Are collagen supplements effective?

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Quality is not measured by price – think carefully before you jump.

I receive so many collagen supplements that almost everyone leaves my home without being given a box of expensive gelatine. You frequently ask me questions about whether collagen capsules, capsules and jellies are worth the money. It is no surprise that the US oral collagen market’s value will increase by $8 billion (PS5.85bn), by 2027.

Collagen is a protein that accounts for around three quarters (or more) of the dry weight in human skin. It helps it stay firm, supple, and plump. Collagen decreases as we age, less so for sun worshippers and smokers, accelerating sagging. Hydrolysed collagen (animal derived, vegan) promises to replace this lost protein.

Numerous credible studies have shown that oral collagen may reduce wrinkles, slackening, skin discolouration, and even cellulite in some individuals. There are many variables. The optimal intake of collagen, as well as the best type and dosage for each individual, are not yet known.

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Positive studies have been funded at least partially by collagen brands. Besides, the supplement industry is not regulated or standardised so no two capsules should be identical. It is not known how much collagen the body absorbs or retains. It is clear that not all collagen-takers will experience any improvement, and some may even be wasting their money.

Although it is too soon to know if oral collagen will be successful, one can take the praying agnostic approach and ingest it as a precautionary step. Research has shown that collagen is extremely safe. This was confirmed by the widespread endorsement of antioxidant skincare by cosmetic dermatologists.

However, as a layperson in that same community, I can see – although anecdotally- a stark difference: Every expert I know was an early adopter for antioxidant skincare, while very few industry professionals (myself included), are considering popping collagen capsules.

Dermatologists will often hang their lab coats upon the benefits of a collagen-rich diet. This includes plenty of dairy, meat, poultry, fish, and soy. Topical retinoids such as retinol have been clinically shown to inhibit collagen’s further breakdown and stimulate its production.

If you are playing the long-term game with oral collagen, I advise to stay away from expensive supplements. Gambling is not a sign of quality, and price is not an indicator of quality.

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