Collagen Supplements: What You Need to Know
Collagen supplements seem to be the current rage, but do you know what collagen is and why people are consuming it? Companies claim beneficial effects that include reduced wrinkles and joint pain. They even say it can hide cellulite. These eternal youth benefits sound too good to be true. Before we get to what the research suggests, let’s discuss what collagen is and where it comes from.
Collagen is a protein that our bodies naturally produce and is a main component of the connective tissue found in skin, hair, muscles and bones. As we age, the production of collagen starts to decline. Although we consume collagen in our diet through bone broth, salmon, eggs and leafy greens, eating just collagen sources alone may not be enough to meet our needs. Vitamin C plays a key role in the production of collagen in the body, so make sure to pair collagen-rich foods with those high in Vitamin C.
If I consume collagen in my diet, do I need to take a supplement?
As the saying goes: food first, supplement second. Several studies researching the effects of collagen supplementation on mice have shown promising effects for combating photoaging and suggest a potential application in healthcare to supplement cancer and cardiovascular disease treatment, but other studies suggest the benefits are only short term. A systematic review concluded all human trials of patients with hand, hip or knee osteoarthritis showed little to no short-term benefits from taking collagen supplements.
Collagen research is still growing and shows some potential, but there currently isn't enough research to support taking collagen supplements. More research is yet to come. If you are looking for ways to reduce aging now, consider getting more sleep and protecting your skin when out in the sun. Make lifestyle changes before running to the store to purchase a collagen supplement as it may not be the miracle anti-aging pill you were looking for.
Written by: Brianna Ballard, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern. Learn more about the Wellness Workdays Dietetic Internship.