Collagen for Menopause: Can It Help?
Menopause is often referred to as a “second puberty,” the time leading up to menopause is characterized by various hormonal changes and symptoms. For many women, this can be a turbulent time with sudden and unexpected hot flashes, mood swings, and fatigue.
On top of this, decreased collagen production may lead to dull, and dry skin. This is also why many menopausal and post-menopausal women are at a higher risk of osteoporosis; Less collagen leads to more brittle bones.
Luckily, there is ever-emerging research and anecdotal evidence showing that collagen consumption may support symptoms associated with menopause. So, should you take collagen for menopause? How can collagen support your body through this challenging time and help you combat unwanted menopausal symptoms? Let’s find out!
How Menopause Impacts Collagen (And Your Body)
Collagen is the most abundant protein found in the human body. It supports healthy bones, connective tissues, hair, skin, and nails.
Yet, studies show a significant reduction in collagen synthesis occurs during menopause. In fact, some research shows that up to 30% of dermal collagen is lost in the first 5 years after the menopause and that levels subsequently reduce at a rate of 2% each post-menopausal year.
So, why does this happen? During menopause, estrogen production decreases, halting the reproductive functions of the body and causing menstruation to stop altogether. In fact, menopause technically happens when menstruation hasn’t occurred for a consecutive 12 months. However, estrogen beta receptors in the skin’s dermal matrix are actually involved in the formation of collagen.
Thus, due to the decline in estrogen, collagen production also experiences a decline. In turn, reduced collagen leads to diminished elasticity and skin strength. With menopause, dry skin is further very common due to these hormonal changes. As a result, a woman may experience increased sagging, fine lines, and wrinkles. It's also common to experience decreased bone density, as collagen is a key structural protein that supports strong bones.
5 Ways Collagen Can Help With Menopausal Symptoms
The good news is that taking collagen supplements for menopause can help alleviate some of these health and age-related concerns.
In face, a large majority of menopausal women experience various symptoms including hot flashes, vaginal dryness, night sweats, sleep problems, dry skin, brittle hair and nails, mood changes, weight gain, and more. In other words, you aren’t alone!
Collagen supplements can help address some of these issues. Meanwhile, lifestyle interventions, alongside medical or hormonal recommendations made by your doctor, can help you find relief from other symptoms. So, what exactly can collagen help with? Is collagen for menopause right for you?
1. It May Enhance Skin Elasticity.
As we age, our body (and skin!) faces inevitable wear and tear. And it’s no secret that most of us would like to halt time altogether or, at the very least, slow it down. While there are various options when it comes to expensive anti-aging cosmetic procedures, collagen supplementation provides an easy and all-natural approach to address your skin aging concerns.
Not only does collagen help with the dreaded menopause dry skin but a 2015 study further shows how collagen supplementation leads to significant improvements in wrinkle depth, elasticity, and hydration of the skin in females aged 45-64. In fact, other research demonstrates how these effects persisted even four weeks after halting regular collagen supplementation.
Collagen has this effect by increasing actual collagen within the dermis, as well as stimulating fibroblasts to produce more elastin, collagen, and even hyaluronic acid. If the idea of going under the knife sounds drastic or completely out of your element, collagen supplementation might just provide a more natural and healthy alternative!
2. It May Improve Bone Density.
The decline of estrogen has more effects on the body than just reproductive aspects. Usually, estrogen has a protective effect on the bones in the body. Yet, with a loss of estrogen, bone density begins to rapidly decline pre and post-menopause, increasing your risk of osteoporosis and even bone fractures.
While bone density loss can be combated with strength training and proper nutritional intakes, collagen supplementation may also aid in supporting your skeletal system. A scientific review even concluded that collagen hydrolysate has a positive therapeutic role in osteoporosis and osteoarthritis, potentially increasing bone mineral density, protecting cartilage, and providing pain relief.
3. It May Enhance Hair Volume and Growth.
Collagen makes up 70% of the dermis, the middle layer of skin that houses individual hair roots. As estrogen and progesterone decrease during menopause, your hair may actually thin out and even grow slower than it used to. For many, this can significantly impact their self-esteem and confidence. Luckily, yet again, collagen supplementation may help reduce this menopausal side effect.
Studies show that collagen supplementation can lead to significant improvements in hair volume, thickness, and shine, along with enhanced skin smoothness. This is because collagen supplementation may contribute to increased production of hair proteins, as well as improve the health of hair follicles.
4. It May Help With Maintaining a Healthy Weight.
Weight gain is a common side effect experienced during and after menopause. Many women complain of increased weight around their belly, and as a result, many try various methods to get rid of it. In fact, several of these fad diets and quick fixes end up actually working against many women in the long run. However, consuming a healthy diet, along with a good intake of collagen, may help with satiety and aid in maintaining a healthy weight.
In animal studies, collagen supplementation was shown to reduce weight gain typically associated with a decline in estrogen levels during menopause. Combined with a regular strength training routine, collagen supplementation may even support muscle growth, giving way to a leaner physique and easier weight maintenance.
Collagen supplementation may further help you feel fuller for longer, leading you to avoid overeating or becoming hungry within an hour post-meal.
5. It May Improve Heart Health.
The benefits of collagen for menopausal symptoms further expands to the health of the heart. The decrease in estrogen production actually increases a woman’s risk of heart disease due to the narrowing of the arteries (which were previously protected by estrogen’s effects).
Research indicates that collagen supplementation may help lessen these adverse heart effects and help improve cholesterol levels and arterial health. Furthermore, staying active always supports a healthy heart at any age!
Finding The Best Collagen Supplements for Menopause
Hydrolyzed collagen may prove to be the best collagen supplements for menopause. This is because hydrolyzed collagen is already broken down into easily digested amino acids. In turn, this means your body can readily absorb and use these proteins.
Furthermore, a good quality collagen supplementation doesn’t contain any “fluff” ingredients, such as preservatives, additives, or fillers. In fact, these substances may actually cause digestive discomforts, which is the last thing any woman experiencing menopausal symptoms wants (or needs!).
In an ideal world, it’s recommended for most people (menopausal or not) to consume between 2.5 to 15 grams of collagen per day, depending on the instructions on the packaging.
Other Tips for Combating Menopausal Symptoms
When it comes to reducing and eliminating menopausal symptoms, a holistic approach is always best. Collagen for menopause can aid your body in various ways. However, there are also other lifestyle changes you can make to improve menopausal symptoms, such as:
- Regular strength training (two to three times a week)
- Ensuring you’re not deficient in any nutrients (blood tests with your doctor can confirm this)
- Eating a healthy and balanced diet consisting mainly of whole foods
- Finding ways to combat stress in your life (deep breathing techniques, meditation, etc.)
- Using moisturizer for dry skin
- Limiting or reducing alcohol intake
- Avoiding triggers (Some women find hot flashes and other symptoms may be triggered by spicy food, caffeine, alcohol, and more.)
- Making sure you consume enough calcium to improve bone health
- Quitting smoking (if applicable)
- Finding ways to cool down with the onset of a hot flash, such as with cold drinks, a fan, or even a cold shower
Should You Try Collagen Supplements for Menopause?
If you’re experiencing common menopausal symptoms, such as weight gain, dry skin, increased wrinkles, and decreased bone density, collagen may help you gain back control over your health and your life.
In fact, menopause doesn’t have to be a time marked by misery or discomfort. More so, it’s a fresh start in a woman’s life, offering a new chapter—one where you can get your health on track, including using collagen supplementation to your advantage!