Collagen supplements and snacks promise a variety of benefits, including firmer skin, softer skin, and improved skin elasticity.
Celebrities Jennifer Aniston, Khloe Kardashian, and Khloe Wade have helped to make collagen a popular wellness ingredient.
Although collagen supplements have been around for a long time, it has only recently become a common ingredient in food and beverages. These creamers can be added to tea or coffee (both Kardashian and Aniston’s ranges do), and you can also buy smoothies and snack bars at the grocery store.
A booming industry
It’s not surprising that the global collagen supplement market has exploded. Industry reports estimate it to be worth more than US$1.8billion in 2019 and are projected to grow at 6.9% annually by 2027.
Is it that easy to look younger and feel more supple if you just take a pill or eat collagen-enriched food?
Collagen supplements are available as a standalone supplement or can be mixed with drinks, sprinkled on food, or made into meal-replacement smoothies.
What is collagen?
Collagen is a protein that is made in the body. It is the main structural component for connective tissue, including skin, bone, and cartilage. Collagen acts in a similar way to glue and helps maintain your body’s strength, integrity, shape, and strength.
The collagen is constantly being broken down and renewed. However, as we age, our collagen production slows and connective tissues lose elasticity, making them more fragile. These signs are visible as wrinkles, fine lines, and thin hair. You may also experience a decrease in collagen levels, which can limit your flexibility and range of motion.
These reminders of a slowly deteriorating body are not something that many people enjoy. This is why it’s so appealing to take a few collagen pills, or eat some collagen-enriched foods, to slow down, stop, or reverse this process.
Using collagen isn’t new
Nicole Dynan, a registered dietitian and media spokesperson of Dietitians Australia, says that collagen isn’t new. It has been used in creams for many years.
“But, as we become more aware of our health, this has increased the popularity of beauty and anti-aging supplements such as ingestible collab.”
What are collagen supplements?
There are many options for collagen supplements. You can choose from pills, gummies, or liquids. They can be mixed with drinks or sprinkled on food or made into meal replacement shakes.
Supplements and food products that contain collagen are mostly made from collagen peptides, which are short strings of amino acids.
The theory is that collagen supplements can increase your body’s collagen reserves, which in turn will improve your skin and joints.
Does collagen supplementation work?
Although collagen has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries, evidence-based research on its benefits is lacking.
Ligaments and tendons
A small study that examined the benefits of tendons and ligaments was done by a manufacturer who sponsored it. It found that athletes suffering from Achilles tendon injuries saw a significant improvement in their recovery.
A 2019 systematic review of 11 studies involving 805 patients revealed promising results in skin health. Daily best collagen pills for women supplements between 2.5g to 10g were found to have positive effects on skin aging. They could also help increase skin elasticity and hydration.
However, the types and dosages of the supplements used in trials varied making it difficult to compare results. It’s important to note that supplements can sometimes contain other beneficial ingredients, such as vitamin C. This makes it unlikely that collagen acts alone.
Dr. Adrian Lim is a practicing dermatologist who is also a fellow of the Australasian College of Dermatologists. He says that there is not enough evidence to show that collagen supplementation will improve the skin’s appearance.
“However there are studies that show a microscopic improvement in skin health, but these improvements may not be clinically evident (studies in this area are either lacking or slow).
Is it safe to consume too much collagen?
It’s difficult to determine how much collagen supplementation would benefit you, as there isn’t enough evidence.
Dynan warns that although there have been promising results in a few studies, not enough information is available on the best dosage and type to be ingested for skin and anti-aging benefits.
Although the benefits might not be obvious, you won’t experience any harm if you take supplements in the recommended dosages or consume collagen-enriched foods products.
Lim says that supplementation is safe if you consume 2.5-15g of food per day.
Healthy skin, nails, and joints can be achieved by eating healthy food
Importantly, you don’t have to take supplements or eat collagen-rich foods to increase your collagen levels.
Lim says that collagen can be synthesized in the body by ingesting nutrients and proteins through a balanced diet.
The advantage to consuming collagen in food rather than as a supplement is that you also get other nutrients (such as vitamins, minerals, and different proteins).
Dynan says, “The bottom line, eat a varied and healthy diet. This will provide enough nutrients to naturally boost collagen production.
Is collagen vegetarian or vegan?
Supplements and food products that contain collagen are often made from animal collagen. This means it is not suitable for vegetarians or vegans.
Although genetically engineered collagen from yeast has been created, it is only currently available in medical settings.
There are many vegan and vegetarian ‘collagen boosters’ that contain plant-based collagen growth stimulants. However, there is little evidence that they offer the same benefits as animal-derived collagen.
Don’t worry if your diet doesn’t include animal products or collagen supplements. Consuming a variety of plant proteins, such as soy, quinoa and legumes will provide all the amino acids your body needs for collagen building.