Although the saying that our bodies make less collagen as we age is true, but the production of collagen drops most not only because of this but also due to excessive exposure to sun, smoking including second hand smoke, excessive consumption of alcohol, lack of sleep and lack of exercise. As the collagen level in our skin diminish, the deep skin layers change from a tightly organized network of fibers to an unorganized maze. Environmental exposure to skin such as harsh weather can also damage collagen fibers by reducing their thickness and strength which can lead to wrinkles on the skin surface (1).
Research on collagen supplementation are mostly on joint and skin health. Although studies pertaining to this using human subjects are still lacking, but some randomized controlled trials have found that collagen supplementation improve skin elasticity. In one study, women who took a supplement containing 2.5 – 5 grams of collagen for 8 weeks experienced less skin dryness and a significant increase in skin elasticity as compared to those who did not. Another study found out that women who consume it for 12 weeks experienced increased skin hydration and a significant reduction in wrinkle depth as compared with a control group (1,2, 3,4).
Trials on collagen supplement and joint health also found that it can improve joint mobility and decrease joint pain for people with osteoarthritis or in athletes (5). Collagen comprises about 60% of cartilage, a very firm tissue that surrounds bones and cushions them from the shock of high-impact movements; so a breakdown in collagen could lead to a loss of cartilage and joint problems.
Other than consumption of collagen based supplement, there are also foods that is rich with collagen, or that encourage collagen production other than lifestyles modification mentioned above. Food such as tough cuts of meat full of connective tissue like pot roast, brisket, and chuck steak. However, a high intake of red meat is not recommended as part of a long-term healthy diet. Collagen is also found in the bones and skin of fresh and saltwater fish. Bone broth which require animal bones to simmer in water with small amount of vinegar for 4 – 24hours also is said to have high collagen properties. However, the amount of amino acids will vary among batches, depending on types of bones used, cooking period, and many more. Other foods that can help to with production of collagen are foods that is rich with zinc such as legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and vitamin c rich food such as citrus fruits, bell peppers and tomatoes.
Although studies on the effectiveness of collagen to health is still not in the solid, but many available research has not shown negative side effects in individuals given collagen supplements (6). Thus, it is worth to try for its said benefits especially if the benefits is your health concerns! But be sure to talk to your healthcare professionals on this based on your medication intake and your health issues before consuming any health supplement.
- Harvard T.H. Chan. School of Public Health. Collagen.https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/collagen/
- Healthline. Top 6 Benefits of Taking Collagen Supplements. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/collagen-benefits
- Proksch E, Segger D, Degwert J, Schunck M, Zague V, Oesser S. Oral supplementation of specific collagen peptides has beneficial effects on human skin physiology: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2014;27(1):47-55. doi: 10.1159/000351376. Epub 2013 Aug 14. PMID: 23949208.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23949208/
- Borumand, M., & Sibilla, S. (2015). Effects of a nutritional supplement containing collagen peptides on skin elasticity, hydration and wrinkles. Journal of Medical Nutrition and Nutraceuticals, 4(1), 47.https://www.jmnn.org/article.asp?aulast=Borumand&epage=53&issn=2278-1870&issue=1&spage=47&volume=4&year=2015
- Bello AE, Oesser S. Collagen hydrolysate for the treatment of osteoarthritis and other joint disorders: a review of the literature. Current medical research and opinion. 2006 Nov 1;22(11):2221-32.
- Kim DU, Chung HC, Choi J, Sakai Y, Lee BY. Oral intake of low-molecular-weight collagen peptide improves hydration, elasticity, and wrinkling in human skin: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Nutrients. 2018 Jul;10(7):826.