Collagen supplements – Do they work?

The number of collagen supplements on the market has grown massively over the last few of years.

Many women are taking them for their potential to promote skin, hair, bone, muscle and joint health.

These can also be some of the key issues experienced by women after the age of 40

So, what is collagen and does it work?

Collagen is made of proteins and is part of the body’s skin, muscle and bone structure. It can help the skin to stretch and keeps it supple (elasticity).

It is like the glue that holds everything together.

Collagen is also recommended for supporting gut health and may help to repair damage to the gut lining.

The problem is as we age the amount of collagen we produce in our body decreases. In fact, according to research, by the time we get to 60, we may have lost around 50% of our body’s collagen…

It can also be reduced by diets high in sugar, nutrient deficiencies, sun damage, pollution and stress.

Collagen supplements

Most of the collagen supplements on the market come from cows, chickens or fish.

In order to be digested, the collagen has to be broken down into a predigested hydrolysed form. It may also be called collagen peptides.

It often comes in powder form and is pretty tasteless so can be mixed into food or drinks.

But does it work?

Skin, Hair, Nails 

As collagen levels decline with age we start to see more wrinkles and fine lines, and we may develop sagging skin. Our nails can become brittle and our hair may thin and get dryer.

Taking collagen supplements may help the body to produce more of its own collagen as well as other molecules that support skin health.

A 2021 analysis of 19 scientific studies covering the potential effects of collagen supplementation on skin health found that hydration and elasticity were improved, helping it to look smooth and supple.

Another small study showed that collagen supplements may help to reduce the appearance of cellulite over a 6 month period.

Your hair is primarily made up of protein and therefore, collagen may support your hair by providing more of the essential ingredients.

Joints and Bones

Collagen keeps our joints working smoothly and our bones strong

Scientific studies have found that collagen supplements can support joint and bone health and may help to manage osteoarthritis.

It has also been shown to support muscle growth.

What you should also know…

Vitamin C may help to absorb collagen so adding collagen to food containing vitamin C-rich foods may be beneficial

Vegan forms of collagen do not contain collagen itself but the nutrients to support the making of collagen in the body

It can take weeks or even months to see the benefits – 1-3 months for skin and longer for joint and bone health but current evidence suggests that it could work so it may be worth considering.

 

Please check with your healthcare provider before starting any supplements