Do Collagen Supplements Really Work?

For years I've sat on the fence about whether taking collagen supplements would have any benefit whatsoever. I leaned towards thinking 'it's just like extra protein, so if your body has enough protein the expensive collagen supplement just gets pooped out' I certainly wasn't under the illusion that the collagen you ingest would magically find its way to your why then did I continue to hear and see anecdotal evidence that collagen supplements did make a difference to appearance?

During an interview with Dr Sandra Kaufmann I asked her opinion, to see if she could convince me one way or another, she is a medical expert and author of 2 books on anti-ageing after all! Sandy is also very interested in skin health and looking youthful with a routine dedicated to this tenet of ageing. 

How does a lack of collagen affect our appearance?

Our bodies gradually make less collagen as we age, but collagen production drops most quickly due to excess sun exposure, smoking, excess alcohol, and lack of sleep and exercise. With ageing, collagen in the deep skin layers changes from a tightly organized network of fibres to an unorganized maze. If there are gaps skin can ‘fall in’ more easily causing wrinkles and losing its plump even appearance. Environmental exposures can exacerbate damage to collagen fibres reducing their thickness and strength, leading to a thinner ‘mattress’ underneath the surface of your skin.

Despite collage being the most abundant protein in our body, the trend of taking collagen supplements has gone through the roof. I guess one of the things that made me skeptical is a throw back from when collagen was included as an ingredient in skincare product. Collagen isn’t even found in the outer layers of your skin, only the deeper layers, so sitting on the surface of your skin is unlikely to do anything and ‘sit there’ was all it could do because collagen fibres are too large to penetrate the skin’s layers. When collage supplements appeared I figured it was a similar fad with no substance or actual benefit.

Sandy did confirm that the collagen you ingest doesn't magically appear as collagen in your skin. 

However, once ingested the collagen breaks down into peptides, dipeptides and amino acids, the building blocks that make up collagen. Once broken down your body is able to use these pieces to remake more collagen within your body and there are studies that suggest supplementing with a dietary collagen does in turn increase your body’s production of collagen. For Sandy, taking a collagen supplement is a must if you are interested in restoring your skin. But it’s not a fast magic pill. Your body will replace collagen first where it most needs it, remembering that collagen is used to make connective tissue and is also a major component of bone, muscles, tendons, and cartilage, so it may be several months before you ‘see’ the difference it makes. On the plus side while you may be waiting to look younger many studies have shown that dietary collagen aids in joint pain, tissue recovery and even sleep and mood, so you may be doing yourself multiple favours!

Needless to say, the day I interviewed Dr Sandra Kaufmann I ordered my collagen supplements – why not do everything I can now I know it has scientific evidence behind the anecdotes I saw. 

*no advice or opinions shared here should replace the advice of your medical professional. We recommend you seek their guidance before adding new supplements to your regime.