There always seems to be someone talking about collagen. People sell it in facial moisturizers, protein powders, soups, and even coffee creams! But the question is, are there any health benefits to collagen, or is it just all the hype?
To learn more about the benefits of taking collagen supplements, we spoke to Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, author of The sports nutrition manual and a member of our medical expert board, who points out that the only major effect of taking collagen supplements is that they can actually improve the health of your skin!
RELATED: Get even more health tips delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter!
What is collagen?
“Collagen is a major protein that your body produces that is part of your skin, ligaments, tendons, and muscles,” says Goodson. “It plays a role in strengthening your skin while providing elasticity and hydration.”
According to Harvard School of Public Health, Your body’s collagen production is also responsible for creating and maintaining the health of your connective tissues. As your body works hard to produce collagen on its own, its levels are dropping year after year.
“As we age, our bodies naturally produce less collagen, which over time can contribute to skin dryness, wrinkles and reduced skin elasticity,” says Goodson.
How to get more collagen?
As many people age and begin to lose natural collagen in their body, they may decide to increase their intake. Here are some common ways to incorporate more collagen into your daily life.
Foods rich in collagen
According to Harvard, we can get more collagen by consuming certain animal products, especially foods that themselves contain connective tissue, such as chicken, fish, pork, and beef. Some foods are even considered better than collagen supplements!
Although collagen is not found naturally in plant-based products, certain foods can help stimulate your body’s production of collagen.
For example, a study published in the Lifestyle Medicine Journal reported that your body needs vitamin C to make collagen, which can be found in foods like kale, broccoli, oranges, and strawberries.
In addition to vitamin C, your body also needs zinc to produce collagen. You can find zinc in foods like oysters, oatmeal, lobster, beef liver, cashews, and chickpeas.
It’s common to see companies selling face creams and lotions with collagen as the main ingredient, but dermatologists have proven this to be quite ineffective because the collagen is found in the layers of your skin, not on the surface.
Instead, collagen supplements in pill or powder form are known to help your body fight aging and increase skin elasticity.
According to a study by Nutrients, participants saw a significant improvement in the hydration, elasticity and smoothness of their skin after consuming a liquid collagen supplement for 12 weeks.
“The wrinkle reduction benefits of collagen supplements have been attributed to their ability to stimulate your body to produce more collagen on its own,” says Goodson. “It doesn’t mean that if you take collagen you won’t have wrinkles, but it sure could help! “
For even more healthy tips, read on: