Are collagen supplements really effective?
Oral collagen supplements are an excellent example of a popular product cosmetic makers claim can have miraculous anti-aging benefits. But there’s plenty of debate about whether consuming these supplements is the best way to improve collagen quality, increase production, and slow degradation. In a culture obsessed with skincare, it can be tough to know which supplements, serums, and creams are worth the money and which are useless.
What is collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body. It provides structure to the skin, cartilage, bone, and connective tissue. It’s vital to the processes of wound healing, scar formation, musculoskeletal function, blood flow, and vision.
Are collagen supplements worth it?
These supplements are usually advertised as capable of restoring skin firmness, boosting bone health, and strengthening hair and nails. But specialists are contradicted on whether they can deliver these results. There is no definitive evidence about the ideal mode of taking collagen supplementation yet. Many collagen supplements include hydrolyzed collagen which is partially broken down and easier to absorb. And smaller chains of amino acids that may turn out to be even more effective. They are called peptides.
However, a meta-analysis published in the International Journal of Dermatology in 2021 provides some scientific evidence to back up the effectiveness of collagen supplementation. This study concluded that 90 days of collagen supplementation can decrease wrinkles and improve skin hydration and elasticity.
And a 2022 study with 100 participants showed that the oral supplementation of low-molecular-weight collagen could improve wrinkles, elasticity, hydration, and barrier integrity of photoaged facial skin without negative effects.
While these studies support the use of oral collagen, assertions made by collagen supplement manufacturers often transcend the evidence currently supported by the literature.
Other methods to improve collagen production effectively
When it comes to skincare, topical vitamin C in the form of l-ascorbic acid, combined with ferulic acid and alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E) are ways of experiencing similar benefits offered by collagen production.
These three ingredients have a great antioxidant effect and work in synergy to protect against UV irradiation (UV rays cause not only photoaging but also skin cancer). The result of combining these ingredients is stronger when Vitamin C+E and ferulic are combined with SPF.
Any anti-aging skin care routine should include several types of ingredients that promote the creation of collagen, including vitamin A derivatives, such as retinol, retinoate, and anything with “retin”. It should contain peptides, shorter amino acid chains that serve as building blocks for collagen; and hyaluronic acid, which acts as the “glue” between the amino acid building blocks.
Some lifestyle habits can help with collagen levels, too. Smoking and consuming excessive sugar or processed foods can cause a decline in collagen levels. Drinking lots of water and eating a well-balanced diet helps. Good sleep hygiene and stress reduction are also helpful for maintaining the cellular processes that regulate our collagen synthesis or breakdown.