Collagen supplements have gained popularity in recent years as a way to improve skin, hair, nails, and joint health, with some even claiming that it can slow down the aging process. However, the effectiveness of collagen supplements is a topic of debate among the scientific community. But what does the current research says about the use of collagen supplements?
Collagen is a type of protein that is found in the body, especially in the skin, hair, nails, and joints, and is important for the health and appearance of these areas of the body.
In the skin, collagen provides structure, support and elasticity, giving skin its firmness and strength. As we age, our body’s natural collagen production decreases, leading to wrinkles, fine lines, and weaker joints. This is one of the reasons why skin loses its firmness and elasticity with age.
Collagen provides strength in hairs and nails and structure in joints, it also helps to form cartilage, which acts as a cushion between the bones, providing support and reducing friction.
A recent systematic review published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in 2017, analyzed the existing research on collagen supplements and found that while there is some evidence to support the use of collagen supplements for improving skin, hair, and nail health, more research is needed to confirm these findings and to determine the optimal dosage and duration of use.
The study found that taking collagen supplement for eight weeks led to a slight improvement in skin elasticity and hydration. Another study, published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition in 2017, found that taking collagen supplement for 12 weeks improved joint pain in athletes, but again, more research is needed to confirm these findings.
However, the studies conducted on collagen supplements have been small, and more research is needed to determine the long-term effectiveness of these supplements. The study also concluded that there is no evidence to support the anti-aging effects of collagen supplements as claimed by some manufacturers.
Collagen supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and there is no guarantee that the products contain what they claim. There are some risks associated with taking collagen supplements such as:
- Allergic reactions: Collagen supplements are often derived from animal sources, such as bovine or fish, and individuals with allergies or sensitivities to these sources may experience allergic reactions.
- Interactions with medications: Collagen supplements may interact with blood thinning medications such as Warfarin, and individuals taking these medications should be cautious before taking collagen supplements and should consult their healthcare professional.
- Quality and purity: As collagen supplements are not regulated by the FDA, there is no guarantee that the products contain what they claim. Some products may contain contaminants such as heavy metals, bacteria, or other harmful substances.
- Lack of standardization: Collagen supplements come in different forms such as capsules, powders, and drinks, and the dosage and duration of use can vary from product to product, which can make it difficult to determine the optimal dosage and duration of use.
The current scientific evidence regarding the effectiveness of collagen supplements is limited therefore it is not advisable to take it. More research is needed to determine the optimal dosage and duration of use, and to confirm the claims about its the anti-aging effects. However, if an individual still chooses to take them, it’s important to be aware of the risk, and to consult with a healthcare professional.
About The Author
Dr. Coco is a highly-educated and well-qualified primary care physician who graduated from the University of the Philippines Baguio with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and her Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center. She completed her three-year residency training in Family Medicine at Brokenshire Medical Center. She passed her diplomate exams in Family Medicine, given by the Philippine Academy of Family Physicians in 2018.
Dr. Coco is dedicated to providing comprehensive and holistic care for her patients. She is a primary care physician who believes in delivering continuing comprehensive health care for all. To her, patients are not just a number as she takes time to analyse how she can improve their overall health every chance they can get.