April 8, 2024 — When Mary Claire Haver, MD, got interested within the potential of collagen supplementation a few decade in the past, she struggled to seek out many gold-standard research that confirmed main enhancements within the elements that mattered most to her sufferers, comparable to cellulite, wrinkles, and bone well being.

Now the info appears to be extra plentiful, although nonetheless murky. Collagen dietary supplements seem like protected to take and considerably efficient, relying on what drawback you’re attempting to unravel, what kind of complement you’re taking, and which components are included.

“I at all times say to search for the proof,” Haver stated. “I noticed randomized managed trials with a specific kind of collagen complement — referred to as VERISOL — that confirmed enchancment. Because it helped and definitely wouldn’t damage, I started taking it, and it turned a part of my routine.”

Haver, an OB/GYN in Texas who has drawn a serious following on social media underneath the model The ’Pause Life, speaks in regards to the challenges of menopause and the modifications in diet, train, and supplementation which will assist. Haver sells collagen dietary supplements with VERISOL underneath her model, however she nonetheless cautions her sufferers and followers to watch out about what they select to make use of since dietary supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA. 

“Firms can slap a label on something and promote it, and a part of why I created my model is as a result of it’s so onerous to seek out respected merchandise,” she stated. “On prime of that, you additionally see ‘meno-washing,’ the place corporations market merchandise as menopause-related and mark up the costs.”

Generally, Haver recommends in search of complement corporations that use third-party testing, checking the manufacturing location and date for freshness, and being conscious of unrealistic claims. If something appears too good to be true, it most likely is.

“I obtain DMs from followers with screenshots from Instagram or TikTok adverts, asking if a product is nice or if the claims are actual,” she  stated. “Purchaser beware: Nothing cures menopause, however there are issues we are able to do to help our our bodies, together with the correct dietary supplements.”

What Is Collagen?

Collagen serves as a serious structural protein in connective tissues and supplies help to pores and skin, hair, nails, bones, tendons, and cartilage. Collagen can be a constructing block for proteins comparable to keratin, which types pores and skin, hair, and nails. Different substances, together with hyaluronic acid and elastin, work with collagen to take care of pores and skin elasticity and moisture.

Greater than two dozen varieties of collagen exist, with kind I making up 90% of the collagen discovered within the human physique. Though the physique naturally produces collagen by way of amino acids present in protein-rich meals, manufacturing decreases over time on account of getting old, alcohol consumption, smoking, and solar harm, which might result in frequent points comparable to wrinkles, joint ache, and dry pores and skin.

Collagen dietary supplements usually use varieties I, II, and III, with varieties I and III being good for pores and skin, hair, and nails and sort II being good for joints and cartilage. Probably the most bioavailable types — or most available for digestion — are offered as hydrolyzed collagen, or collagen peptides which are damaged into smaller molecules that the physique can take in. 

However collagen isn’t thought-about a “full protein” as a result of it doesn’t include all the important amino acids wanted to assist the physique operate, so supplementation can’t change protein powders or different dietary supplements with all 9 important amino acids.

What Do Research Present About Collagen Dietary supplements?

New research about collagen supplementation have emerged previously decade, with a notable enhance lately. As an example, a 2021 systematic evaluate of 19 research that examined hydrolyzed collagen dietary supplements amongst 1,125 folks confirmed favorable outcomes for pores and skin hydration, elasticity, and wrinkles. In 2023, one other evaluate of 14 research with 967 folks discovered encouraging outcomes for pores and skin moisture ranges and elasticity. But one other 2023 evaluate of 26 research with 1,721 folks additionally confirmed improved pores and skin hydration and elasticity. Further research have famous potential advantages for joint stiffness and ache, bone density, and brittle nails. 

“The excellent news with collagen is that, until the product is adulterated or doesn’t observe good manufacturing practices, it usually received’t hurt you to take,” stated Mahtab Jafari, PharmD, a professor of pharmaceutical sciences on the College of California, Irvine. Jafari and her analysis crew take a look at botanical extracts and dietary dietary supplements for his or her anti-aging properties and long-term well being results.

With collagen merchandise, Jafari suggests paying shut consideration to components. She not too long ago obtained a name from somebody who began taking collagen and developed a rash. After wanting on the product, Jafari noticed that it used marine-based collagen, and the particular person was allergic to fish. Collagen dietary supplements might use fish, rooster, cow, pig, eggshells, or different sources of protein, she famous, but corporations generally make it troublesome to be taught in regards to the sources or components of the product.

As well as, Jafari stated, corporations might use research or information to again up their claims, however that will not inform the entire story. Most collagen-related research use self-reported measures from examine individuals, who might look within the mirror and write down what they see. This could skew the outcomes since a few of the measurements are subjective, together with the looks of wrinkles, fantastic strains, pores and skin hydration, or elasticity.

“Think about all the different variables that aren’t measured: Did all the examine individuals use sunscreen? What are their stress ranges?” Jafari stated. “For those who don’t use sunscreen to stop solar harm, as an illustration, then oral collagen isn’t essentially going to assist.”

Complement-related research additionally are likely to have main limitations. A lot of the research are observational, which suggests they don’t instantly take a look at the product as a part of an experiment, they usually usually embody a small variety of folks. In collagen-related research, practically all have included solely ladies, most targeted on pores and skin (fairly than hair, nails or joints), and lots of are funded by complement corporations.

“There are a number of research that recommend collagen dietary supplements could also be useful, however extra rigorous analysis is required to substantiate that that is true,” stated Temitayo Ogunleye, MD, an affiliate professor scientific dermatology on the College of Pennsylvania’s Perelman Faculty of Medication.

Though research are enhancing, few make clear the right dosing or the opposite components, comparable to vitamin C or hyaluronic acid, which will enhance the constructive results of collagen, she says, in addition to probably much less useful components comparable to added sugars or synthetic flavors. 

“Most of the research make the most of dietary supplements with different components, making it troublesome to tease out which ingredient could also be contributing to perceived modifications,” she stated. “There may be additionally an absence of standardization for measuring enchancment or enhance in collagen synthesis to objectively assess response to remedy.”

What Else Ought to I Think about With Collagen Dietary supplements? 

Collagen dietary supplements are usually protected to make use of, however different strategies could also be simply as efficient, comparable to consuming a balanced weight-reduction plan with sufficient protein, Ogunleye stated. 

“Because it’s damaged down as different proteins, I don’t see why ingesting collagen can be extra useful than consuming different types of protein,” she stated. “Lotions aren’t definitely worth the effort.”

For anti-aging properties particularly, Ogunleye recommends solar safety and retinoids over dietary supplements, in addition to life-style modifications comparable to getting sufficient sleep and decreasing stress.

“My takeaway is that each one the info may be very weak,” stated Robert Anolik, MD, scientific assistant professor of dermatology on the NYU Faculty of Medication. “Because it stands now, I don’t advocate that my sufferers devour collagen supplementation as a result of I consider it in the end wants extra information for a medical advice just because there is no such thing as a robust proof of efficacy.”

Anolik factors to the straightforward bodily nature of consuming meals or a complement: You’ll be able to’t dictate the place the collagen goes within the physique after being digested, so if you happen to determine to take a complement, it ought to be p

artwork of an total method fairly than a particular resolution.

“Simply because we devour collagen doesn’t imply that it’s going emigrate proper into the pores and skin layers the place we wish it,” he stated.  “Moreover, simply because we devour one thing doesn’t imply it’ll act in that particular operate in our physique. I’d like to have a stronger hairline, but when I swallowed some hair, it sadly received’t go proper to my scalp.”

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