Collagen supplements can help you improve your skin quality, reduce wrinkles and promote better bone health and density.

Collagen is a protein that helps to make tissues stronger and resilient. It is known as the main building block when it comes to the formation of your skin or your hair. It also helps build your muscles and ligaments. Collagen supplements come in handy when you are looking to improve skin health, prevent bone loss as well as pain and build muscle. These supplements contain amino acids, as well as other nutrients such as zinc, biotin and vitamin C. However, it is very important to understand how to choose the right collagen supplement suited to your skin and body.

What is collagen?

Collagen is a natural protein that serves as one of the primary building blocks of various tissues in the body, including skin, bones, tendons, and cartilage. “Collagen is crucial for maintaining the structure and strength of tissues throughout the body. In the skin, it supports elasticity and firmness, which helps delay the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles,” says dermatologist Dr Raina Nahar. In bones and joints, collagen contributes to strength and flexibility, making movement easier and more comfortable. Loss of collagen with age can lead to skin sagging, joint discomfort, and other age-related issues.

Do collagen supplements work?

While collagen is naturally produced in the body, over time its production slows down, and that is where collagen supplements come in. These can increase your collagen intake and support other natural sources of collagen such as bone broth. A process called hydrolyzation is followed while making collagen supplements, which means that collagen is broken into peptides or a string of amino acids. This is done so that the body can absorb the collagen easily.

Collagen Supplement: What is it, benefits, how to choose
Collagen supplements are available in the form of powder, tablets, injections and creams. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Health benefits of collagen supplements

Collagen has a variety of uses, particularly for supporting skin and bone health, as well as skin. Here are some of the benefits that we get from collagen and collagen supplements.

1. Can reduce signs of ageing

One of the most prominent collagen supplement benefits is that it helps keep skin firm and elastic, which can help reduce the appearance of ageing. A study, published in the International Journal of Dermatology studied the outcomes of 19 studies where 1125 participants between the ages of 20-70 years took hydrolyzed collagen supplements for 90 days. At the end of the period, there was a considerable decrease in wrinkles and, an increase in skin elasticity and hydration of the skin.

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2. Can help in maintaining bone density

Another health benefit of collagen is that it can add bone density and integrity. In a study, published in Nutrients, 102 women, who were postmenopausal and had reduced bone mineral density, were given five grams of collagen supplements every day for one year. It was observed that bone density in their spine and femur increased considerably. After this, a follow-up study, published in the Journal of Bone Metabolism, was also done, where 5 grams of collagen was given to 31 participants for four years. There was a steady increase in their bone mineral density by 5.79–8.16% in their spines and 1.23–4.21% in the femurs.

3. Can support joint health

One of the uses of collagen supplements is that they help to restore joint health and reduce stiffness in the body. It reduced joint tenderness as well. A study, published in Current Medical Research and Opinion, conducted a 24-week study with athletes suffering from joint pain. They were divided into two groups, one group was given a liquid concentration of 10 grams of collagen, while another was given a placebo. There was a significant improvement in joint pain in the group which was given collagen. It also helps reduce the risk of joint deterioration, the study suggested.

4. Can support the growth of hair and nails

Collagen supplements and natural sources of collagen can reduce hair loss as well as promote growth. It can make your nails stronger as well. However, there is more research needed on how this is done.

How to choose a good supplement?

When choosing a collagen supplement, it is important to look for products that comply with regulatory standards such as FDA guidelines to ensure quality and safety.

1. They should be free from unnecessary additives

The supplement should be free from unnecessary additives, such as sugar, preservatives, or artificial colours.

2. Source of collagen must be high-quality

It is very important to check the source of the collagen—marine collagen is considered high quality.

3. Check the dosage

You need to recheck the serving size and the amount of collagen that is there in one serving. Collagen should constitute at least 90 per cent of the serving size.

4. Educate yourself about types of collagen

When it comes to collagen types, there are 20 of them found in our body. Types I and III are good for skin, nails and hair as well as bone health, and healthy ageing. You can find these types of collagen in collagen hydrolysate and gelatin powders. Type II collagen is located in the cartilage as well as bone broths, and helps the most with joint pain. A natural source of this is chicken and pork skin. It is important to understand why you want to take collagen.

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How should collagen supplements be used?

Collagen supplements can come in various forms, such as powder, tablets, injections, or creams. Marine collagen is a commonly used form that is generally well-absorbed by the body. “It’s essential to follow the recommended dosage provided by a healthcare professional. Incorporate the supplement into your daily routine at a consistent time to maximise benefits,” says Dr Nahar. Some users mix collagen powder into beverages, while others take it in pill form.

What are the drawbacks of using collagen supplements?

The main drawback of collagen supplements is the limited clinical evidence supporting their effectiveness in skincare. “While many people report positive experiences, the scientific consensus is still developing,” says Dr Nahar. Potential side effects could include mild digestive issues such as bloating or stomach upset, depending on the type and source of the collagen. “It’s important to start with a low dose and observe how your body responds,” says Dr Nahar.

Can collagen supplements be used every day?

Collagen supplements can generally be used daily, but it is advisable to do so under the guidance of a healthcare professional. They can recommend the appropriate form and dosage for your needs. Regular use may yield the best results, but individual responses can vary, so monitor how your body reacts and adjust accordingly.

Collagen supplements dosage

The dosage of collagen supplements depends on the kind of supplement that you are taking. According to this study, published in Nutrients, 2.5–15 grams of  Hydrolyzed collagen, which is the most common supplement, should be taken.

Meanwhile, 10-40 mg daily of undenatured collagen supplements used for joint support is safe to be taken, according to this study, published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Medicine.

Collagen rich foods
Vitamin C-rich foods also provide collagen to the body. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Natural ways of increasing collagen

Before you hop on to collagen supplements, there are some collagen dietary supplements that you can try as well that can help you increase your collagen.

1. Aloe vera

Aloe vera is great when it comes to increasing collagen in the body, as it is used to heal as well as soothe wounds. A study in the Indian Journal of Dermatology, suggests that aloe vera, when applied topically, increases collagen. This is how it treats burns and wounds.

2. Vitamin C

Foods rich in vitamin C also boost collagen production. A study, published in the Nutrition Journal, states that vitamin C-rich foods lead to the synthesis of Hyaluronic acid, and this helps to increase collagen in the body. Therefore, make sure to include oranges, broccoli, and strawberry, cilantro in your diet.

3. Ginseng

The consumption of ginseng can also add to the production of collagen in the body. A study, published in Rejuvenation Research, suggests that ginseng can protect skin from the harmful rays of the sun, and can lead to glowing skin as well.

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