Collagen supplements are definitely the latest anti-aging trend – social media is bursting with collagen lattes, powders and pills. Women are rushing out to purchase the latest brand promoted by their favourite influencer.
But do they really work? Are all collagen supplements created equally?
As a Naturopathic Doctor that is not being paid to promote any products at all, I am here to give you the bottom-line truth on collagen supplements – what form of collagen really works and what to avoid.
What is collagen?
Collagen is a protein made up of amino-acids: glycine, proline, hydroxyproline, and arginine, all of which help our body’s connective tissue, skin, hair, nails, as well as gut health stay as healthy as possible.
How does collagen affect the skin?
Skin, the largest organ is the body, is primarily composed of collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid. These components help to maintain skin structure and hydration. Studies have shown that collagen peptides, which can be absorbed into the dermis of the skin, can improve skin health and aging by increasing the number and diameter of collagen and elastin fibres, stimulating fibroblast proliferation and motility, and increasing production of hyaluronic acid.
How are collagen supplements made?
Collagen is extracted from the skins, bones, cartilage, and tendons of animal sources using hot water, creating gelatin. Enzymes can hydrolyze gelatin into collagen hydrolysate which is the main form of collagen used in dietary supplements.
Is collagen hydrolysate effective at improving skin health and aging?
No. Even though many supplements contain collagen hydrolysate, the molecular weight is too high to be absorbed effectively into the dermal layer of the skin. Most of the research that has been done uses a form of collagen that has been further refined by proteinases into collagen peptides with molecular weights between 0.3-8kDa. These are called hydrolyzed bioactive collagen peptides. The lower molecular weight ultimately provides advantages in absorption and distribution that gives real results.
What type of collagen do I need to purchase?
Always purchase hydrolyzed bioactive collagen peptides. This form of collagen has a very low molecular weight, which means that it is very well absorbed and delivered to the dermal layer of the skin. Some collagen supplements contain “Verisol” collagen, which is the type of hyrolyzed bioactive collagen peptides used in some of the best research out there.
What can hydrolyzed bioactive collagen peptides do?
The results of the proper collagen supplementation are real. Several studies have noted improvements in the signs and symptoms of skin aging following collagen supplementation, including improvements in skin hydration, elasticity, wrinkling, and dermal collagen density. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that administration of 2.5 g daily of bioactive collagen peptides (BCP) reduced eye wrinkle volume. BCP also increased procollagen type I by 65% and elastin by 18% after eight weeks.
Any side effects?
Collagen supplements are generally considered as safe without the common occurrence of adverse effects.
Do collagen supplements worsen acne?
Many collagen supplements that contain collagen hydrosylate may be aggravating for your skin. This occurs because the liver metabolizes these collagen proteins, which can be rather strenuous. When collagen proteins are further refined into hydrolyzed bioactive collagen peptides the skin should not be aggravated, but please proceed with caution and watch your skin carefully for any adverse reactions.
What are my favourite collagen supplements?
I like Cyto-Matrix Collagen Peptide Liquid Dermal Collagen Synthesis and CanPrev Collagen Beauty Liquid.
Alternately, look out for any collagen supplement containing Verisol collagen. The daily dose is 2.5 grams.