Do Collagen Supplements Really Work?

Collagen supplements seem to be all the rage right now, but do they really work to slow the signs of aging?

Collagen is the main protein in the human body, found in skin, tendons, ligaments, and other connective tissues. As we age, we lose collagen, so it would make sense that ingesting more collagen would help your body to replenish what’s been lost, right?

While there are some studies that show that collagen supplements can help to safely improve skin’s appearance and reduce wrinkles, most dermatologists are on the fence as to whether or not the supplements really work, and if they are a benefi­cial addition to anti-aging treatments.

COLLAGEN OPTIONS Collagen is naturally produced by the body, but studies suggest the amount in skin may decrease by 1% each year, which contributes to aging skin. Because of this, supplements have been marketed as a way to help improve skin elasticity, promote joint health, build muscle, burn fat, and more.

Most collagen supplements are sourced from animals, and most often from pigs, cows and ­fish. The three main forms include:
• Hydrolyzed collagen: the collagen is completely broken down into smaller protein fragments called amino acids
• Gelatin: the collagen is partially broken down into amino acids
• Raw: the collagen protein remains intact

Research shows that your body most efficiently absorbs hydrolyzed collagen, but that all three forms are broken down in the body during digestion.

There are multiple dietary sources of collagen instead of supplementation. Since your body naturally produces collagen using the amino acids from the food in your diet, you don’t necessarily need to take collagen supplements to improve your skin. Some dermatologists suggest that bone broth is a better source of collagen than supplements. There are also vegan and vegetarian options for collagen supplements that have been made from genetically modi­fied yeast and bacteria.

STUDY RESULTS A recent scientifi­c study reviewed randomized-controlled trials using collagen supplementation for wound healing, skin quality, and anti-aging benefi­ts. They reviewed 11 different studies with a total of 805 patients. The results showed improvement in wound healing and skin aging. Oral collagen supplements were very safe and increased skin elasticity, hydration, and dermal collagen density.

Another study reviewed 19 articles looking at the effect of oral hydrolyzed collagen supplementation on skin hydration, elasticity, and wrinkles. Hydrolyzed collagen supplementation for 90 days was associated with decreased facial wrinkles along with improved skin hydration and elasticity. No adverse effects were reported.

THE TAKEAWAYS FROM SIPERSTEIN DERMATOLOGISTS Most dermatologists have mixed thoughts on whether collagen supplements actually work on improving skin aging. The common belief is that once collagen is ingested (in powder or food form), that it is broken down in the gastrointestinal system before it has a chance to reach the skin and make a real difference. While most dermatologists agree that collagen supplements are safe and unlikely to be harmful in any way, scientifi­c studies are still needed to provide evidence that they are a guaranteed way to improve skin aging.

If you have additional questions as to whether or not collagen supplements could work for you, or would like to know about other available options for helping you achieve your skincare goals, we’re here to help. Give us a call or schedule an appointment to talk with one of our board certi­fied dermatologists!

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