particularly stressed during exercise. Sometimes this is followed by joint pain with wear and tear (osteoarthritis). Collagen may help with the problem.
In one study, 147 athletes drank a solution containing 10 grams of collagen hydrolyzate or a dummy drug. An evaluation by a doctor after 24 weeks showed that the group with the collagen hydrolyzate suffered significantly less pain. Since the values fluctuate very strongly, further investigations in larger groups are necessary.
10 grams of collagen hydrolyzate is recommended for joint pain caused by exercise or to prevent joint wear and tear.
Collagen hydrolyzate against wrinkles
During the natural aging process, damaged collagens in the skin are increasingly destroyed and regenerated less quickly. That is why collagen can also be used as an active ingredient in cosmetics.
A clinical study deals with the effect of collagen hydrolyzate on the complexion of the skin in older women between 35 and 55 years of age. They took 2,500 or 5,000 milligrams of collagen hydrolyzate daily. After a treatment period of eight weeks, the skin was tested: Compared to the dummy drug, the elasticity of the skin had improved in the women with collagen treatment. In some of the women, the skin hydration also improved. The collagen hydrolyzate was very well tolerated.
Other successful studies use complex products that, in addition to collagen, contain vitamins (such as vitamins B1, C and biotin), minerals (copper) and hyaluronic acid. A decrease in the wrinkles around the eyes and the folds of the mouth was also recorded. In about a third of women, the signs of photoaging and skin hydration improved. After eight weeks, the wrinkles were also significantly reduced in 15 out of 100 women. In this experiment, individual women responded better than others.
Other studies confirm these findings. Collagen often improves skin hydration and the production of connective tissue fibers in the skin.
Collagen is also used to inject wrinkles. However, this can lead to irritation and allergies. Internal use via capsules or tablets, on the other hand, is very tolerable.
When treating skin problems, the studies used between 2,500 and 10,000 milligrams of collagen hydrolyzate.
When treating skin problems, the studies used between 2,500 and 10,000 milligrams of collagen hydrolyzate.
With orange peel (cellulite), irregular distributions of the strengthening elements are involved in the typical dents in the skin. Reinforcing the skin should make a positive contribution to the complexion. Many skin-nourishing substances such as collagen are tested in this area.
A first study found slightly positive effects with collagen, while there was no improvement in the group with dummy medication. Women (24 to 50 years of age) with moderately severe cellulite were treated with 2,500 milligrams of collagen hydrolyzate per day for six months.
Collagen against muscle breakdown
Muscle loss (sarcopenia) is often seen in old age, especially when people are sick and do not move much. A targeted supply of collagen in combination with exercise can improve this process again.
One study tested 53 older men with muscle loss. They received either 15,000 milligrams of collagen hydrolyzate or silica. In addition, they trained their muscles for twelve weeks. In the collagen group, the lean body mass - that is, connective tissue and muscles - increased by 4.2 kilograms, in the group with silica only by 2.9 kilograms.
The study used 15 grams of collagen hydrolyzate per day. Larger studies need to provide more evidence for this finding.
Dosage recommendations at a glance
Dosage of collagen per day in milligrams (mg)
Joint wear (osteoarthritis)
10 to 40 native collagen type II or
5,000 to 10,000 collagen hydrolyzate
20 native collagen type II
Fibromyalgia (soft tissue rheumatism)
5,000 to 10,000 collagen hydrolyzate
2,500 to 10,000 collagen hydrolyzate
Orange peel (cellulite)
5,000 to 10,000 collagen hydrolyzate
10,000 collagen hydrolyzate
Muscle breakdown (sarcopenia)
15,000 collagen hydrolyzate
Athletes with joint problems
10,000 collagen hydrolyzate
Collagen: when and how should you take it?
Collagen is made by the body itself. A balanced diet with enough protein provides sufficient building blocks for the production of collagen. In healthy people, the supply from food is sufficient.
If there is an increased need or previous illnesses, the diet can also contribute to the build-up of collagen. However, it is not always easy to get effective amounts of collagen through food. In addition, the calorie content of foods such as gummy bears must be taken into account. The available studies show that people with pre-existing conditions could benefit from an extra dose. Collagen and hydrolyzate are low in calories. They hardly contain any sugar or fats. The products are therefore also suitable for diabetes or weight loss. People with weakened digestion can use the hydrolyzate more easily because it is already pre-digested. Collagen supplements are taken with a little liquid with food.
Collagen: what forms are there?
Capsules for swallowing or protein powder for stirring into drinks or drinking ampoules are available on the market.
If larger amounts of collagen or collagen hydrolyzate are used, use in ampoules or powder form is recommended. Powders are usually more beneficial for the environment.
Collagen and collagen hydrolyzate can be stirred into drinks or food.
Gelatine and collagen are obtained from animal raw materials such as cattle, pigs, chickens or fish. Those who do not consume pork products or are allergic to fish can switch to collagen from beef or chicken.
Collagen is neither vegetarian nor vegan. People who eat this way can suffer from joint and connective tissue problems other Add building blocks like vegan amino acid mixtures and vegan glucosamine.
How do you recognize a high quality collagen preparation?
High-quality preparations contain no unnecessary preservatives, additives, sugar or flavorings. The breakdown into the building blocks of collagen hydrolyzate and a high degree of purity reduce the risk of intolerance.
When treating joint inflammation with collagen, the gentle Preparation important. Therefore, use native collagen and not denatured one. In the case of inflammatory joint problems, you should also ensure that the manufacturer specifies the type of collagen (collagen type II).
Overdose and drug interactions
Is a collagen overdose possible?
For gelatin there are no known overdoses. Also at native The available data show that collagen is highly tolerated.
Minor side effects such as indigestion (gas, constipation, nausea) have been observed with collagen in sensitive individuals.
If collagen is injected into the body - as with wrinkle fillers or implants - there is a risk of developing an allergy.
Collagen is a natural part of food. However, less of it is consumed through modern nutrition than was previously the case: cartilage and sinewy meat, brawn and boiled bones are consumed less. The available studies show that an additional supply of collagen can be useful for pre-existing conditions and increased needs.
Micronutrient therapy uses collagen to support connective tissue metabolism. It helps with joint wear and tear as well as rheumatic joint inflammation. Clinical studies confirm the effectiveness.
The skin metabolism also benefits from a good supply of collagen: Collagen may help treat wrinkles and orange peel. In addition, it is assumed that collagen can provide support when there is considerable stress on the connective tissue, as occurs in bodybuilders.
Directory studies and sources
Asserin, J. et al. (2015): The effect of oral collagen peptide supplementation on skin moisture and the dermal collagen network: evidence from an ex vivo model and randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials. J Cosmet Dermatol. 14 (4): 291-301. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26362110, accessed on: November 4, 2017.
Barnett, M.L. et al. (1998): Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis with oral type II collagen. Results of a multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Arthritis rheum. 41 (2): 290-7. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09637480802498820, Accessed on September 28, 2017.
Borumand, M. & Sibilla, S. (2014): Daily consumption of the collagen supplement Pure Gold Collagen® reduces visible signs of aging. Clin Interv Aging. 13; 9: 1747-58. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25342893, accessed on: September 28, 2017.
Clark, K.L. et al. (2008): 24-Week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain. Curr Med Res Opin. 24 (5): 1485-96. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18416885, accessed on: September 28, 2017.
Crowley, D.C. et al. (2009): Safety and efficacy of undenatured type II collagen in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee: a clinical trial. Int J Med Sci. 6 (6): 312-21. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19847319, accessed on: September 28, 2017.
German Nutrition Society (DGE), Austrian Nutrition Society (ÖGE), Swiss Nutrition Society (SGE) (2016): Reference values for nutrient intake. 2nd edition. Neuer Umschau Buchverlag GmbH Neustadt / Weinstrasse.
Lee, S.K. et al. (2006): Pressure ulcer healing with a concentrated, fortified, collagen protein hydrolysate supplement: a randomized controlled trial. Adv Skin Wound Care. 19 (2): 92-6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16557055, accessed on: September 28, 2017.
Lugo, J.P. et al. (2016): Efficacy and tolerability of an undenatured type II collagen supplement in modulating knee osteoarthritis symptoms: a multicenter randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Nutr J.15: 14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4731911/, accessed on: September 28, 2017.
Lugo, J.P. et al. (2013): Undenatured type II collagen (UC-II®) for joint support: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study in healthy volunteers. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 24; 10 (1): 48. doi: 10.1186 / 1550-2783-10-48. Retrieved on: November 3, 2017.
Olson, G.B. et al. (2000): The effects of collagen hydrolyzate on symptoms of chronic fibromyalgia and temporomandibular joint pain. Cranio. 18 (2): 135-41. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11202824, accessed on: September 28, 2017.
Proksch, E. et al. (2014): Oral supplementation of specific collagen peptides has beneficial effects on human skin physiology: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 27 (1): 47-55., Https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23949208, accessed on: September 28, 2017.
Saiga-Egusa, A. et al. (2009): Antihypertensive effects and endothelial progenitor cell activation by intake of chicken collagen hydrolysate in pre- and mild-hypertension. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 73: 422-424. https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/bbb/73/2/73_80189/_pdf, Accessed on September 28, 2017.
Schunck, M. et al. (2015): Dietary Supplementation with Specific Collagen Peptides Has a Body Mass Index-Dependent Beneficial Effect on Cellulite Morphology. J Med Food. 18 (12): 1340-8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26561784, accessed on: September 28, 2017.
Van Vijven, J.P. et al. (2012): Symptomatic and chondroprotective treatment with collagen derivatives in osteoarthritis: a systematic review. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 20 (8): 809-21. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22521757, Accessed on September 28, 2017.
Zague, V. et al. (2017): Collagen Peptides Modulates the Metabolism of Extracellular Matrix by Human Dermal Fibroblasts Derived from Sun-Protected and Sun-Exposed Body Sites. Cell Biol Int. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28906033, accessed on: September 28, 2017.
Zdzieblik, D. et al. (2015): Collagen peptide supplementation in combination with resistance training improves body composition and increases muscle strength in elderly sarcopenic men: a randomized controlled trial. Br J Nutr. 28; 114 (8): 1237-45. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26353786, accessed on: September 28, 2017.
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