You’ve probably heard of collagen: the new 'kale', the beauty anti-aging 'must-have', the 'need to try trend' your friends and coworkers just can’t stop talking about.
And, you might be wondering does collagen work? Should I take collagen?
We’re here to tell you, collagen is worth the hype.
While there is a lot of misleading information out there, it’s time to set the record straight. This article discusses what is collagen, benefits of taking collagen, and what collagen is made of.
Breaking Down the Facts
The science is clear: collagen is the most abundant source of protein in our bodies. It’s a major structural protein that our bodies naturally produce and is essential to the functioning of our connective tissue.
In fact, collagen makes up 30% of the total protein in our bodies, 70% of our hair, 80% of our skin, and 90% of our bone mass. Yeah, it’s pretty vital to the health of our appearance and well-being.
Think of collagen as the glue that holds our bodies together – our bodies depend on it to keep skin plump, hair healthy, joints robust, muscles strong, and our digestive system working properly.
But with any trend, staying informed is essential to making it worth trying. We love a good fad as much as the next, but education is essential.
Ahead, collagen myths busted to help you stay weary of collagen trends and might make you consider adding collagen peptides supplements to your routine.
1. “I Heard Collagen Doesn’t Work”
You heard wrong. The truth is, collagen has actually been around for centuries. It’s an ancient tradition used by Asiatic regions through consuming collagen-rich dishes, such as chicken feet and beef tendons, for its incredible (and now not so secret) health and beauty benefits – long before collagen trends were getting started.
You may have seen publications and individuals that claim collagen doesn’t do anything for you. We’re here to put this myth to rest, for good.
While collagen has been around for ages, more clinical studies have recently come to light due to the spike in popularity. Meaning, the number of studies done on collagen are increasing, but are not as high in number as other ingredients that have been used much earlier on, like vitamin C for example.
This has resulted in individuals reporting back with distrust and skepticism.
However, thanks to science, clinical studies have and still prove collagen’s incredible results. Consuming collagen enhances fibroblast synthesis for positive benefits on your skin and health. We’ll cover that shortly.
2. “My Body Already Produces Collagen, So I Don't Need to Take Collagen Supplements”
You’re halfway there.
Starting in our early 20’s, our body produces less collagen, at a declining rate of 1.5% per year. Meaning, the older you get, the less collagen your body produces, with studies showing a 30% total decline of collagen by our 40’s.
With this decline in collagen, our cells lose structure and become weaker, thinner, and looser, leading to things like wrinkles, dry skin, hair loss, breaking nails, joint pain, digestion issues, weaker immune system, less energy, and aching bones and muscles.
But hope isn’t all lost. Science shows that by taking collagen supplements, we can regenerate, restore, and strengthen our connective tissue, resulting in benefits for our entire body, inside and out.
What does all of this mean? The best time to start taking collagen is now.
In one study, the effects of collagen on the skin were evaluated and found that collagen improved skin’s elasticity and hydration while reducing wrinkles with daily usage for 8 weeks.
Another study reviewed 11 studies with a total of 805 patients, and found that collagen supplements improve skin aging, skin elasticity, and hydration when taken for 8 – 24 weeks. The study also concluded that long-term consumption of collagen can aid with wound healing and skin aging.
3. “Supplementing Collagen, Got It. So, Collagen Lotions and Serums?”
Mainstream usage of collagen has been predominantly lotions, topicals, and injections. This has led people to believe that collagen should be something you apply on the skin instead of something to consume.
Now, there's nothing wrong with skincare products that contain collagen – like masks or serums – but, those products don't have the same effects as drinking collagen. Why is this?
Scientifically, your skin can't absorb collagen topically because the collagen particles are too large to reach the dermis (where your skin’s collagen is located). If you've seen improvement in your skin from using collagen topical skincare products, that's most likely because the other ingredients in that product (we commonly see vitamin C or algae) helped improve your skin.
So, does this mean I should drink collagen? Yes!
When you consume collagen, it’s absorbed by your body and goes through the small intestine to be transported through other parts of your body through your bloodstream. Studies show that taking collagen supplements benefits your appearance and health, but that you have no control of where the collagen you consume actually goes.
This just means that collagen side effects – or rather, the benefits from taking collagen – vary from person to person. But that’s true with just about anything because our bodies differ from one another.
4. “I Have to Take a Specific Collagen Type, Like Collagen Type I, II, or III”
There is more than one 1 type of collagen out there – 28 types to be exact, but before you start searching for a certain collagen type, just know that the type isn't important as the sourcing and quality of your collagen.
You can take any type of collagen for equal benefits in your skin, hair, nails, joints, bones, and health. It doesn't matter what type of collagen you take because once you consume collagen, it's absorbed in your gut and goes through your bloodstream and you can't control where collagen goes in your body.
That said, when you are looking for the best collagen peptides supplement, look at the sourcing and quality of the collagen instead of the type. Here are the main sources of collagen:
– Bovine collagen (beef)
– Marine collagen (fish)
– Chicken collagen
FYI: These sources of collagen typically contain collagen types I, II, or III.
Be sure to look for a collagen that is organic or non-GMO, pure, and have no additives or fillers. More below.
5. “Price is the Main Factor When I Select My Collagen. But, What About the Quality and Servings?”
Before you start buying the cheapest (or most expensive) collagen out there, make sure you read the label first!
When it comes to mass-produced trending products, like collagen, quality and company ethics are often lost in translation. Read the label and do your research on the company before you make a purchase.
The cheapest collagen supplements or the most ridiculously expensive collagen supplements (we've seen some for over $100) is probably not your best option.
Instead, look for these things before you buy your collagen supplements:
– Organic or non-GMO
– Grass-fed, pasture-raised for bovine collagen
– Wild-caught or fresh water farm-raised for marine collagen
– Pure and clean, no fillers or additives
– No sugar added
– Clinically-proven for efficacy and absorption
– Contains more than 5-6g of collagen per serving (some collagen brands only provide 1-4g of collagen per serving)
6. “Vegan Collagen is Just as Effective”
Unfortunately, this is a myth.
Collagen is inherently an animal-by product and the benefits that come from consuming collagen come from the amino acids found in particular parts of animals, such as fish skin and beef bones. This also means that you can't get the same benefits from eating meat dishes, such as steak or fish fillets, as you would get from collagen due to this very reason.
The vegan collagen supplements you see on the market are options for those who don’t consume meat or are on a strict plant-based diet. The plant-based ingredients found in these products won’t supply your body with actual collagen, but may help skin and health. That said, there isn’t enough science to support the efficacy of vegan collagen boosters giving the same benefits that come from collagen at this time.
Fruits and vegetables containing silica, phytonutrients, and vitamin C help build skin’s natural collagen but studies show these ingredients are most effective when taken with a collagen supplement.
If you’re like us (and science), we’re convinced that this trend is here to stay and have seen the positive effects of taking collagen first and foremost. More than a trend, collagen provides incredible and natural benefits in your skin, hair, nails, joints, bones, and overall health.