Is Collagen Effective as a Beauty Supplement?

All the stores have collagen protein supplements and/or beverages. Collagen is indeed hot and if you haven’t tried it, by most accounts it can help support youthful skin. Beginning in your mid-20s, according to one source, collagen production starts to slow down. In women, collagen production can decline up to 30% in the first five years of menopause.


In this past year, according to market research firm ClearCut Analytics, sales of collagen supplement products grew 63% -- this means that users are loyal. Loyalty only comes when something is working as promised. 


Collagen is a critical component in skin. The other two primary structural components are elastin and glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). Skin aging is caused by several contributing factors such as sun exposure, environmental pollution, chronic inflammation, poor diet, smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption. Even if you follow a healthy diet, and don’t drink or smoke or go out in the sun without sunscreen – time itself will slow your collagen production. 


The skin contains type I and III collagen (cartilage, meanwhile, contains type II and III collagen). Collagen fibers provide tensile strength to skin and cartilage. Hydrolyzed collagen is abundant in amino acids such as glycine and proline, and, according to one source, after digestion it accumulates in the cartilage or skin and helps maintain stability or regeneration.


Researchers explained in one paper, “It is known that the aging process of the skin is closely related to the molecular metabolism and the modifications of the extracellular matrix in the dermis, resulting in the modification of the structure and functionality of the collagen fibers, elastin and hyaluronic acid.”


Collagen supplements and beverages are aimed at helping to reduce the aging appearance of skin. These products consist of collagen peptides, which are high in content of the amino acids proline, glycine, and hydroxyproline. Upon digestion, these peptides are broken down into di‐ and tri‐peptides, which are used by the body as building blocks for proteins, such as collagen. 


In one published study of two investigations of collagen’s activity on skin structure, 66 women aged 40‐59 years old consumed either 10 g of collagen or placebo for 56 consecutive days. The results showed a statistically significant increase in skin moisture for the collagen group. In the second part of the study,106 women aged 40‐65 years old, also consumed either 10 g of collagen or placebo for 84 days. After 12 weeks, tests showed that those in the supplement group had significantly greater collagen density in their skin than women who consumed the placebo.


In another double‐blind, randomized, placebo‐controlled trial researchers studied the effects of low‐molecular‐weight collagen peptide on skin hydration, wrinkling, and elasticity. In the study, 64 women aged 40‐60 years old consumed with either 1000 mg of the collagen supplement or placebo daily for 12 weeks. After 6 and 12 weeks, there were significant increases in skin hydration in the collagen supplement group compared to placebo. Three parameters of skin wrinkling (average roughness, skin roughness, smoothness depth) were significantly higher in the collagen supplement group. 


In another study, 69 women aged 35‐55 years old were randomly placed into one of four groups: 2.5 g of collagen hydrolysate (CH), 5.0 g of CH, 2.5 g of placebo, and 5.0 g of placebo. Supplements were taken daily for 8 weeks. At the end of the study, both collagen supplement groups demonstrated a statistically significant increase in skin elasticity compared to the placebo groups. After 4 weeks of follow‐up treatment, a statistically significant increase in skin elasticity was seen in older women. This study also observed positive correlations between collagen supplementation and both skin moisture and skin evaporation.


Another randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial compared the clinical effects of collagen supplementation (composed of the bioactive dipeptides, prolyl‐hydroxyproline and hydroxyprolyl‐glycine) in 85 women aged 35‐55 years old, who consumed higher content of the collagen peptides, lower content of the collagen peptides, or placebo for 8 weeks. The results showed significantly greater skin moisture of the cheek and canthus (the corner where both eyelids meet). Additionally, the higher collagen content group showed significant and more improvement than both the lower content group and placebo in measurements of skin moisture, elasticity, and wrinkles and roughness.


A review and meta-analysis of studies investigating collagen and skin health parameters found that “All of the included studies reported beneficial effects of intact or hydrolyzed collagen on skin health parameters including moisture, elasticity, wrinkle number, dryness, and the modified Rodnan skin score.”


Meanwhile, according to the review authors, there may be three mechanisms of action of how collagen supplementation supports skin health: “collagen fragments can be a precursor for collagen synthesis in the skin; collagen fragments can stimulate collagen

and proteoglycans production in the skin; and collagen and its fragments can increase skin turnover by induction of regulatory T cells and M2 macrophages.”


Another review and meta-analysis of 19 studies with 1,125 participants aged 20 to 70 years old (95% women) who supplemented with hydrolyzed collagen found favorable results on skin. According to the researchers, compared to those taking placebo, the collage supplement groups enjoyed better skin hydration, elasticity and reduced appearance of wrinkles. Additionally, based on the results, the authors declared that consuming “hydrolyzed collagen for 90 days is effective in reducing skin aging, as it reduces wrinkles and improves skin elasticity and hydration.”


Researchers evaluated and compared effects of different doses of collagen peptide with or without vitamin C supplementation on skin for 12 weeks. In the study, 32 women took either no supplement, collagen 3 g, collagen 3 g plus vitamin C 500 mg, or vitamin C 500 mg only daily for 12 weeks. Skin properties that were evaluated were water loss (known as transpidermal water loss or TEWL), hydration, and elasticity. The results showed that supplementation with collagen improved elasticity and skin hydration but intake of vitamin C did not have any enhancement effects. The authors concluded that daily consumption of collagen can create a clinically measurable improvement in the depth of facial wrinkles, hydration and skin elasticity.


Conclusion

There are many collagen supplements to choose from, many of which are powders. According to consumerssurvey.org, consumers rated the following as preferred brands:  Live Conscious Collagen Peptides, Essential Elements Collagen Peptides, Ancient Nutrition Multi Collagen Protein, Super Youth Collagen Powder by SkinnyFit and Foundation Beuaty Elixir by Hair La Vie. Of course, there are many others to choose from.


The evidence supporting collagen supplementation for preserving youthful skin structure is pretty strong. The sooner you start using a collagen product, the longer you may be able to enjoy some beautiful benefits!



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