You’ve probably noticed collagen supplements recently gaining popularity and popping up in the supplements section of many grocery stores! Have you wondered why collagen supplements are suddenly so popular? In this article I will explain what collagen supplements are, where they come from and the pro’s and con’s of supplementing with collagen!
What is Collagen?
Collagen is a protein that is abundant in both humans and animals. Collagen supplements usually come in the form of hydrolyzed collagen (or collagen peptides). Hydrolyzed collagen is a broken-down form that is easier for the body to process and absorb.
3 Main Types:
There are 3 main types of collagen used in supplementation, each of which can have different functions in the body. Type I collagen is abundant in animals and is a structural component of skin, ligaments, bones and connective tissue. Type II provides joint support and is found in cartilage. Type III is found in the extracellular matrix of internal organs and the skin. Type I collagen is commonly combined with Type III collagen in supplements to improve skin elasticity. Type II can be found in bone broth and collagen supplements and is advertised with reduction in joint pain. Common sources of all 3 types include the bones, cartilage or skins of fish or cows.
Collagen peptides act as natural antioxidants in the body, and can be used to improve skin elasticity, hair and nail strength, and joint functioning1,2. A small study on female volunteers around the age of 30 showed after 6 weeks of ingesting 5g of type I collagen hydrolysates skin elasticity and moisture improved1. The same study reported the participants had improved facial smoothness and decreased wrinkles1! Studies have also shown ingesting collagen hydrolysates can be used to reduce joint pain as it may protect articular cartilage3,4. A specific study on male and female varsity athletes demonstrated athletes who consumed 10g Type II collagen hydrolysates daily had reduced joint pain and improved athletic performance5.
Although the majority of research studies have suggested positive outcomes related to the ingestion of collagen supplements, further studies need to be done to definitively link collagen to the claimed benefits. Collagen shouldn’t be used as a primary protein supplement. Collagen is an incomplete protein source as it doesn’t contain all 9 essential amino acids. Most collagen supplements also aren’t vegan or vegetarian friendly.
Although collagen isn’t a high-quality source of protein, it can still be used in addition to a well-balanced diet as it may improve skin and joint health! Collagen peptides don’t degrade in high heat so supplements can be used in a variety of ways, such as adding a scoop to your morning coffee or tea however if you want to get your collagen from food its is best paired with vitamin C rich food to aide in collagen synthesis. If you want to start supplementing with collagen 8-12g per day is the recommended amount 1,4 and a consult with your local Registered Dietitian :) .
1.Liu, D., Nikoo, M., Boran, G., Zhou, P., & Regenstein, J. (2015). Collagen and Gelatin. Annual Review of Food Science and Technology, 6, 527-557. http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-food-031414-111800
2. Choi, F., Sung, T., Juhasz, M., & Mesinkovsk, N. (2019). Oral Collagen Supplementation: A Systematic Review of Dermatological Applications. Journal of Drugs and Dermatology, 18, 9-16. https://jddonline.com/articles/dermatology/S1545961619P0009X/
3. Porfirio, E., & Fanaro, G. (2016). Collagen Supplementation as complementary therapy for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis: a systematic review. 19, 153-164. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/1809-9823.2016.14145\
4. Moskowitz, R. (2000). Role of collagen hydrolysate in bone and joint disease. Semin Arthritis Rheum, 2, 87-99. 10.1053/sarh.2000.9622
5. Clark, K., Sebastianelli, W., Flechsenhar, K., Aukermann, D., Meza, F., Millard, R., Deitch, J., Sherbondy, P., & Albert, A. (2008) 24-Week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain. Current Medical Research and Opinion, 24, 1485-1496, DOI: 10.1185/030079908X291967