For the past year or so, I've been seeing various brands of collagen powder popping up all over my Instagram. From coworkers to friends, it seems like everyone has jumped on the collagen supplement bandwagon. I've often asked my friends what they love about it, and I've heard a variety of responses, from it helping their hair grow to improving their skin and even helping a friend's joints feel better (she tore her ACL and MCL). The results seem promising, but before I spend more than five dollars on a product, I always research whether or not it's worth it. Here's the scoop.
Collagen is a protein found in our bodies that makes up our skin, hair, and nails. The collagen supplements we purchase come from animal byproducts containing amino acids, like proline and glycine, that are found in our connective tissue, cartilage, bone, and skin. Nicole Osinga, RD, shared in an interview that our bodies need collagen and produce it naturally, so adding collagen supplements are not necessary. She explained that once collagen is consumed, it's not completely absorbed by our bodies. Instead, it's broken down in our digestive systems, turning it into amino acids that the body uses wherever they are needed. This means that just because you take it, it doesn't mean there will be a direct correlation to promoting bone growth, hair health, and giving you better skin. But there could be some benefits from taking collagen regularly. Here are three ways science has proven that it can potentially affect your health in positive ways.
Collagen Can Prevent Aging Skin
A 2015 study found oral supplementation of collagen peptides increased skin hydration after being taken for eight weeks. They found that the collagen density in the dermis had significantly increased with the results continuing after the 12-week mark. Another study found that skin elasticity showed significant improvement after taking collagen peptides for four weeks. The same study reported a positive influence of collagen hydrolysate, but the data collected didn't reach a level of statistical significance.
It May Improve Joint Health
Collagen hydrolysate can potentially increase bone mineral density, "having a protective effect on articular cartilage," but most importantly it can provide pain relief. A 24-week study focusing on activity-related joint pain found that athletes given the collagen supplement showed improvement in joint pain. The authors also noted that future studies are needed to support these findings. A 2015 study found that collagen peptides are potential therapeutic agents for managing osteoarthritis and maintaining overall joint health.
It May Promote Hair Growth
Research has shown that collagen can support hair building proteins, which in return can prevent hair loss and promote hair growth. More research is needed, but it can't hurt to use if you're trying to strengthen and grow your hair.
Collagen is still fairly new, but the results seem to be pretty promising although more research on the complete benefits and effects of collagen is needed. It's important to note that as of Feb. 22, 2018, collagen supplements are not regulated by the FDA. As a friendly reminder, always consult your physician when making changes to your supplementation and diet.