Unless you have been living under a rock, you are probably aware of collagen supplements. Scroll through any random fitness account on Facebook or Instagram, and you’ll come across a collagen supplement being celebrated for supporting joints and strengthening muscles. It has also been of prime importance in the beauty world and has even been labeled as the fountain of youth.
But have you ever heard of using collagen to support brain health? The whole world is most interested in this unique benefit of collagen. It’s intriguing to know that the latest research strongly agrees on the role of collagen in protecting brain cells against various issues, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Although most of these studies are in early phases and it’s too early to confirm anything, it is pretty clear that collagen does carry some brain-supporting benefits.
This article will shed light on collagen as a potential supplement for brain health, its uses, side effects, and how to choose a good collagen supplement for yourself.
What is Collagen: An Overview
To put it simply, collagen is the most common protein in the body. As a primary component of the connective tissue, collagen provides functional and structural support to your skin, bones, tendons, muscles, and organs. It is also responsible for sending out important signals to your body cells to repair damage and fight inflammation.
The human body is naturally capable of producing collagen on its own. Unfortunately, this production process begins to decline as you age. With the plummeting stores of natural collagen come a host of issues, especially if you fail to compensate for it. To avoid these circumstances, experts often suggest relying on supplements.
But is it the only reason why you might consider popping in some collagen every now and then? Science says otherwise.
Collagen for Brain Health
Collagen, a hero ingredient in many beauty elixirs and fitness supplements, has so many amazing uses for our well-being. Its anti-aging properties make us look young and radiant, while its muscle-building effects help us put on mass and look and feel healthier. It can support us in exercise and even promote recovery after injury. It improves cardiovascular health and supports a healthy liver, too. But did you know that collagen can also positively affect brain health?
That’s right. Your very own muscle-building supplement can improve your brain performance too. As a pure protein, our brain requires collagen to work adequately. In the absence of this protein, brain degeneration is likely to occur. Structurally speaking, one-third of collagen is made up of a non-essential amino acid called glycine that plays a primary role in regulating brain health. Research has even proven its role in enhancing cognitive performance and supporting the treatment of patients with mental disorders.
Collagen and Schizophrenia
Further studies have also established a strong connection between glycine and schizophrenia. These studies found that the use of glycine in psychiatric patients can improve their symptoms. Collagen peptide, a form of collagen, has interestingly been linked to protecting the brain from schizophrenia by improving neural synapses.
Collagen and Alzheimer’s Disease
Experts have evidence to believe that a specific type of collagen protects the brain from a specific type of protein called amyloid-beta protein. The incidence of these protein accumulations has been widely linked with Alzheimer’s disease. So by preventing them from collecting in the neural tissue, collagen might protect you from acquiring this extremely distressing disease as you age.
Collagen and Cognition
Some scientists have even credited collagen for helping with brain fog. New research verifies it, suggesting that ingesting collagen hydrolysates may positively affect the structure of the brain and improve cognition.
Collagen and Sleep
Collagen has also been studied as an effective sleep aid. The onus of this effect is on glycine, an amino acid majorly found in this protein structure. Glycine not only helps the brain fall asleep faster but also ensures to keep you in a deeper and more restful state of sleep. A good night’s sleep, in turn, also supports brain performance.
With all the benefits of collagen on the brain, it can easily be regarded as a super ingredient to add to daily life. With all its amazing benefits, collagen really may be a super ingredient.
Side Effects of Collagen
Collagen is generally well-tolerated in a supplement form with very few and mild side effects. However, it must be kept in mind that some collagen-based supplements contain common food allergens, such as eggs, shellfish, and fish. Individuals with allergies to these food groups should be extremely careful while using collagen supplements. While using a supplement, keep an eye out for the common symptoms of an allergic reaction which include:
- Excessive itching on the body
- Tingling or itching sensations in the throat
- Swelling of face, lips, throat, tongue, or other parts of the body
- Dizziness or fainting
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- Shortness of breath
A handful of users have reported experiencing bloating and nausea while consuming collagen supplements. However, in most cases, these side effects usually settle on their own. In some, collagen may cause digestive discomfort.
Overall, collagen supplements appear to be safe on the whole.
Choosing the Best Collagen Supplements
From bone broths to powders and pills, consuming collagen is slowly popularizing among the masses. However, the concept of supplementing this protein is certainly not new. In fact, people have been relying on collagen to rejuvenate skin and achieve their beauty goals for years, and this decades-old remedy is catching the attention of beauty editors and celebrities just now.
With all sorts of powders, capsules, and liquid collagen stacked up on the shelves of a supermarket, it can be confusing for anyone wishing to try it out for a brain boost. While some of them can be amazing for your health, others can easily do more harm than good.
Look for the following points in mind while choosing a collagen supplement for yourself:
Source of Collagen
Most collagen supplements are extracted from the connective tissue of animals, including skin, bones, fish scales, and hooves. Make sure you grab a supplement with high-quality collagen made from pasture-raised, grass-fed animals or wild-caught fish for a more organic and wholesome experience.
Type of Collagen
Various supplements offer collagen in different forms, which include:
Collagen peptides: A tasteless, odorless form of powdered collagen that is dissolved into water to form a drink
Hydrolyzed collagen: This type of collagen has been broken down by enzymes through a process known as hydrolysis into smaller particles for faster absorbability.
Capsules: This type is convenient for people who are always on the run as it includes powdered collagen enclosed in capsules.
Gummies: These chewable gummies are usually not recommended due to the amount of added sugar, fillers, and other ingredients.
Choose the one that suits your needs.
Scrutinize the ingredients label of every supplement in detail and check for any added fillers, preservatives, or other types of additives. Some supplements contain added sugar in the form of coconut sugar, raw honey, stevia, molasses, or palm sugar. So if you see any of these names listed among the ingredients, the product is a big no-no.
The Food and Drug Administration does not need to approve Collagen supplements before hitting the stores. So if you decide to purchase one, consider a supplement with third-party validation, for example, USP. This is one way to ensure that you are consuming exactly what’s listed on the label.
Best Collagen Supplements To Try
Still confused about which collagen product to buy? Mentioned below are the top three collagen-based supplements to try today:
Price: $24 per jar
C/O Collagen is a popular supplement that comes with a personalized subscription program and supplement service. This feature allows you to personalize the products you receive through a quiz. C/O collagen contains bovine collagen sourced from grass-fed cows and can be easily blended into any drink. The formula is natural and free from dairy and gluten.
Thorne Collagen Plus
Price: $58 per jar
Featuring a blend of 13 grams of bovine together with a mix of polyphenol, this collagen supplement can support your brain health while strengthening nails, skin, and hair. It comes in a berry flavor and is free from soy, dairy, and gluten. The company manufacturing this supplement holds certification from an Australian government agency, Therapeutic Goods Administration.
Price: $38.80 per jar
This supplement provides hydrolyzed bovine collagen with other vitamins and fruit extract and can be easily mixed into a drink of your choice. It is non-GMO, free from synthetic dyes, flavors, sweeteners, and gluten, and holds NSF certification.
Touted as an effective remedy for healthier skin and stronger muscles, the use of collagen is not new. However, the latest evidence has unraveled its potential cognitive benefits only recently. With the potential to fight brain-related disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, induce more restful sleep, and enhance cognition, it can be a great solution to enjoy a healthy life with an efficiently working brain. Even though the research is still preliminary and more evidence is required to confirm it, collagen can be easily predicted as a nootropic of the future for sure.