Do I Need to Take Collagen Supplements?

Find out everything you need to know about collagen supplements and their potential benefits.
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Supplements lie on a table ©Tanja Ivanova

More and more people are adding collagen supplements to their skin care and supplementation routines. Some say it will change their lives – clearer skin, healthier joints – while others say it’s another expensive “remedy” that doesn’t do much good. Let’s leave marketing aside and go straight to the science.

What is collagen?

First of all, it’s important to understand what collagen is. Collagen is the most abundant protein in our body. Its importance lies in the fact that, among other things, it forms part of the composition of ligaments, tendons, cartilage, bones, skin, etc. It is an essential part of joint function. It helps tissues be strong, resilient, and able to withstand stretching.

Our body produces collagen naturally, but levels drop as we age. Collagen production is also negatively influenced by excessive sun exposure, smoking, alcohol abuse and lack of sleep and exercise.

How do collagen supplements work?

Despite its abundance in our body, collagen has become a top-selling supplement. It first appeared as an ingredient in skin creams and lotions. However, its efficacy as a topical application was questioned by dermatologists, since collagen is not naturally found on the surface of the skin, but in the deeper layers. However, its effectiveness as a topical application was questioned by dermatologists, as collagen is not found naturally on the surface of the skin, but in the deeper layers.

They can be sold as collagen peptides or hydrolyzed collagen, which are broken down forms of collagen that are more easily absorbed. Collagen supplements contain amino acids, the building blocks of protein, and some may also contain additional nutrients related to skin and hair health, such as vitamin C, biotin or zinc.

What does the research say about collagen?

The vast majority of collagen research focuses on skin and joint health. Some   randomized controlled trials have found that collagen supplements can improve skin elasticity. Other trials have found that supplements can improve joint mobility and decrease joint pain, such as in osteoarthritis or in athletes.

What happens is that in this case, with collagen, we have what is known as a conflict of interests: most of the research is funded or related in some way by the collagen supplement industry itself. So, as they say, this is information that we have to take with a grain of salt!

That said, none of the studies conducted have shown negative side effects of collagen consumption, so it is a completely safe supplement.

Collagen in our diet

There are many foods that promote collagen production: fish, seafood, meat, oranges, kiwis, peppers, eggs or whole grains, for example. When digested in the stomach, collagen is broken down into amino acids, which are then distributed to where the body needs more protein.  Foods that are generally recommended as part of a healthy eating plan and are never a bad idea to add to our diet.

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Sources for this article

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