What is Collagen and What Does it Do?

what is collagen and what does it do
Content you'll find


What is collagen?

But what does collagen do?

What makes collagen unique?

What are the benefits of collagen supplementation?



There are hundreds of excellent studies that show how the use of dietary supplements can support our health, well-being, and overall recovery from strenuous exercise; and many of us have used supplements like whey, probiotics, omega-three fish oil, and vitamin C as part of our daily lives as a result.

But what about collagen supplements? For many, collagen is a brand new supplement they have never come across before. In this article, we'd like to share some of the science behind collagen with you to show you how this exciting supplement has the potential to improve your health and performance.

What is collagen?

Collagen is a vitally important protein found in skin and other connective tissues, such as ligaments and tendons. In fact, collagen contributes about 65-80% to the dry weight of tendons. Or, put another way, if you dehydrated a tendon, most of what remained would be collagen1.

Overall, there are at least 28 different types of collagen in the body, and they combine to help you live, move and be healthy2. However, the importance of collagen goes way beyond our day-to-day musculoskeletal health. Collagen is vital for our healing, and healthy ageing too. This is because as we get older, we lose collagen. This loss starts as we reach adulthood, and after 40 years of age, we can lose about 1% of collagen per year2.  


But what does collagen do?

The structural properties of collagen are vital to the health and strength of our joints, tendons, and ligaments3. Collagen also has unique properties that help us successfully offset mechanical forces when running, training and playing sport4

An excellent way to understand the role of collagen in the body is to compare it to the clever engineering in skyscrapers. The tallest building in the world is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, at just over half a mile tall, or 829.8m. For a building like this to withstand environmental forces, it needs to have an incredibly strong structure that can also be adaptable and absorb loads successfully. This is the same for collagen, which works to stabilise and absorb impact within the body when we move.

Collagen also helps us with many aspects of recovery and regeneration, including wound healing, increasing bone density, helping with skin health, tissue regeneration, eye health, scalp repair and cell messaging. Perhaps most importantly, collagen is central to cell survival and differentiation. In other words, we need collagen for our health and longevity, not just our fitness5,6,7,8.

 collagen shot

What makes collagen unique?

While most people understand the value of supplementation with whey due to its high essential amino acid content, some have dismissed collagen because it is an incomplete protein, lacking an essential amino acid called tryptophan9.

However, if we take this perspective and lump collagen alongside all other protein sources, could we be missing something? The answer is yes!

Collagen is unique for several reasons.

For example, collagen digestion differs slightly from how we absorb individual amino acids from other foods. In the typical digestion of protein from foods like chicken, proteins (polypeptides) are broken down (hydrolysed) in various stages. Ultimately, in the brush border of the intestine, individual amino acids then circulate in the bloodstream.

With collagen, digestion and absorption are a bit different10. When we absorb collagen, instead of individual amino acids circulating, collagen travels around the body in peptides, and these collagen peptides are then used actively by the body11.  

In fact, research has found that collagen peptides, such as proline-hydroxyproline (Pro-Hyp) and proline-hydroxyproline-glycine (Pro-Hyp-Gly), are present in our bloodstream up to four hours after ingestion11. Simply put, with collagen peptides, these amino acids work as a team rather than on their own.

Additionally, the role of collagen goes beyond musculoskeletal health and cellular renewal. It is not simply a form of scaffolding, if you will, for structures in the body. Collagen peptides also act as signalling molecules, which means they communicate with other systems in the body that are important for our health.  

For example, there is emerging research that collagen can help to reduce inflammation via its direct effect on the gut microbiota. A recent animal study showed that collagen helped increase the amount of commensal (positive bacteria) in the gut12. Microbial balance in the digestive tract is critical for managing inflammation in the gut or on a broader and systemic level13. As studies progress, it would be fantastic to learn that collagen peptides could act as a signal for anti-inflammatory activity across systems in the body14.  

In short, when compared to traditional forms of protein, collagen is unique in its composition, absorption and signalling in the body. 

The big question is, does this unique biological activity make collagen worthy of attention in our day-to-day life? Absolutely!

The research supporting the use of collagen supplementation is substantial and growing all the time. Whilst there are still questions regarding timing, dosages and individualisation, the literature is very optimistic about collagen as we look to the future.


What are the benefits of collagen supplementation? 

At first glance, you might wonder why supplementing with collagen shots could be beneficial. After all, collagen is known to make up about one-third of the total protein in humans and is one of the most abundant structural proteins in the body. However, there are plenty of ways taking collagen supplements can support your health. In this section, we’ll look at the potential benefits of collagen supplements for athletes through the lens of pain reduction, recovery from exercise and muscle strength.

 1. Can collagen help to reduce pain? 

To begin, what is the evidence base for using collagen to reduce pain? The best place to start is with meta-analyses and systematic reviews because they sit at the top of the evidence-based medicine hierarchy.

For example, a 2021 systematic review assessed five trials investigating the effect of collagen supplementation on pain, with positive results. It concluded that collagen could reduce joint pain, improve joint function, and improve pain thresholds with exercise15

This review supported the findings of a previous 2016 systematic review addressing collagen in osteoporosis and osteoarthritis, which can be debilitating for many people. It concluded that collagen supplementation could positively affect people through improvements in bone mineral density, a protective effect on articular cartilage, and pain relief16.

According to the 2016 review, supplementing with 8g per day of collagen increased circulating glycine and proline levels, and 12g per day resulted in significant improvements in osteoarthritis and osteoporosis symptoms. 

At Kinetica Sports, our Collagen Shots with Turmeric contain 20g of collagen, plus other nutrients that can help in its effect. Turmeric for example, is a natural anti-inflammatory (due to its high concentration of curcumin27), which can support the reduction of pain. 


Shop now - Collagen Shots with Turmeric


Interestingly, all of this is not new information.The potential for collagen to be helpful in pain reduction has been known in the research literature for some time. For example, a randomised controlled trial in 2008 used 10g per day of collagen over 24 weeks, and results showed statistically significant improvements in joint pain at rest, when walking, standing, carrying objects and lifting29.  

Of course, science is ever-evolving, and collagen-based studies are consistently adding to this weight of evidence. A 2021 double-blind, randomised, controlled trial involving 180 participants looked to treat knee pain with 5g of collagen peptides versus placebo for 12 weeks17. With an average age of 24, participants were directed to take part in a variety of activities, from running, to cycling, to team sports. Upon conclusion of the study, results found a significant reduction in "pain during activity" after treatment with collagen peptides compared with a placebo. This improvement was reported by study participants as well as a physician who screened them.

Finally, a pilot study from the Australian Institute of Sport wanted to understand if collagen supplementation could help resolve Achilles tendinopathy as part of an exercise rehabilitation programme18. Earlier research suggested collagen supplementation could help with ankle instability, so this study looked to put it to the test in a crossover trial and see how it might help as part of a more comprehensive exercise rehabilitation programme30

Results found that clinical outcomes improved under supplementation versus placebo, which was encouraging, especially when considering that participants in the study had been previously unresponsive to long-term physiotherapy.

The study might have performed better if participants rehabilitating their Achilles had a higher dose of collagen than 5g per day. A recent paper found that 2.5-15g per day of collagen are below the maximum level of collagen we can use in our diet9. Athletes recovering from chronic injury might benefit from higher dosages, such as that found in our collagen shots here at Kinetica.

2. How can taking collagen support recovery from exercise?  

What about the speed with which we recover from a hard workout? Could collagen help us bounce back quicker from a tough session? Early research suggests so.  

A 2019 randomised controlled trial investigated the effect of 20g per day of collagen peptide on muscle damage, inflammation and bone turnover in recreationally active adults19. Results showed that collagen supplementation improved muscle soreness following exercise and countermovement squat jump height 48 hours post-session.

This insight can be helpful. One of the limiting factors for progressing fitness is recovery. Delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS) is a normal byproduct of stressing the neuromuscular system after exercise. If we can use collagen supplements to improve regenerative activity in the body, this could have a big impact on how we train and exercise - and make collagen supplements for athletes especially important.

Further studies support the impact of collagen on recovery, like a 2021 trial that looked explicitly at using collagen supplements to aid recovery after eccentric-focused exercise20. The term "eccentric" describes the contraction of the muscle as it lengthens. In this case, the authors used five sets of 20 drop jumps, which is a lot of work for the body.  

There is a rapid eccentric lengthening of muscle groups upon landing with drop jumps, such as the calves and glutes. This rapid eccentric lengthening typically creates a lot of muscle soreness post-workout due to the unique load placed on tissues. Compared to placebo, results showed that 15g per day of additional collagen helped prevent declines in countermovement jump performance testing after the session.

An interesting 2017 study looked at supplementation after exercise on ligament synthesis in adults doing six minutes of skip rope. Results showed that 15g of collagen was enough to increase collagen content in engineered ligaments31.  

The authors of this study concluded that "the current data strongly support[s] the hypothesis that starting an exercise bout 1 hour after consuming 15g of gelatin results in greater collagen synthesis in the recovery period after exercise."

Thus, if the goal is to strengthen collagen, taking one of our collagen shots before you workout could be beneficial.

3. How can collagen supplementation benefit body composition & muscle strength? 

Finally, let's look at collagen's potential benefits for getting leaner and improving muscle strength. Improving body composition by reducing body fat and increasing overall muscle mass are common goals for many in the gym. But, what can the research tell us here? It's good news.

In multiple studies, collagen supplementation has been shown to help increase fat-free mass compared to a placebo when combined with resistance training. This benefit of collagen is evident across different populations - including young men, premenopausal women and older men with sarcopenia21,7,22.

Of course, when it comes to sports nutrition, it’s well worth talking about the effects of collagen on athletes and keen exercisers in a little more detail. A 2019 study recruited 57 men (average age of 24) who regularly train and gave 29 of them 15g of collagen daily, and the other 28 exercisers a placebo. These two groups then followed a resistance training programme for 12 weeks, and the study looked to control for nutritional factors by using a food diary.

At the end of the three months, those on collagen saw a statistically significant improvement in fat-free mass (p<0.01). This result indicates that the likelihood of this happening by chance was very low. A potential drawback of this study was that body composition was measured via bioimpedance rather than the gold standard of DEXA.

However, another study in 2021 used DEXA (a bone density scan) as part of a trial setup to ensure accurate data capture23. This randomised controlled trial had 97 participants (whose average age was in the late 40s) who trained three times per week over 12 weeks under the supervision of a trainer.

What were the results? Those taking collagen peptide supplementation saw a significant improvement in fat-free mass, going from an average of 60.4kg to 63.8kg at week 12. That is a solid anabolic response, especially for this middle-aged group. In summary, participants taking collagen got leaner, reduced their waist size, added muscle, and saw bone mineral content go up.


In 2018, the International Olympic Committee issued a consensus statement on dietary supplements for the high-performance athlete24. Looking at broad recommendations, it concluded that collagen at 5-15g per day with 50mg of vitamin C could potentially help with training capacity, recovery, muscle soreness, and injury management by increasing collagen production, thickening cartilage and decreasing joint pain.

With Kinetica Sports Collagen shots, you have a premium product. Each serving provides 20g of collagen, but on top of that, there are synergistic nutrients to help you. There is 150mg of glucosamine sulphate, 100mg of chondroitin sulphate, 250mg of turmeric extract, 4mg of black pepper extract, 50mg of vitamin C, and also 500 μg of copper.  

Importantly, it is this combination of nutrients that makes Kinetica’s collagen product special. For example, vitamin C is known to help boost the effect of collagen peptides on healing25. Black pepper can help increase the bioavailability of curcumin found in turmeric, and turmeric has consistent anti-inflammatory outcomes26,27. A new meta-analysis also shows the combination of glucosamine sulphate and chondroitin sulphate is more effective in treating osteoarthritis28.

In short, Kinetica Collagen provides you with an excellent all-around level of nutritional support to help you in your training and day-to-day life. It's also a great compliment to the other supplements offered by Kinetica, like Omega-3, Zinc Mag+, and more. Enjoy!

You know why. Let Kinetica be your how.

At Kinetica Sports, we understand that everyone has their own fitness targets, which is why we’ve created exceptional supplements to support you on your journey. Whether you’re a weekend warrior or a gym enthusiast, we want to help you test your limits and achieve your goals.

By choosing Kinetica Sports supplements, you can trust that you’re getting a top-quality, safe supplement. All of our products are tested via Informed Sport, and held to the rigorous standards of the WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) so you can train clean and smart.



1. Kannus, P., 2000, “Structure of the tendon connective tissue", in Scand J Med Sci Sports, 10(6):312-320. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11085557/

2. Leon-Lopez, A., et al., 2019, "Hydrolyzed Collagen-Sources and Applications", in Molecules, 24(22). Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6891674/

3. Gelse, K., Poschl, E., and Aigner, T., 2003, "Collagens--structure, function, and biosynthesis”, in Adv Drug Deliv Rev, 55(12):1531-1546. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0169409X03001820

4. Goes, R. A., et al., 2020, "Musculoskeletal injuries in athletes from five modalities: a cross-sectional study", in BMC Musculoskelet Disord, 21(1):122. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32093651/

5. Sugihara, F., Inoue, N., and Venkateswarathirukumara, S., 2018, "Ingestion of bioactive collagen hydrolysates enhanced pressure ulcer healing in a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical study", in Sci Rep 8(1):11403. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30061579/

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8. Gupta, S., et al., 2022, "Decorin regulates collagen fibrillogenesis during corneal wound healing in mouse in vivo", in Exp Eye Res:108933. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0014483522000148?via%3Dihub

9. Paul, C., Leser, S., and Oesser, S., 2019, "Significant Amounts of Functional Collagen Peptides Can Be Incorporated in the Diet While Maintaining Indispensable Amino Acid Balance", in Nutrients, 11(5). Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31096622/

10. Kleinnijenhuis, A. J., et al., 2020, "Non-targeted and targeted analysis of collagen hydrolysates during the course of digestion and absorption", in Anal Bioanal Chem, 412(4):973-982. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7005076/

11. Iwai, K., et al., 2005, "Identification of food-derived collagen peptides in human blood after oral ingestion of gelatin hydrolysates", in J Agric Food Chem, 53(16):6531-6536. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16076145/

12. Axarlis, K., et al., 2021, "Diet Supplementation with Fish-Derived Extracts Suppresses Diabetes and Modulates Intestinal Microbiome in a Murine Model of Diet-Induced Obesity", in Mar Drugs, 19(5). Available from: https://www.mdpi.com/1660-3397/19/5/268

13. Guido, G., et al., 2021, "Gut permeability and osteoarthritis, towards a mechanistic understanding of the pathogenesis: a systematic review", in Ann Med, 53(1):2380-2390. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34933614/

14. Lima, C. A., et al., 2015, "Antimicrobial and radical scavenging properties of bovine collagen hydrolysates produced by Penicillium aurantiogriseum URM 4622 collagenase", J Food Sci Technol, 52(7):4459-4466. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26139912/

15. Khatri, M., et al., 2021, "The effects of collagen peptide supplementation on body composition, collagen synthesis, and recovery from joint injury and exercise: a systematic review", in Amino Acids, 53(10):1493-1506. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34491424/

16. Porfírio, E. and Fanaro, G.B., 2016, "Collagen supplementation as a complementary therapy for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis: a systematic review", in Revista Brasileira de Geriatria e Gerontologia, 19(1):153-164. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/299075110

17. Zdzieblik, D., et al., 2021, "The Influence of Specific Bioactive Collagen Peptides on Knee Joint Discomfort in Young Physically Active Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial", in Nutrients, 13(2). Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33562729/

18. Praet, S. F. E., et al., 2019, "Oral Supplementation of Specific Collagen Peptides Combined with Calf-Strengthening Exercises Enhances Function and Reduces Pain in Achilles Tendinopathy Patients", in Nutrients, 11(1). Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30609761/

19. Clifford, T., et al., 2019, "The effects of collagen peptides on muscle damage, inflammation and bone turnover following exercise: a randomized, controlled trial", in Amino Acids, 51(4):691-704. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30783776/

20. Prowting, J. L., et al., 2021, "Effects of Collagen Peptides on Recovery Following Eccentric Exercise in Resistance-Trained Males-A Pilot Study", in Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab, 31(1):32-39. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33186897/

21. Zdzieblik, D., et al., 2015, "Collagen peptide supplementation in combination with resistance training improves body composition and increases muscle strength in elderly sarcopenic men: a randomised controlled trial", in Br J Nutr, 114(8):1237-1245. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4594048/

22. Kirmse, M., et al., 2019, "Prolonged Collagen Peptide Supplementation and Resistance Exercise Training Affects Body Composition in Recreationally Active Men", in Nutrients, 11(5). Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31126103/

23. Zdzieblik, D., et al., 2021, "The Influence of Specific Bioactive Collagen Peptides on Body Composition and Muscle Strength in Middle-Aged, Untrained Men: A Randomized Controlled Trial", in Int J Environ Res Public Health, 18(9). Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33946565/

24. Maughan, R. J., 2018, "IOC Medical and Scientific Commission reviews its position on the use of dietary supplements by elite athletes", Br J Sports Med, 52(7):418-419. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29540368/

25. DePhillipo, N. N., et al., 2018, "Efficacy of Vitamin C Supplementation on Collagen Synthesis and Oxidative Stress After Musculoskeletal Injuries: A Systematic Review", in Orthop J Sports Med, 6(10):2325967118804544. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30386805/

26. Roshdy, W. H., et al., 2020, "EGYVIR: An immunomodulatory herbal extract with potent antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2", PLoS One, 15(11):e0241739. Available from: https://europepmc.org/article/pmc/7673558

27. Ferguson, J. J. A., Abbott, K.A., and Garg, M.L., 2021, "Anti-inflammatory effects of oral supplementation with curcumin: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials", Nutr Rev, 79(9):1043-1066. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34378053/

28. Meng, Z., Liu, J., and Zhou, N., 2023, "Efficacy and safety of the combination of glucosamine and chondroitin for knee osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis", in Arch Orthop Trauma Surg, 143(1):409-421. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35024906/

29. Clark, K. L., et al., 2008, "24-Week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain", in Curr Med Res Opin, 24(5):1485-1496. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18416885/

30. Dressler, P., et al, 2018, "Improvement of Functional Ankle Properties Following Supplementation with Specific Collagen Peptides in Athletes with Chronic Ankle Instability", in J Sports Sci Med, 17(2):298-304. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29769831/

31. Shaw, G., et al., 2017, "Vitamin C-enriched gelatin supplementation before intermittent activity augments collagen synthesis", in Am J Clin Nutr 105(1):136-143. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27852613/

Justin Buckthorp

Written by
Justin Buckthorp

Justin Buckthorp has over 22 years of experience in health and wellness. He has a Master of Science Degree (MSc) with Distinction in Personalised Nutrition, where he specialized in the gut-brain axis in depression.

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