The beauty world is buzzing about collagen. Influencers are pushing its use via social media platforms, mainly promoting the supplement’s ability to enhance hair, skin, and nails. Nowadays we are bombarded with a tremendous amount of health and beauty supplements. With so many products that line store shelves, it’s enough to make our heads spin. There are liquids, pills, powders, gummies, and creams. How do we know what to take? Should we all be taking collagen? And are people not taking collagen missing out? These are legitimate questions.
Collagen is a naturally occurring protein in the body that performs an important role in forming the structural framework of cells and tissues. In addition to providing support for skin, bones, and connective tissue, it is involved in important processes needed for tissue repair and maintenance. There are different types of collagen found in the body, but the most common are types I, II, and III which make up a substantial part of what’s in the body. Most supplements contain types I & III. Unfortunately, with aging, bodies produce less and less collagen. For this reason, people take supplements to make up for what’s lost and to increase natural production.
There are three main forms of collagen available in stores. They include bovine, marine, and vegan. Bovine collagen comes primarily from cow bones, whereas marine collagen is derived from fish skins. While vegan is not technically collagen, it contains ingredients designed to help stimulate and boost one’s own collagen production. Marine collagen is believed to have a higher absorption rate than the other two, but that largely depends upon the purity of the source and its digestibility. Currently, there are claims that bovine collagen is essentially the most potent and effective when hydrolyzed so that it’s easier for bodies to absorb. Collagen is naturally found in protein sources like meats and has been added to foods like peanut butter. Whether taking collagen as a supplement works is under debate, with further studies needed to determine the effects on the body when taken orally.
Collagen is largely marketed to address age-related issues such as wrinkles and skin dehydration. So, it’s no surprise that most people who take collagen do so for beauty purposes. However, there may be additional benefits beyond those described. Some recent studies show the potential for collagen to reduce osteoarthritis pain, increase muscle mass, and improve heart health, with further studies needed. Though generally considered safe, as with most supplements, there are potential risks associated with use. For example, in some individuals and depending upon the source, collagen supplements may cause digestive discomforts including bloating, constipation, or diarrhea. Additionally, collagen may react with other medications, for example, blood thinners, which could potentially put some people at risk.
While collagen is likely safe for most people to use, and it may be deemed beneficial for many, it is best to dialogue with a medical professional to evaluate the safety, uses for, and possible side effects of the supplement. Because collagen is a dietary supplement, it is not regulated by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Additionally, not all supplements are made equally. Some may contain artificial ingredients, sugars, and other unhealthy ingredients. Thus, it’s important to do the homework to understand ingredients, sources, and manufacturing methods, and strictly buy from a trusted maker. Because choosing supplements is a complex matter, and there are some possible risks associated with the use of them, it is vital for patients to seek advice from a physician before embarking on a collagen or other supplement journey.
Note: This article is for general purposes only and is not intended as medical advice.