Collagen — including chicken, bovine, fish and egg collagen — is the most abundant protein found throughout the human body and one of the most vital proteins in the body. It’s what gives our skin its strength and elasticity.
In addition to our skin, collagen is most commonly found in our bones, muscles and tendons. You can think of it as the “glue” that holds us together.
Why is collagen important? As we age, our collagen production naturally begins to slow down.
Thanks to decreases in collagen, we get sagging skin, wrinkles and weaker cartilage in our joints. Other things that decrease collagen production include a high-sugar diet, excessive alcohol intake, sun exposure and smoking.
Many healthy foods promote collagen production, but there are few actual collagen sources in food. Thankfully I have good news — eggs have collagen!
Research shows collagen is found in both the shell membranes and yolk of chicken eggs. Indeed, the health benefits of egg collagen are impressive, and I’m excited to tell you all about them.
What Is Egg Collagen?
When it comes to major sources of collagen, eggs definitely make the list. Eggs have inner and out membranes, which are between the eggshell and egg white.
These two transparent protein membranes provide efficient defense against bacterial invasion of the egg. Studies have shown that collagen is found in the eggshell membranes of hens.
Specifically, materials similar to type I and type V collagens were detected in the two layers of the membrane, the thick outer membrane and the thin inner membrane. Collagen is also found in the yolk of hen (chicken) eggs.
There are many different types of collagen found throughout the body. Type I collagen is a very strong type of collagen and the most abundant in the body. Type I is found in scar tissue, skin, tendons, artery walls and bones.
It’s also synthesized in response to injury. Over 90 percent of the collagen in the body is type I.
Another kind of collagen found in eggs, type V, is also key to the human body. It’s found in the hair, cell surfaces and placenta.
That’s not all. Recent research published in the Journal of Proteomic revealed that eggshell membranes contain even more types of collagen than originally thought. Through proteomic analysis, researchers found that collagen types III, IV, VII, VIII, XII and XXII were also present in eggshell membranes.
Since cooking an egg denatures the membranes, an egg collagen supplement is the best and easiest way to obtain the collagen that naturally occurs in eggs.
The nutritional value of egg collagen supplements varies, but pretty much any high-quality collagen supplement is rich in amino acids and protein.
Collagen itself is a protein made up of amino acids, including glycine, proline, glutamine, hydroxyproline and arginine. These are amino acids that are produced by your body under normal circumstances.
However, when you’re sick, stressed or otherwise unhealthy, your body may not be able to produce enough of these amino acids on its own. It needs help from outside sources like your diet and supplements (like egg collagen) to get enough.
Eggs naturally contain collagen and also contain collagen-promoting nutrients like B vitamins, vitamin E, amino acids and sulfur.
1. Helps Joint and Connective Tissue Disorders
Eggshell membranes are rich in nutrients similar to types I and V collagen, glucosamine sulfate, chondroitin sulfate, hyaluronic acid, glycosaminoglycans and amino acids. These are all greatly beneficial to joint and connective tissue health.
The high collagen content of the egg’s membranes make it especially helpful in the treatment of connective tissue diseases. Collagen actually provides the slender fibers of the interlaced strands that make up tendons and ligaments.
One study looked at an egg collagen dietary supplement. Two human clinical studies were conducted to determine the effectiveness and safety of the supplement as a treatment for pain and inflexibility associated with joint and connective tissue disorders. They found that 500 milligrams taken once daily significantly reduced pain, both rapidly (seven days) as well as continuously (30 days).
In addition, the research published in the Journal of Proteomic referenced above concluded that the collagen proteins in eggs and eggshells “reduce the risk of food-borne disease and promote food safety of the highly nutritious chicken egg. Moreover, these results highlight the structural nature of the ESM constituents and identify functionalities (e.g. antimicrobial) that are relevant to various biomedical applications, such as wound healing.”
2. Improves Skin Quality and Decrease Wrinkles
Collagen is absolutely essential to healthy, younger-looking skin. A 2015 study investigated the potential for eggshell membranes to be used for cosmetic use.
Specifically, researchers looked at the ability of eggshell membrane hydrolysates to protect the skin from wrinkles, sun exposure and moisture loss. To determine whether or not eggshell membranes can be utilized as functional cosmetic materials, researchers examined the level of hyaluronic acid and collagen production in animal subjects.
Results proved eggshell membranes have outstanding effects in the suppression of skin aging, which included their ability to mitigate UV-B radiation-induced wrinkles. Overall, the research points toward eggshell membranes definitely being an excellent choice for natural beauty products.
3. Increases Range of Motion
Research published in the Journal of Medicinal Food in 2015 looked at the effects of consumption of hydrolyzed water-soluble egg membrane collagen (WSEM) on joint function in an otherwise healthy population experiencing chronic pain. The study was randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled.
Subjects took the egg membrane preparation for four weeks and took the placebo for four weeks, with the two time spans separated by a four-week break period.
When subjects were evaluated after egg membrane was taken, there were significant improvements in both cervical lateral and knee range of motion compared to the same people consuming placebo. Highly significant improvements in range of motion were also seen in the neck and dominant shoulder.
4. Decreases Pain and Stiffness
The most prevalent form of arthritis is osteoarthritis. It currently affects millions of individuals worldwide.
Osteoarthritis occurs when the protective cartilage on the ends of your bones wears down over time, and it most commonly affects joints in the hands, knees, hips and spine.
Eggshell membrane supplements containing egg collagen have been shown to reduce arthritic pain and stiffness of joints resulting from osteoarthritis of the knee. One double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study published in Clinical Rheumatology gave an egg membrane supplement to subjects at a dose of 500 milligrams per day.
Results showed that it was an effective and safe option for the treatment of pain and stiffness associated with knee osteoarthritis — and that egg collagen should be part of an arthritis diet. Joint pain and stiffness were significantly reduced compared to placebo at 10, 30 and 60 days.
Eggshell membrane collagen might be beneficial even for pain caused by normal exercise rather than a medical problem. In healthy, postmenopausal women, an egg collagen supplement improved exercise recovery joint pain, stiffness and discomfort in as little as four days.
5. Improves Digestion
Proline and glycine are two amino acids found in egg collagen that play a major role in ensuring your body runs smoothly. These two amino acids actually help rebuild tissue that lines the digestive tract.
By rebuilding this crucial tissue, glycine and proline help keep food particles and bacteria inside the gut where they belong, rather than allowing tiny openings to form that pass particles to the bloodstream where they trigger inflammation.
Glycine has been shown to protect against intestinal injury from colitis, an inflammatory reaction in the colon. Thanks to glycine and proline, egg collagen can help protect the gut and, in turn, the whole body from inflammation.
Uses and Recipes
Egg collagen can be obtained most easily and in high amounts from an egg collagen supplement. Most supplements are in powder form and likely a mix of egg collagen along with some other collagen sources, such as bovine collagen, chicken collagen and fish collagen.
Collagen supplements are also available in capsule or liquid form.
The problem with trying to get collagen from cooked eggs is that heat alters the chemistry of the membranes. Since it’s not generally safe to consume raw eggs, that’s where an egg collagen supplement comes in. You can quickly and safely get an ample dose of collagen.
It’s super easy to start incorporating egg collagen powder into your life. You can:
- Include 2 tablespoons in your morning smoothie
- Add to baking dishes, muffins, bars or pancakes to increase protein intake
- Replace unhealthy protein powders and use collagen protein instead
- Create a chia seed collagen pudding
- Take several tablespoons of collagen pre- and post-workout for tissue repair and performance
Even though cooking eggs makes them lose some of their inherent collage, they are still always collagen-promoting. When looking for fresh eggs, opt for ones from free-range hens (allowed to roam, wander, perch and have a good quality of life) rather than cage-raised hens (unable to move or engage in normal activity).
If you’re looking to incorporate more fresh eggs in your diet, try one of these tasty recipes:
I also have 28 more delicious egg recipes, including Paleo-friendly recipes.
Other Ways to Get Collagen
There are many collagen types out there, including type I, type II, type III, type V and type X. the vast majority of the collagen — between 80 percent and 90 percent — consists of types I, II and III. You can get more collagen in your life by:
- Making or drinking real antioxidant bone broth.
- Using protein powder made from bone broth in recipes. You can consume bone broth on its own or use it in all sorts of sweet and savory recipes depending on the type of product.
- Taking collagen supplements. A collagen supplement can be found typically as hydrolyzed collagen, which helps form new collagen. When you hydrolyze collagen, collagen peptides become bioavailable.
- Eating a well-rounded diet that helps increase absorption of the collagen peptide you consume.
- Consume gelatin. May people don’t realize the gelatin secret ingredient is collagen.
Risks and Sid Effects
Of course, do not consume egg collagen in any form if you have an egg allergy. Signs of an allergy to eggs/egg collagen include:
- Skin inflammation or hives (most common)
- Digestive complaints, such as cramps, nausea or vomiting
- Nasal congestion, runny nose and sneezing
- Wheezing, coughing, chest tightness or shortness of breath
If you have signs of a food allergy shortly after eating egg collagen or another egg-containing product, it’s a good idea to see your doctor. The severity of egg allergy reactions can vary each time one occurs, so even if a past reaction was mild, the next one could be more serious.
If possible, see the doctor when the allergic reaction is occurring since this can help in making a diagnosis.
Always seek medical attention immediately for any serious allergic reactions.
- Eggs have two membranes, both of which contain collagen.
- Egg yolks have also scientifically been shown to contain collagen.
- Eggs contain several types of collagen, including type I, III, IV, V, VII, VIII, XII and XXII.
- Eggs and their collagen take about 24 to 26 hours to form inside a hen.
- As a hen grows older she produces larger eggs, which means greater amounts of collagen per egg.
- It’s a common natural beauty treatment to use egg as a face mask to promote collagen levels in the skin.
- Egg collagen benefits include helping deal with joint and connective tissue disorders, improving skin quality and decreasing wrinkles, increasing range of motion, decreasing pain and stiffness, and improving digestion.
- Eggs age more in one day at room temperature than in one week in the refrigerator. Egg collagen supplements don’t typically have to be refrigerated (just store away from heat and moisture), but always refrigerate your eggs.