If you’ve ever done a quick Google search on how to thicken your hair, improve your skin, or even help with arthritis pain, it’s likely that collagen supplements popped up.
Collagen, the most prevalent protein in the human body, forms a type of tissue that helps comprise bone, skin, muscles, tendons, and cartilage. It helps keep your joints healthy and your skin elastic.
The human body makes collagen naturally, but this production can decline with age. Collagen is also reduced by smoking, excess sun exposure and alcohol, and stress. Therefore, proponents of collagen supplements suggest the product will help your joints and skin.
While there are some limited studies that suggest collagen supplements may help with skin hydration and elasticity and joint pain, the body of research is simply not developed enough to promote collagen supplements. Problematically, many of these studies are sponsored by or tied to organizations that would financially benefit from positive study results. Overall, the FDA does not test supplements for safety, and one independent review found heavy metals present in a particular brand of supplement.
While the available research is inconclusive, it has not turned up evidence to deter anyone from taking collagen supplements. There are, however, steps you can take to boost your own collagen production. Eating foods like eggs, dairy products, legumes, fruits, some nuts, and vegetables will provide your body the building blocks to make collagen. Reducing stress, excess exposure, and caffeine and alcohol intake will help slow the loss of collagen you already have.
Oral supplementation of specific collagen peptides has beneficial effects on human skin physiology: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study – PubMed (nih.gov)
Collagen | The Nutrition Source | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Health Benefits of Collagen: Pros and Cons, Nutrition, and More (webmd.com)