Collagen & Hair: Does Collagen Increase Hair Growth?
People are turning to collagen to look good and maintain healthy, vibrant skin and hair. So, does collagen increase hair growth?
While more scientific research is needed to substantiate claims related to healthy hair, there is supporting evidence that collagen works with the cells in your body to build amino acids and fight free radicals.
Whether obtained through your diet or taken as a supplement, it’s an additional step you can take to treat joint pain, enhance healthy hair growth, and fight wrinkles.
Let’s dive a little deeper into the subject!
What is Collagen?
Collagen is a protein found naturally in the connective tissues of the human body.
When we are young, we have plenty of it, but as we age, we produce less. It makes up around 30% of our protein content and is responsible for many functions. It keeps our nails, bones, and cartilage strong.
Furthermore, it plays a crucial role in keeping connective tissue healthy and is a major part of the dermis—the layer of skin where your hair takes root. As a bonus, collagen helps with your immune response.
There are 28 types of collagen that scientists know about, and they break them up into types. Here are just a few:
- Type I is the most common, with 90% of the collagen in your body. It’s found in the dermis of your skin—type I is most commonly referred to when talking about the benefits of collagen for healthy hair.
- Type II is found in chicken and marine products. It shows promise in treating joint inflammation.
- Type III is also found naturally in your body, but there’s much less of it. Type III supplements come from bovine sources. Claims of its benefits include supporting the gut, muscles, blood vessels, and uterus. It’s combined with Type I in supplementation.
- Type V is found naturally in your eye. It also supports bones, muscles, the lungs, and the liver. It works with Type I and III.
- Type X is found naturally in joints.
Adding the right foods to your diet will encourage your body to produce the right type, but if you take supplements, you’ll want to pay attention to the specific type.
Note that some types are not found in supplements but can work with other types to produce the desired outcome.
Building Blocks of Collagen
A well-balanced diet full of proteins, fresh fruits, and vegetables is the best way to encourage your body to build collagen and promote healthy hair growth. By eating the right foods, your body can extrapolate the amino acids used to produce collagen.
Collagen occurs naturally in some foods. It’s found in the skins, bones, and muscles of meats. It can be obtained from boiling animal bones into a rich broth. Drinking broth has many health benefits.
Environmental factors play a role in collagen depletion, including pollution, smoking, poor diet, and too much sun.
Taking steps to mediate exposure to these outside sources while increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables will help counteract the signs of aging and encourage collagen production.
Essential Amino Acids
Collagen is made of three nonessential amino acids called proline, glycine, and hydroxyproline. These combine to form the collagen three-strand structure.
Collagen increases activity in cells called fibroblasts, which send signals to hair follicles. This may encourage hair growth.
A nutrient-rich diet can encourage your body to create collagen from these amino acids. Supplements are helpful for those with an inadequate diet.
Two more amino acids play a role in collagen production. Lysine and threonine can be obtained through diet or supplementation. Eat meats, poultry, fish, eggs, wheat germ, and beans.
Eating dark leafy vegetables, strawberries, oranges, bell peppers, and other foods high in vitamin C may encourage your body to produce its own collagen.
Vitamin C helps synthesize amino acids; without it, collagen molecules do not form.
Vitamin C can also be taken as a supplement, but try reaching for some kale or broccoli first. A small serving daily of one of these is all you need.
Iron, zinc, and copper are also essential for collagen production. Be careful if you take these as a supplement, as taking more than the recommended daily allowance can lead to mineral poisoning.
If you take supplements, you’ll want to keep a few guidelines in mind to ensure that your body absorbs the mineral properly.
- Iron should be taken with vitamin C. Milk products inhibit its absorption.
- Zinc should not be taken with milk for the same reason. The best sources of zinc are from real food such as organic meats, fish, poultry, or organic beans, legumes, lentils, and pulses.
- Copper should be taken with proteins.
Does Collagen Increase Hair Growth?
The jury is still out on the benefits of collagen on hair growth. Looking at the functions of collagen, one can surmise that collagen can affect healthy hair and skin.
More studies are needed to determine how effective they are, but worst case scenario, your hair will remain the same.
Benefits of Collagen For Healthy Hair
Healthy hair is influenced by many things, including products used, foods you eat, and environmental factors you are exposed to, but here are some facts to consider.
Provides Amino Acids That Can Be Used to Build Hair
In your body, collagen is broken down into amino acids, which then build proteins and compounds. One of these proteins is proline, a main keratin component.
Keratin is a protein that is the building block of your hair. While few studies confirm this fact, one can surmise that consuming collagen or using it on your hair may lead to healthier hair.
Helps Fight Damage to Hair Follicles
Stress, air pollution, smoking, poor diet choices, alcohol, and other environmental impacts produce free radicals in your body. While some are natural, too many can cause problems with your cells, including the ones in your hair follicles.
Your body uses antioxidants to fight free radicals, but your body may not produce enough, especially as you get older.
Collagen from marine sources fights four types of free radicals. However, more studies are needed to verify these claims, but those that use collagen swear that it helps with scalp and hair health.
May Prevent Hair Thinning Associated With Aging
As we age, our hair may start to thin due to the weakening of the dermis. This layer of skin contains the roots of your hair and is composed mainly of collagen.
A weakened dermis results in less strength and elasticity, so hair is not easily anchored in your scalp.
Collagen supplements have been used in studies and resulted in more protein in the skin and fewer signs of aging.
May Help Slow Graying
Free radicals can also affect the color of your hair. As we age or engage in activities that increase free radicals can also affect the cells that hold the color into your hair.
Collagen supplements may increase antioxidants that fight these free radicals and thus slow the graying of your hair.
Some people are born without the ability to produce type 17 collagen, resulting in fragile skin, hair loss, and graying hair.
Type 17 is not available in a supplement form, but other forms of collagen may encourage those without this genetic disorder to produce it in their body.
Other Health Benefits of Collagen
Collagen has many other benefits, including joint health, bone loss, muscle mass, and weight loss. Here are a few more:
Smooth, Supple Skin
Most collagen resides in your skin, making it elastic and hydrated. As we age, reduced collagen production leads to wrinkles and dry skin.
Collagen supplements may encourage the body to produce more collagen. Manufacturers also put collagen in creams.
The same collagen in your skin plays a part in nail strength through the amino acid arginine. Without proper collagen, your nails can become brittle and break more easily.
Improved Gut Health
Adopting a healthy diet is essential for gut health, but collagen may also play a role in your gut. Collagen can:
- Soothe, repair, and strengthen the gut lining—this could be due to the amino acids essential for gut repair.
- Aid in digestion and nutrient absorption—collagen strengthens the gut wall and prevents a leaky gut, preventing vital nutrients from escaping through the intestinal lining.
- Some foods prevent the synthesis of collagen in the body. Adding animal proteins, eggs, and dairy replenishes the amino acids required for collagen production. If you don’t eat those foods regularly, a collagen supplement could help with this process.
The Bottom Line On Collagen For Hair Growth
No amount of collagen will reverse the signs of aging without a balanced diet, sufficient intake of vitamins and minerals, and protection from harsh environmental factors. Collagen supplements do have benefits, but they are not miracle workers.
Not all collagen producers use the same practices. And not all collagen is made from the same materials. You’ll want to check labels carefully for the source if you are vegan.
Check out our selection of clean-sourced collagen supplements with five types of collagen, and find one that fits your needs. Combined with a healthy diet, your hair may soon shine.