Collagen is a type of protein that our body produces, BUT as we age, our body produces less. Why would anyone care about collagen? It helps maintain our skin, hair, bones/joints and more. It can even promote gut health.
Collagen supplements, skin care products with collagen and bone broth have become more and more popular, as we all try to halt the dreaded aging process. These products can be pricey, so are they worth it? Does supplemental collagen work as well as the collagen that our body produces?
In short, there is not enough research to say for sure. The idea is that once we consume collagen or put it on our skin, our bodies will absorb it and use it to maintain skin, hair, bones/joints and gut health, as above. Unfortunately, it may not work that way. The absorption of oral or topical collagen may not be enough to produce significant results. Research does not suggest that supplemental collagen will hurt you, though (except maybe hurting your bank account – supplements can be expensive!).
A balanced diet can help promote our bodies’ natural collagen production. Wellness always seems to come back to a balanced diet – weird, right? But really, a balanced diet provides the building blocks that our bodies need to make collagen, though production will undeniably slow with age (but hey, we all age eventually).
To summarize, the benefits of collagen are true, but the collagen supplements and products on the market may not work as well as we would like them to. If you do decide to buy a collagen product and try it out, do some research first, as these products are not always regulated well. Some are more evidence based than others, though, so talk with a dietitian if you’re interested. If you experience better skin or improved gut health from a collagen product, that’s awesome (yay!), but it likely will not be a magical fix like we all wish!