Collagen is the most abundant protein in animals that is found in body tissues such as skin, cartilage, bone, and nails. Collagen peptides are short chains of amino acids that come from collagen, but they are more easily absorbed by the body.
Gelatin, which is basically a cooked down form of collagen, is not the same as collagen peptides and acts differently in the body.
The collagen that is naturally produced by the body helps maintain skin elasticity, keeps bones and joints supple, and promotes strong hair and nails. As we age, our bodies produce less collagen, so some people look to supplements to replace what the body no longer makes.
Some studies have shown collagen supplementation may be effective for:
- Improving skin elasticity and hydration in older people
- Improving symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
- Reduced joint pain in athletes
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
However, many of the studies that showed these benefits were small, preliminary, or funded by companies that produced collagen products so there may be some bias in the results.
There are claims that collagen peptides can help with numerous other conditions, but there is insufficient evidence and/or conflicting studies that collagen peptides can help with:
- Cognitive function
- Pressure ulcers
More study is needed to determine if collagen peptides are effective for these conditions.
For those who choose to take a collagen supplement, be prepared to take it for the rest of your life to see benefits. The body produces an enzyme called collagenase that breaks down collagen. For supplementation to work it must be continuously used.
Collagen supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) so it can be helpful to look for products with USP Verified seal from the United States Pharmacopeial Convention or a blue and white NSF International seal, which can help assure consumers the products have been independently verified to meet higher standards and the products contain the ingredients listed on the label in the proper quantity and potency.
Most collagen supplements are made from fish scales or cowhides and would not be suitable for vegetarians or vegans.
How Can I Naturally Boost Collagen Production?
- Limit or avoid sun exposure, which can break down collagen and contribute to skin aging
- Don’t smoke
- Get adequate vitamin C in your diet, especially if you are vegetarian or vegan
- Skincare products with vitamin C may also help improve skin
- Foods to eat that can help boost collagen production include:
- Eat plenty of foods that can boost collagen production
- This includes foods high in vitamin A, anthocyanins, and proline
- Good sources of these nutrients include bone broth, egg whites, blueberries, nuts, and cabbage
- Limit sugar consumption which can weaken the collagen in the body
- Manage autoimmune disorders
- Some autoimmune diseases damage collagen
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Skin Problems and Treatments Resources