Symptoms of Collagen Deficiency

Collagen is the most abundant protein in our body, it literally is everywhere from teeth, bones, skin, nails and joints. In fact, there are over 28 different kinds of collagen known to man. Yet, there are 5 types of collagen which are most common, and the main ones, so to speak. For that reason, collagen deficiency shows up in many different parts of the body.

We start off in life with a lot of collagen in our bodies, think of a baby's skin. As we approach our 30's, we naturally start to produce less new collagen. In addition, we may not live the healthiest lives, so we often destroy the collagen we do have.

Here are some of the most common symptoms of collagen deficiencies:

Wrinkles and skin sagging

Collagen is responsible for the skin structures that create volume and firmness in the skin. When the skin begins to look loose, saggy, and wrinkly, it can be a symptom of collagen deficiency.

Joint pain

When the body's tendons, ligaments, or cartilage do not have enough collagen, people can experience joint pain. Although more research is needed, early studies (1) show arthritis pain can be reduced through adding collagen supplements to our daily routine.

Digestive problems

When the lining of the small intestine becomes damaged, it results in a condition called intestinal permeability, or “leaky gut.”

Improper digestion can lead to the inability to process nutrients properly, can cause gas, bloating, fatigue, food cravings, and other digestive symptoms.

Slow wound healing and scarring

Because collagen is essential for healthy skin, collagen deficiency can cause slow wound healing or skin that is easily scarred.

When we experience a wound to our skin, collagen is what rushes to the site of injury to start the healing process. Therefore, the less collagen we have available, the slower the healing and greater chance of scarring.

Muscle pain and soreness

Collagen deficiency can also cause muscle pain and soreness, and prolong exercise recovery.

Collagen is a protein and our muscles rely on proteins for repair and recovery. With this in mind, the less collagen we have available, the longer it will take for muscles to recover.

Connective tissue disease

There is a wide range of diseases caused by problems with the body's connective tissues: collagen and elastin. These diseases used to be called “collagen diseases,” but are today categorized more broadly as connective tissue diseases.

Many connective tissue diseases are heritable, but some of the classic collagen diseases include:

Rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis
Loss of teeth
Collagen is also in our teeth and bones. (We need enough collagen in our teeth and jaw to cause them to stay in place, be stable and strong.)

Collagen and Pelvic Floor Prolapse and Urinary Incontinence

Connective tissue challenges may also be more likely in women who experience pelvic organ prolapse (POP) or urinary incontinence.

Although many factors may affect if a woman experiences prolapse, such as pregnancy, extra weight, menopause, aging, constipation and chronic coughing, weakness of collagen in that area is one angle researchers are interested in learning more about.

According to Cleveland Clinic, one-third of U.S. women have some sort of prolapse, with almost 25% experiencing symptoms. Furthermore, another 11% will require surgery.

A study at Temple University (2) pointed out not every woman who has risk factors develops pelvic prolapse. However, in a study, the researchers found women who POP had less collagen in their cervix/uterus.

Although more research is needed, it stands to reason if we can boost our collagen consumption, and avoid accelerating the loss of collagen, we may be able to help avoid severe POP.

What Causes Collagen Deficiency?

Many collagen deficiencies are simply the result of natural aging processes, genetic predisposition, or other medical conditions.

Some autoimmune disorders cause the body's immune system to target collagen, with a wide range of health effects. However, there are a number of behavior and lifestyle factors that can cause collagen deficiency.

Here are the most common ways collagen in our bodies can be reduced:

Excessive sugar consumption

A diet high in sugar promotes a process called glycation, where sugars in the blood attach to proteins and form new molecules instead of collagen. These compounds also damage nearby proteins.

Since collagen is made up of protein, glycation can make existing collagen weak and brittle.

Cigarette smoking

Smoking cigarettes exposes the skin to nicotine, which constricts the blood vessels in the outer layers of the skin, reducing the presence of oxygen and nutrients that keep skin healthy and nourishes collagen production.

In addition, cigarettes also contain many other chemical compounds that damage collagen and elastin in the skin, leading to skin damage and wrinkles.

UV rays

The sun's ultraviolet rays penetrate the outer layer of the skin and damage collagen and elastin. The damaged collagen fibers break down and the skin loses its elasticity. For this reason, when the underlying connective tissues are damaged, the skin doesn't heal correctly, causing wrinkles.

Lack of vitamin C
Vitamin C plays a critical role in the body's synthesis of collagen, and we can't make collagen without it.

You may have a protein-rich diet, but without the necessary fruits and vegetables, your body will still not be able to effectively make collagen.

What to do About Collagen Deficiency?

While we can't avoid aging, we can protect ourselves. To avoid collagen deficiencies, it's best to quit the smoking habit, protect our skin from too many UV rays and eat less sugar.

If you want to help your body produce collagen, the best thing to do is eat a healthy diet. Collagen is unusual in that when you eat it, your body breaks down the components and uses them to make your own collagen.

Eating a diet rich in high-quality proteins like beef, turkey, and tuna, along with antioxidant-rich vegetables that are high in vitamin C like broccoli, red peppers, and leafy greens will give your body the essential building blocks for new collagen.

If you suspect a collagen deficiency, it's a good idea to focus specifically on foods that contain high levels of the amino acids and vitamin C necessary for collagen production.

Gelatin and bone broth are both high in collagen, but you will also need vitamin C rich foods to complete the synthesis. Foods like beef liver, oysters, and spirulina have all the components of collagen in a single food, and can help you boost collagen production quickly.

Another way to treat collagen deficiency is to use a collagen supplement, Hydrolyzed collagen (also called collagen hydrolysate or collagen peptides) has been processed to break the collagen down into smaller peptides that are rapidly absorbed and used by the body.

Supplements are an easy, convenient choice for most of us who don't get the necessary amino acids and vitamin C on a daily basis.

Over time, collagen deficiency can not only damage your skin and cause premature aging, but can also lead to a host of other, more serious and painful conditions.

Fortunately, the building blocks for collagen are widely available, and we have many options for making sure that our connective tissues are as strong and healthy as possible, to avoid collagen deficiency.


Collagen is the most abundance protein in our bodies. It is literally the 'scaffolding' that holds us together and gives structure to arteries, bones and skin.

Over time, the natural aging process means our bodies produce less and less collagen. In addition, we often live our lives without realizing we are damaging the collagen we do have.

Fortunately, we have the ability to add the nutrients necessary to build new collagen and avoid activities that damage the existing collagen in our bodies. If we eat healthy and take collagen supplements through capsules, powder or bone broth, it will go a long way in keeping the aging process at arm's length.

Author's Bio: 

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Hi, I'm Denise a mid-50's woman who is passionate about staying physically and emotionally healthy.

Always on the cutting edge of health and wellness for women over 50, my goal is to bring the best collagen supplement reviews and advice directly to my visitors' screen.

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