Collagen is the most abundant protein found throughout the human 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 collagen as the “glue” that holds us together. One awesome food source of collagen is the benefit-rich egg.
Why is collagen important? As we age, our collagen production naturally begins to slow down. (1) 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.
Egg protein has just the right mix of essential amino acids needed by humans to build tissues. It’s second only to mother’s milk for human nutrition. (2) Many healthy foods promote collagen production, but there are few actual collagen sources in food, but I have good news — eggs have collagen! Research has shown collagen is found in both the 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 egg shell 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. (3) Collagen is also found in the yolk of hen (chicken) eggs. (4)
There are many different types of collagen found throughout the body. Type I collagen is a very strong type of collagen and is the most abundant in the body. Type I is found in scar tissue, skin, tendons, artery walls and bones. (5) It’s also synthesized in response to injury. Over 90 percent of the collagen in the body is type I. The other 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. (6)
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.
Egg Collagen Nutrition Background
The nutritional value of egg collagen supplements will vary, but pretty much any high quality collagen supplement will be 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. If you choose to up your collagen levels from an egg itself then it’s nice to know that one large, hard-boiled, 50-gram cooked egg is highly nutritious and contains about: (7)
- 78 calories
- 0.6 gram carbohydrates
- 6.3 grams protein
- 5.3 grams fat
- 186 milligrams cholesterol (62 percent DV)
- 15.4 micrograms selenium (22 percent DV)
- 0.3 milligram riboflavin (15 percent DV)
- 44 IU vitamin D (11 percent DV)
- 0.6 microgram vitamin B12 (9 percent DV)
- 86 milligrams phosphorus (9 percent DV)
- 293 IU vitamin A (6 percent DV)
- 22 micrograms folate (5 percent DV)
5 Egg Collagen Health Benefits
1. Joint and Connective Tissue Disorders
Egg shell 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. (8) Collagen actually provides the slender fibers of the interlaced strands that make up tendons and ligaments.
One study looked at Natural Eggshell Membrane (NEM®), an egg collagen dietary supplement. Two human clinical studies were conducted to determine the effectiveness and safety of NEM® as a treatment for pain and inflexibility associated with joint and connective tissue disorders. They found that 500 milligrams of NEM® taking once daily significantly reduced pain, both rapidly (seven days) as well as continuously (30 days). (9)
2. Improve Skin Quality & Decrease Wrinkles
Collagen is absolutely essential to healthy, younger looking skin. A 2015 study investigated the potential for egg shells membranes to be used for cosmetic use. Specifically, they looked at the ability of egg shell membrane hydrolysates to protect the skin from wrinkles, sun exposure, and moisture loss. To determine whether or not egg shell membranes can be utilized as functional cosmetic materials, researchers examined the level of hyaluronic acid and collagen production in animal subjects.
Results proved egg shell membranes to have outstanding effects in the suppression of skin aging, which included their ability to mitigate UV-B radiation-induced wrinkles. Overall, the research points towards egg shell membranes definitely being an excellent choice for natural beauty products. (7)
3. Increase 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 (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. (8)
4. Decrease Pain & 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. (9)
5. Improve Digestion
Proline and glycine are two amino acids found in egg collagen that play a major role in ensuring your body’s running smoothly. These two amino acids actually help to rebuild tissue that lines the digestive tract. By rebuilding this crucial tissue, glycine and proline help to 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. (10) Thanks to glycine and proline, egg collagen can help protect the gut and in turn, the whole body, from inflammation.
Interesting Egg Collagen Facts
- Eggs have two membranes, both of which contain collagen.
- Egg yolks have also scientifically been shown to contain collagen.
- Eggs contain two types of collagen: type I and type V.
- 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.
- 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!
How to Use Egg Collagen + Recipes
Egg collagen can be obtained most easily and in high amounts from an egg collagen supplement. Most supplements will be in powder form and likely will be a mix of egg collagen along with some other collagen sources. 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 like this Gut Healing Smoothie
- Add to baking dishes, muffins, bars or pancakes to increase protein intake
- Replace unhealthy protein powders and use this 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 will make 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 then try one of these tasty recipes:
I also have 28 more delicious egg recipes if the ones above aren’t making you hungry!
Potential Side Effects of Egg Collagen
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, then 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.