One of the most popular supplements today is collagen products. According to the commercial research company Grand View Search, the collagen market was valued at $ 8.36 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow 9% per year through 2028.
Among the countless protein pills and powders available, how do you find the best quality collagen supplement to keep your skin smooth and supple? Here’s what you need to know.
What is collagen?
It is safe to say that collagen plays a vital role in health and wellness because it essentially keeps the body together.
“Collagen is a protein that exists in the connective tissue of the body and in its extracellular matrix, which is essentially a network that provides structural support to the tissues of the body,” explains Amy Gorine, MS, RDN, herbal dietitian and owner of Plant based foods in Stamford, Connecticut.
According to the manual Molecular cell biology, collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. And although there are at least 16 types of this protein, almost 90% of the collagen inside us is divided into three categories: Type I, II and III.
Gorin explains that type I collagen is found in most connective tissue along with bones, ligaments, tendons, and skin. “Type II collagen is found primarily in cartilage, and type III collagen is found in the skin, lungs, blood vessel walls, and intestinal walls,” she continues.
As we age, the body’s ability to replenish collagen slowly declines and this lack of elasticity can eventually lead to common signs of aging, such as fine lines, wrinkles, sagging skin, and weakened joints. Poor lifestyle habits, including chronic sun exposure, excessive alcohol consumption, insufficient sleep and lack of exercise can all help reduce collagen synthesis, according to Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.
What Are the Health Benefits of Taking Collagen Supplements?
For starters, Gorin points out that collagen production can occur by placing certain foods on your plate, including bone broth and meat with connective tissue (like breast and chuck). “In addition, your body can naturally create collagen when it combines amino acids in food with vitamin C, copper and zinc,” she adds.
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However, some evidence indicates that there are possible benefits to supplementation. A preliminary study published in the journal Nutritional research has shown that taking a daily oral collagen supplement can lead to enhanced hydration and elasticity of the skin, said Gorin. Separate research carried out in Germany found that women aged 35 and older who received a collagen product for three months were likely to have thicker, more hydrated, and less rough skin.
Also, in a 12 week study which focused on young athletes with functional knee problems, volunteers who were instructed to consume 5 grams of a collagen supplement each day reported “statistically significant improvement” in joint pain. “And other research shows that it can be helpful in managing the symptoms of osteoarthritis, ”says Gorin.
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What is the worst type of collagen supplement to take?
“When you choose a collagen supplement, not all are created equal,” says Julie Upton, MS, RD, CSSD, co-founder of Appetite for Health, a nutritional communications consultancy. “Some people take gelatin as a way to get their collagen, but it would be considered the worst way to consume collagen.”
The reason: collagen products are made by eextract the collagen-rich tissues of animals, including chickens, cows and fish. Gelatin is formed by cooking or boiling collagen, a process called partially hydrolyzed.
“As the basis of hair, skin, and nails, you would want your collagen to come in the form of collagen peptides, which are more absorbable and usable by the body,” she continues. These products are fully hydrolyzed (i.e. less processed), making them highly digestible and soluble in hot and cold liquids.
At the end of the line
Before purchasing a collagen supplement, Gorin advises reading the nutrition label looking for that dreaded “s” word. “I wouldn’t recommend a collagen powder that contains added sugars or sugar alcohols,” she says. “Instead, naturally sweeten a collagen drink with unsweetened cocoa powder or cinnamon.”
Upton strongly suggests going with a product that has undergone third-party testing to ensure safety and effectiveness. “It’s also wise to find a collagen formula that provides other essential nutrients for healthy hair, skin and nails,” she says. “I appreciate Life Collagen Plus Hair, Skin & Nails Extension because it combines collagen peptides with solubilized keratin and biotin, in addition to being a reputable supplement brand. “
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