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September 20, 2021


Lindsay Delk, RDN
Collagen For Stronger Bones And Muscles

Fact Checked By Lindsay Delk, RDN
 September 20, 2021


The development of your bones and muscles began before you were even born. 

Their development continues through every stage of your life. 

Whether you are young or old, the strength of your bones and muscles is vitally important and has huge implications for your quality of life as you age. 

You may not have given a lot of thought to collagen, but this fibrous, supportive protein is a major building block of your bones and muscles.

What Is Collagen?

Collagen makes up about ⅓ of the protein in your body. Many people describe collagen as the glue that holds your body together. The word collagen actually comes from the Greek word kolla, which means glue (1, 2).

As you age, you break down collagen faster than you replace it. Starting in your mid-20s, you begin to lose about 1% of your collagen each year. And you lose up to 30% during the first five years of menopause. (3)

Because collagen is a major component of bones and muscles, it is important to understand collagen’s function and how to provide enough collagen for your bones and muscles to stay healthy.


Collagen and Your Bones

Although we think of bones as hard and rigid, they actually need to be somewhat flexible. Your bones are primarily made of collagen. 

The collagen in your bones is tough and provides structure, flexibility, and strength. 

The flexibility and resilience of your bones depend on having healthy collagen. 

If your collagen levels are low, your bones may become brittle, weak, and more likely to break.

Research shows that taking a hydrolyzed collagen supplement can improve your bone mineral density (BMD). 

This means your bones are stronger, less likely to develop osteoporosis, and less likely to break.

  • Less bone loss

In one study, postmenopausal women took either a calcium and vitamin D supplement combined with 5 grams of collagen or a calcium and vitamin D supplement without collagen (4). 

They took this each day for 12 months. 

The women taking the collagen supplement along with the calcium and vitamin D supplement had significantly less bone loss at the end of the study.

  • Increased bone density

In another study, 66 postmenopausal women took 5 grams of collagen each day for 12 months while 65 participants did not (5).

The women who took the collagen showed an increase in bone mineral density compared to no change in the women who did not take collagen. 

The women who took the collagen also had more bone formation and less breakdown of their bones.

Collagen and Your Muscles

Collagen is the major structural protein in skeletal muscle and makes up about 1–10% of your muscle mass. Maintaining your muscle mass is not only important if you are an athlete, but it’s also important for overall health and aging (6).

As you age, you typically lose muscle mass and muscle strength. This is called sarcopenia. One possible reason that muscle mass decreases with age is that collagen decreases with age. You can delay and slow down sarcopenia with regular physical activity, especially strength training. Eating an adequate amount of protein along with strength training can increase muscle mass and strength even more.

Collagen protein, in particular, might be the best type of protein for optimal results. Collagen contains a high amount of the amino acid, glycine. Glycine is needed to make creatine that your body uses during exercise (7).

Studies suggest that hydrolyzed collagen supplements help boost muscle mass and strength in the young and old. They can also help you recover from exercise with less soreness.

  • Increased muscle and bone mass and decreased fat mass

Research shows that taking a collagen supplement combined with strength training increases muscle mass and bone mass and decreases fat mass (8).

53 elderly men with sarcopenia completed a program of strength training for 12 weeks. 

Some of the men were given a collagen supplement and the others were given a placebo.

While all of the men had higher muscle mass, higher bone mass, and lower fat mass from the exercising, the collagen supplement further increased the benefits. 

The men who received the collagen supplement had a greater increase in muscle mass and muscle strength and lost more fat.

While this study looked at elderly men, the next study looked at young men.

  • Increased muscle mass and muscle strength

After seeing the positive results of combining a collagen supplement with strength training in elderly men, researchers conducted another study on 25 young men (9). 

After 12 weeks of strength training, the young men who took a hydrolyzed collagen supplement had more muscle mass and more muscle strength compared with the young men who did not take collagen.

  • Quicker exercise recovery with less soreness

A recent study also showed that taking a hydrolyzed collagen supplement might help to speed up the recovery of muscles and decrease muscle soreness after exercising (10).

The researchers speculated that this could be due to increasing collagen in the connective tissues or decreasing inflammation.

How to Choose a Collagen Supplement Powder

For a collagen supplement to be beneficial to your body, it must be easily digested and absorbed in your gut. You want to look for a collagen supplement that is hydrolyzed. Hydrolyzed means that the collagen is already broken down into smaller pieces of proteins that are more bioavailable and better absorbed by your gut.

You may see the terms hydrolyzed collagen, collagen hydrolysate, or collagen peptides on supplement labels. These are all different names for the same thing.

Hydrolyzed collagen powder is also easy to dissolve in hot or cold drinks, smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt, or any soft food. Choose a supplement that has no flavor, color, or sweeteners added so it won’t affect the taste of your food or drinks.

Taking your collagen supplement with a source of vitamin C will help the beneficial effects because vitamin C plays an important role in the synthesis of collagen in your body.

If you are looking for a safe way to make your bones and muscles stronger, try a hydrolyzed collagen supplement. Make sure you buy your collagen supplement from a reputable source, and remember to always talk to your doctor before taking any supplement.