Is collagen worth the hype? Let's ask our good friend and functional nutritionist Pauline Cox.
Meet Pauline Cox; functional therapist, author and collagen super fan!
We teamed up with Pauline to discuss the rising popularity of collagen supplementation and where the research stands in terms of the potential benefits of taking collagen.
Read on for an exclusive evidence-based insight into all things collagen, with our guest post by Pauline herself.
"Collagen has been part of my daily routine for over 10 years"
As a woman in my forties, I am always looking for ways to optimise my skin health and appearance, increase hair thickness, bone health and overall wellbeing.
My daily staples for skin health include a high-quality omega-3 fatty acid, zinc, magnesium complex and for the last ten years, a daily scoop of collagen peptides.
Collagen supplementation is a hot topic at the moment and much of the large-scale research conducted has focused on the impact collagen can have on skin health and appearance (1).
Whilst other benefits may exist, such as the potential improvements in bone density in post-menopausal women (2) and possible improvements in muscle mass in age-related muscle loss (3), it is dermatological research that offers the most robust and current findings.
"Collagen is the cornerstone protein in skin that determines a great deal of skin's visual characteristics"
Collagen, like many other proteins in the body, is in a constant state of turnover, meaning our body is continuously making more to replace collagen that has been degraded.
Skin experiences an age-dependent collagen loss, which sees a reduction in elasticity, plumpness, smoothness and an increase in the number of wrinkles. Age-dependent collagen loss is accelerated by a number of factors, including nutrient-deficiency, alcohol intake, chronic stress, sunlight, smoking and environmental pollution.
Whilst many individuals choose topically applied products to reduce the physical sign of skin aging, there remains uncertainty at the ability of these products to penetrate to the deeper dermal layer of the skin where fibroblast, the cells responsible for making collagen, are found.
"When oral collagen peptides are ingested, they are brown down further into bioactive di- and try-peptides in the gastrointestinal tract and absorbed into the bloodstream"
The peptides accumulate in the skin, increasing dermal collagen density, skin elasticity and skin hydration.
A recent systematic review of oral supplementation of collagen, which included 11 studies, suggested that collagen supplementation was safe, had no adverse effects and positively affected skin ageing (4).
The structure of collagen is similar to rope, with sections of the rope being formed from individual fibrils. This gives collagen, like rope, great tensile strength.
These fibrils are made from three primary amino acids, proline, glycine and hydroxyproline which are all amino acids found in high concentration in bovine collagen peptides.
Whilst we can eat more of the foods that offer the building blocks to make more protein, the di- and tri-peptides resulting from ingesting oral collagen appear to stimulate the fibroblasts, the cells responsible for making collagen, into increasing collagen formation directly.
"The jury is out on how much collagen to take"
Quantities vary in each study, however in one study subjects saw an improvement in levels of skin moisture and collagen density compared to placebo following 56 days of a daily intake of 10g of collagen peptide powder (6).
In other research, a decrease in skin waviness on thighs and cellulite reduction was seen following 180 days of 2.5g of collagen peptide intake (7).
Since no adverse effects for collagen have been identified, two tablespoons, equating to 10g, seems an appropriate daily amount.
"Not all collagen supplements are created equal"
The two main forms of commercially available collagen are bovine and marine collagen. Bovine collagen is extracted from the hide of cows whilst marine collagen is formed from extracting the collagen from the bones, scales and skin of fish.
Hydrolysis is a form of extraction that increases the bioavailability of the collagen without the use of harsh solvents or chemicals. The less chemical use the better!
Marine collagen is primarily of type 1 collagen with bovine made from both type 1 and type 3 collagen and tends to be more affordable than marine collagen.
There is some suggestion that marine collagen may be easier to absorb, however much of the research into the benefits of collagen supplements have been conducted with bovine collagen, which is bioavailable and absorbed well by the body.
Liquid collagen is collagen (either marine or bovine) suspended in water. The research indicates that this form of collagen may also be beneficial, however there is less research on this form of collagen than there is with pure collagen peptide powders.
My Personal Collagen Peptides Recommendation
They are 100% hydrolysed collagen peptides, for maximum absorption and benefits in the body - as evidenced by those studies mentioned.
"Simply add two tablespoons of collagen peptides to a morning smoothie, mix with yoghurt or even add to a cooked meal. You can even add it to your morning coffee!"
I add a serving of collagen to my morning coffee, as well as healthy recipes throughout the day - as they're neutral in flavour they're extremely versatile.
"There are no known risks to taking collagen peptides"
Collagen supplementation is safe, with no known side effects. You would only need to avoid collagen if you have an allergy to any of the ingredients. Of course, if you have a serious health condition such as cancer, always check with your oncologist or doctor.
More from Pauline Cox...
📚 Pauline’s New Book, Hungry Woman, eating for health, happiness and hormones, can be pre-ordered here.
✍️ You can also order tickets to the Hungry Woman Book Launch Event right now, to meet Pauline in person and grab a signed copy of the book.
🎟️ Tickets are available at limited availability so be sure to grab yours whilst you still can!
- Bolke L, Schlippe G, Gerß J, Voss W. A Collagen Supplement Improves Skin Hydration, Elasticity, Roughness, and Density: Results of a Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Blind Study. Nutrients. 2019 Oct 17;11(10):2494. doi: 10.3390/nu11102494. PMID: 31627309; PMCID: PMC6835901.
- König D, Oesser S, Scharla S, Zdzieblik D, Gollhofer A. Specific Collagen Peptides Improve Bone Mineral Density and Bone Markers in Postmenopausal Women-A Randomized Controlled Study. Nutrients. 2018 Jan 16;10(1):97. doi: 10.3390/nu10010097. PMID: 29337906; PMCID: PMC5793325.
- Zdzieblik D, Oesser S, Baumstark MW, Gollhofer A, König D. Collagen peptide supplementation in combination with resistance training improves body composition and increases muscle strength in elderly sarcopenic men: a randomised controlled trial. Br J Nutr. 2015 Oct 28;114(8):1237-45. doi: 10.1017/S0007114515002810. Epub 2015 Sep 10. PMID: 26353786; PMCID: PMC4594048
- Choi FD, Sung CT, Juhasz ML, Mesinkovsk NA. Oral Collagen Supplementation: A Systematic Review of Dermatological Applications. J Drugs Dermatol. 2019 Jan 1;18(1):9-16. PMID: 30681787.
- Asserin J., Lati E., Shioya T., Prawitt J. The Effect of Oral Collagen Peptide Supplementation on Skin Moisture and the Dermal Collagen Network: Evidence from An Ex Vivo Model and Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trials. Cosmet. Dermatol. 2015;14:291–301. doi: 10.1111/jocd.12174
- Inoue N., Sugihara F., Wang X. Ingestion of Bioactive Collagen Hydrolysates Enhance Facial Skin Moisture and Elasticity and Reduce Facial Ageing Signs in A Randomised Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Study. Sci. Food Agric. 2016;96:4077–4081. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.7606
All information provided on our website and within our articles is simply information, opinion, anecdotal thoughts and experiences to provide you with the tools to thrive.
It is not intended to treat or diagnose symptoms and is definitely not intended to be misconstrued for medical advice. We always advise you seek the advice of a trained professional when implementing any changes to your lifestyle and dietary habits.
We do however recommend seeking the services of a trained professional who questions the conventional wisdom to enable you to become the best version of yourself.