Nutrition plays a key role in the maintenance, health, and integrity of the skin. Along with tech advances in food science and the skincare industry, the use of functional foods like collagen is turning into a billion-dollar market. So much so that the collagen supplements industry is projected to increase to $6.63 billion by 2025.
But, is collagen really worth the hype? Can it really help to slow down the clock? Read on to find out.
Collagen is a family of proteins that make up the bulk of the tissues in the human body. It is also a part of the body’s extracellular matrix, which means it’s responsible for holding the cells in your body together.
Each collagen has a specific role and it’s own gene that is used to code it. In your DNA you have a blueprint for every type of collagen, which includes where it’s made, where it’s supposed to go in the body, etc.
Collagen can be found in the lower layer of the skin known as the ‘dermis’ and it makes up about 80% of the skin. However, the quality and quantity of that collagen begin to decline steadily as we age. This is natural and it’s what causes signs of aging like wrinkle formation, age spots, discoloration, dry skin, etc.
What Collagen Supplements Are Made Of
Collagen comes in a variety of forms. You’ve got marine collagen which is made from fish scales, bovine collagen which is made from the bones and connective tissue of cows, as well as chicken collagen that’s derived mainly from the cartilage and bones of the chicken.
This is used to make different types of collagen supplements, including gelatin (cooked collagen), collagen hydrolysate/ collagen peptides.
Gelatin has to be the most common type of collagen. It’s made by heating up the collagen (i.e. through bone broth) so that it forms into a gel.
When heated up, collagen falls apart and is easier to process for use in supplements.
- Hydrolysate/ Collagen Peptides:
Collagen hydrolysate has a lower weight than gelatin and it easily dissolves in water because unlike gelatin, hydrolysate doesn’t gel at room temperature. Because it doesn’t solidify, it’s easier to add it to drinks and liquids like your morning smoothies, coffee, and/or juice.
It’s also thoroughly broken down and easier to assimilate into the bloodstream. Collagen peptides mainly come from marine and bovine sources.
Does Collagen Have Anti-Aging Properties?
There’s a limited but growing amount of randomized controlled trials that look at the antiaging benefits of collagen supplements.
One study with 114 female participants aged 45 to 65 years required the intake of 2.5 grams of collagen peptides per day for 8 weeks. At the end of the study, the participants had fewer eye wrinkles and an increase in procollagen 1, a type of collagen present on the skin, and an increase in elastin.
In another study of 33 Japanese women who took 10 grams of fish collagen hydrolysate per day for 8 weeks a 10% increase in skin hydration was observed.
In one randomized, placebo-controlled study done in 2012 at the COSderma Laboratories in Bordeaux, 106 women aged 40 to 65 were given 10 grams of collagen hydrolysate. At the end of the 12-week study, an 8.83% increase in the skin’s collagen density was observed. The placebo group had a 0% increase in collagen density and an increase in fragmented or disrupted collagen.
There’s another double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial from 2018 that we have to mention. In this study, 120 patients between the ages of 40 to 60 years were given a supplement that combines 5 grams of fish collagen hydrolysate with glucosamine and a variety of antioxidants. At the end of the 90-day trial period, the participants had a 7.5% increase in skin elasticity in comparison to controls.
It’s clear; ingesting collagen can increase the collagen content of your skin, leading to thicker and more supple skin.