Moving forward, researchers undertook a randomized controlled trial (RCT) in order to evaluate the potency of collagen peptides . Recruited participants were randomly assigned to ingest either oral liquid supplements containing collagen peptides (50 ml) or placebo daily for 12 weeks . No noteworthy dissimilarity in skin elasticity was noticed between the 2 arms (Table 1). However, in the subgroup analysis, the authors noticed that study participants who underwent cosmetic surgeries in the treatment group showed improvement in skin elasticity, as opposed to their counterparts, who showed no improvement. At the completion of the study, participants in the therapeutic arm achieved higher marks in some skin parameters like hydration and elasticity .
In another RCT, women were allocated to 4 different arms . The first arm received 2.5 grams of collagen hydrolysate, the second arm was given 5.0 grams of collagen hydrolysate, the third arm received 2.5 grams of a placebo, and the fourth arm was given 5.0 grams of placebo . Participants were followed for around 60 days, and it was found that each treatment arm with a different dose of collagen hydrolysate showed a statistically noteworthy rise in the elasticity of the skin when juxtaposed with their counterparts in 2 placebo groups. Improvement in elasticity was noticed among elderly women relatively earlier (ie, at 1-month follow-up) . Furthermore, a positive correlation was observed between treatment with collagen hydrolysate and skin moisture and evaporation, with statistically insignificant results .
Another double-blinded RCT was undertaken to assess the collagen (with low molecular weight) effects on the elasticity of the skin elasticity, hydration, and finally wrinkling . This study was conducted with Korean women at least 40 years old (n = 64) who were randomized to 1000 mg of collagen or to placebo every day for 3 months . The authors found noteworthy elevations in skin hydration in the treatment arm even at 6 weeks of follow-up when compared to the placebo group. Furthermore, different parameters of skin wrinkling (all 3 parameters) and skin elasticity (1/3 parameters) were notably elevated in the treatment arm when compared with the placebo group, as shown in Table 1 .
Similarly, Campos et al evaluated the consequences of topical and oral collagen additions in the skin enhancement of 60 healthy female subjects. The findings showed that females who were given a topical product demonstrated a substantial rise in skin hydration and elasticity at the end of 1 month. On the other hand, the group with oral supplementation showed more noticeable results in dermal echogenicity and decreasing pore size at the end of 3 months without any adverse effects . Another study demonstrated that those patients who received topical treatment showed a noteworthy depletion in the total wrinkle surface, number of wrinkles, and average wrinkle length and depth were observed in comparison with those who underwent placebo.
Importance: The use of nutraceuticals such as collagen for skincare has been rising, but regulations are lacking on quality, absorption, and efficacy. To address this knowledge gap, clinical studies regarding the potential effects of collagen-based dietary supplements on skin are being completed. Objective: To review the literature and assess available randomized-controlled trials using collagen supplementation for treatment efficacy regarding skin quality, anti-aging benefits, and potential application in medical dermatology. Evidence Review: A literature search was conducted with PubMed using search criteria (collagen) AND (supplement OR food OR nutrition). No lower limit on the year of publication was set. Inclusion criteria were: randomized, placebo-controlled trials using collagen supplementation in human subjects related to dermatology and written in English. Findings: Eleven studies with a total of 805 patients were included for review. Eight studies used collagen hydrolysate, 2.5g/d to 10g/d, for 8 to 24 weeks, for the treatment of pressure ulcers, xerosis, skin aging, and cellulite. Two studies used collagen tripeptide, 3g/d for 4 to 12 weeks, with notable improvement in skin elasticity and hydration. Lastly, one study using collagen dipeptide suggested anti-aging efficacy is proportionate to collagen dipeptide content. Conclusions and Relevance: Preliminary results are promising for the short and long-term use of oral collagen supplements for wound healing and skin aging. Oral collagen supplements also increase skin elasticity, hydration, and dermal collagen density. Collagen supplementation is generally safe with no reported adverse events. Further studies are needed to elucidate medical use in skin barrier diseases such as atopic dermatitis and to determine optimal dosing regimens. J Drugs Dermatol. 2019;18(1):9-16.
In food, collagen is naturally found only in animal flesh like meat and fish that contain connective tissue. However, a variety of both animal and plant foods contain materials for collagen production in our own bodies.
Oral collagen supplements in the form of pills, powders, and certain foods are believed to be more effectively absorbed by the body and have skyrocketed in popularity among consumers. They may be sold as collagen peptides or hydrolyzed collagen, which are broken down forms of collagen that are more easily absorbed. Collagen supplements contain amino acids, the building blocks of protein, and some may also contain additional nutrients related to healthy skin and hair like vitamin C, biotin, or zinc.
Most research on collagen supplements is related to joint and skin health. Human studies are lacking but some randomized controlled trials have found that collagen supplements improve skin elasticity. [3,4] Other trials have found that the supplements can improve joint mobility and decrease joint pain such as with osteoarthritis or in athletes.  Collagen comprises about 60% of cartilage, a very firm tissue that surrounds bones and cushions them from the shock of high-impact movements; so a breakdown in collagen could lead to a loss of cartilage and joint problems.
However, potential conflicts of interest exist in this area because most if not all of the research on collagen supplements are funded or partially funded by related industries that could benefit from a positive study result, or one or more of the study authors have ties to those industries. This makes it difficult to determine how effective collagen supplements truly are and if they are worth their often hefty price.
A downside of collagen supplements is the unknown of what exactly it contains or if the supplement will do what the label promotes. There are also concerns of collagen supplements containing heavy metals. In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration does not review supplements for safety or effectiveness before they are sold to consumers.
Another potential downside is that taking a collagen supplement can become an excuse to not practice healthy behaviors that can protect against collagen decline, such as getting enough sleep and stopping smoking.
There is a lack of research to show that eating collagen can directly benefit skin or joint health. When digested in the stomach, collagen is broken down into amino acids, which are then distributed wherever the body most needs protein. Still, many foods that support collagen production are generally recommended as part of a healthful eating plan.
At this time, non-industry funded research on collagen supplements is lacking. Natural collagen production is supported through a healthy and balanced diet by eating enough protein foods, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables and reducing lifestyle risk factors.
Besides time, three main things will lower your collagen levels: sunlight, smoking, and sugar. Too much exposure to ultraviolet light makes its fibers unravel. This can lead to sun damage, such as wrinkles. Many of the chemicals in cigarette smoke can damage it, which can make skin sag and wrinkle. Sugar causes the fibers to cross-link and tangle. This makes your skin less elastic over time.
You can help your body make more collagen by eating healthy foods. To make it, your body puts together amino acids called glycine and proline. You find these acids in high-protein foods such as chicken, fish, beef, eggs, dairy, and beans. Other nutrients, like vitamin C, zinc, and copper, also play a part. You can get vitamin C in citrus fruits, tomatoes, and leafy greens. For zinc and copper, try shellfish, nuts, whole grains, and beans.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body. You can increase your intake of collagen by taking supplements or eating animal foods and bone broth. However, absorption from food may not be as efficient as from supplements.
These supplements may work by stimulating your body to produce collagen on its own. Additionally, collagen supplements may promote the production of other proteins that help structure your skin, including elastin and fibrillin (6).
Researchers have theorized that supplemental collagen may accumulate in cartilage and stimulate your tissues to make collagen. In turn, this may lead to lower inflammation, better joint support, and reduced pain (10).
Just as the collagen in your body deteriorates with age, so does bone mass. This may lead to conditions such as osteoporosis, which is characterized by low bone density and a higher risk of bone fractures (12).
Vegan collagen can be made from genetically modified yeast and bacteria. To do so, four human genes that code for collagen are added to the genetic structure of these sources, which then generate their own collagen.
Autumn is an editor, dietitian, registered yoga teacher, and certified intuitive eating counselor who specializes in myth-busting and providing a nuanced, wellbeing-centered perspective on nutrition, movement, mindfulness, and dietary supplements. She is the co-founder of mendinground nutrition & yoga, a private practice focused on helping people heal their relationships with food and their bodies. 59ce067264