Written by Tangela Kindell, FH Community Manager, Nutritionist 

Creams, injections, powders, pills, and drinks. So many products are on the market promising to reduce wrinkles, plump skin, and create an effortless glow that can turn back the hands of time on aging. One ingredient that everyone has in their shopping carts is collagen, which is expected to be worth $22.6 billion by 2027! Despite the growing demand for collagen, do these products actually work? Read on to see what the research has to say.

What is Collagen and why is it important?

Collagen is a type of protein known as the body’s “scaffolding” for its role in providing structure for the bones, skin, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. It’s the most plentiful protein, making up ⅓ of protein in the body and 75% of the weight of the skin. That means that collagen is very important for skin elasticity, volume, and structure to prevent wrinkles and sagging. It’s also really important for bone and joint health to support movement and flexibility. 

Collagen production slows and breakdown increases with age. Some lifestyle decisions like smoking can damage collagen while others – like getting enough vitamin C – can protect and build collagen.

What Does Research Say About Collagen Supplements?

Recent studies have explored whether consuming collagen can improve the levels of this protein in the body and directly benefit the skin. Several studies suggested a significant improvement of skin hydration, elasticity, roughness, wrinkling, density, and overall appearance with collagen supplementation. Some even showed that these benefits could last for weeks after the end of supplementation!

Others are concerned about poor supplement regulation and the wide variation in supplement quality. We also lack the ability to control where the main components of collagen (proline and glycine) end up as the body uses them where needed most. That means if a collagen supplement promotes anti-aging, it may instead work to support recovering muscles. 

How to Get Good Quality Collagen

Natural food sources such as bone broth, gelatin, and meat are full of collagen. Plant-based eaters can support their collagen production by getting their daily dose of vitamin C through citrus, leafy greens, strawberries, and more. 

Should You Take A Collagen Supplement?

It’s up to you if you are interested in giving it a try. Just be sure it’s high quality. Adding a collagen supplement may have minimal risk or adverse side effects. It might even benefit your skin’s health and function.

Sources: PMC 23949208PMC7547010, PMC 31627309, PMC6073484PMC4685482, PMC3426261, 23949208.