Despite being on the market for some time now, collagen supplements still seem to garner many questions. How long does it take until you see results? (Answer: It depends!) How much should you take? (There's no recommended dosage at this time, but we have some pretty good research to support a range of 10 to 20 grams a day.) Are collagen supplements vegan? (Hard no! You can find collagen-supporting supplements made from vegan ingredients but not collagen itself.)
While those questions are pretty general, others come down to personal factors, such as age, sex, weight, activity level, and lifestyle habits—which brings us to the question at hand: What should men know about taking collagen supplements?
Now, we bring this up because sex and hormones can influence what supplements you decide to take. For example, someone going through menopause will likely have a different routine than a 20-something cis male.
So is such the case for collagen? Here's what we know.
Should men take collagen supplements?
Most adults could benefit from collagen supplements—no matter their age or sex—as it' boasts a host of universal benefits, and is generally very well tolerated.* And did we mention: Hello, protein. So should men take collagen specifically? Well, if you're a man and want to take it: By all means!
Really the only difference you may find for collagen supplementation as it relates to men is protein dosage. Allow me to explain.
Collagen is a type of protein (it's an incomplete protein, but more on that in a second). For healthy adults, you need at least 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight per day for muscle mass maintenance. From there, protein needs increase based on activity levels: highly active adults should consume 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.
Collagen supplementation can help you achieve your daily protein intake, and can act as a complementary source of amino acids. In fact, a 2019 study found that as much as 36% of daily protein could come from collagen peptides while simultaneously achieving daily essential amino acid requirements.*
And since many men weigh more than the average woman (and typically have more connective tissues, where collagen resides)—men may need a higher collagen dose. Of course, this is neither definitive nor true in every case, and should be evaluated on a person-by-person basis.
As mbg's vice president of scientific affairs Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN, explains, "Every supplement ritual should be individualized, but some supplements get unfairly labeled as only relevant to women or men. That's unfortunate since nutrition and bioactives are rarely binary. Saying collagen is only for women is like saying calcium is only for women. In reality, men have connective tissues—skin, bones, joints, muscles, tendons, vessels, etc.—that collagen is literally critical for, just like men have bones and require calcium."*
5 benefits of collagen supplements for men
Collagen benefits are systemic and universal.* When you ingest peptides, your body absorbs and distributes the amino acids where they are needed. So here are all the ways adding a collagen supplement to your routine can benefit you:
I think we can all move past the stereotype that men don't care about their appearance and skin as they age. Collagen supplements can support the skin in a variety of ways, from firmness to hydration.*
For example, one study found that they are able to support skin elasticity and dermal collagen density.* Another double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial found that participants' moisture levels in the skin were seven times higher than those who did not take collagen supplements.*
Hair thinning is a very common situation for most men, and one way you can help healthy hair naturally is by providing the body with all the needed building blocks for keratin, the protein that makes up hair. What are those building blocks? Amino acids, many of which are found in collagen peptides.* In fact, the main amino acid in keratin is proline—which is readily found in many collagen supplements.
While this is a newer area of study for collagen supplements, research has found that levels of certain types of collagen are lower in individuals with digestive challenges.* And much of the gut benefits are due to collagen peptides' specific amino acid makeup.
For example, research has found that one of the main amino acids in collagen, L-glutamate, supports the intestine by neutralizing oxidative stress and acts as a major fuel source for the cells in the intestine.* The cells of our gut lining also use proline and glycine for energy, two other amino acids found in collagen.*
Collagen is not technically a complete protein—meaning it does not contain all nine of the essential amino acids (it has eight of them)—but it still delivers plenty of amino acids that can contribute to muscle mass, when taken as part of a robust diet.* This is especially true when combined with the right fitness routines.
In one small clinical study, men who took 15 grams of collagen daily while participating in an exercise program gained more muscle mass than those who only completed the exercise program.*
Ferira adds, "Men, muscles, and collagen is an emerging area of research I see gaining momentum. For example, in this compelling clinical trial, 15 grams of collagen peptides combined with resistance exercise training in young healthy men netted significant gains in lean mass (muscle) and muscle strength, more than just resistance training by itself.
Not only that, but the researchers discovered that the men's muscle protein was upregulated (i.e., those genes were cranked up), particularly the contractile fibers, which make your muscles work well and with speed."*
Collagen type II is a common structural component of our joints. One randomized clinical trial found that people who took a type II collagen supplement for 180 days experienced improvements in their physical function and helped improve joint mobility and comfort.*
Does collagen have any side effects men should be worried about?
Anytime you start a new supplement, you should take note of any cautions or side effects. Luckily collagen is a safe and widely tolerated protein. Collagen peptides are safe for consumption, and few side effects, complaints, or cautions are reported, all of which fall into the "benign" bucket.
However, everyone is different, and everyone's body reacts to products in unique ways. This is why some side effects are reported anecdotally.
You can learn more about the common collagen side effects here, but as a brief overview:
- Some brands can taste unpleasant due to the collagen itself or less-than-appetizing filler ingredients.
- Anecdotally, some individuals report bloating, stomach upset, and fullness.
- We all have different sensitivities, so be careful to check where the ingredient is sourced and all other added ingredients in case you personally have an allergen.
- Vegans should avoid collagen, as collagen peptides are derived from animals (cows, fish, and chicken most often).
Not every supplement is right for every body or every need. But collagen tends to be a pretty safe bet for most, no matter your sex. Additionally, it has robust universal benefits!*
Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.