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Do Collagen Supplements Really Make A Difference?

01 April 2023

Do Collagen Supplements Really Make A Difference?

As a medical spa based in Singapore, we offer proven collagen-stimulating treatments like radiofrequency energy devices and chemical peels. In addition, many of our clients ask us about the effectiveness of oral collagen supplements and how to naturally increase collagen production.

Common questions include:

‘’Can collagen supplements improve my skin quality?’’

‘’Is marine collagen a good option for me?’’

‘’What are some foods that naturally contain collagen?’’

‘’What’s the difference between collagen supplements and protein powders?’’

‘’As a vegan, what alternatives are there to taking collagen?’’

We understand that the abundance of information and marketing claims surrounding collagen supplements can be overwhelming and confusing. With the increasing popularity of these supplements, we want to provide you with essential information to help you maximize their benefits for your skin and overall health.

What is Collagen?

Collagen is the most bountiful protein in the body and constitutes 80% of our skin. Collagen is an essential scaffold protein that gives smoothness and elasticity to the skin and strong and healthy muscles, bones, and joints. Our bodies produce collagen naturally, but we also get collagen from food and supplements.

Collagen production declines with age. From our early 20s, we lose 1% collagen every year.

After age 50, we lose 30% more collagen. This leads to dry and sagging skin, dull hair, weaker muscles, slower healing ability, and increased signs of ageing in our skin and joints.

What affects the loss of collagen in our bodies?

Several lifestyle habits can accelerate the loss of collagen in our bodies. We commonly refer to these habits as the ‘5 S’s’: Sugar, Stress, Smoke, Sleep, and Sunlight.

Specifically:

  • Eating sugar can result in the loss of skin elasticity due to glycation.
  • Drinking alcohol, which converts to sugar in the body, can lead to glycation.
  • Stress can weaken immunity, increase inflammation, and damage collagen via cortisol.
  • Smoking can cause premature wrinkling through free radical damage.
  • Being sleep-deprived can compromise the body’s repair and rejuvenation processes.
  • Frequent exposure to UV light can lead to DNA changes in the skin, resulting in premature ageing and potentially, skin cancer.”

Why do we need collagen?

Studies have demonstrated that collagen supplements can reduce joint pain and enhance skin elasticity. Who wouldn’t want to rejuvenate ageing skin, improve worn-out joints, and achieve a healthier and more beautiful appearance? That’s why we aim to counteract the natural loss of collagen due to ageing and unhealthy lifestyle habits by incorporating more collagen-rich foods and supplements into our diet.

How much collagen do we need?

The recommended daily dose for collagen peptide supplements is between 2.5g to 15g. These supplements should contain glycine and proline, which are the amino acids responsible for synthesising new collagen.

What forms of collagen work best?

There are two main sources: food and supplements.

Foods that are high in collagen include bone broth (top of the list), meat, and fish, but plant-based sources do not contain collagen.

The most effective collagen supplements are peptides, also known as hydrolyzed collagen, which are derived from cows (bovine), pigs (porcine), or fish (marine). These supplements are water-soluble, easily absorbed into the bloodstream, and can be taken at any time on an empty stomach.

Tip: When shopping for collagen supplements, it’s important to choose high-quality collagen peptides from reputable sources. Look for collagen supplements with vitamin C, which is essential for collagen synthesis. Amazon and iHerb offer a wide range of collagen supplements from various brands.

What about vegetarians and vegans who want to increase collagen?

A practical solution is to focus on increasing protein intake, as collagen is derived from amino acids. Vegan protein powders are widely available on the market and can be a useful source of protein. However, it’s important to note that increasing protein intake may not provide the same direct benefits as consuming animal-derived collagen or collagen supplements.

Note: For vegetarians, vegans, or those with multiple food allergies (e.g., dairy) who are unable to consume protein powders, we offer a liquid form of six essential amino acids in a precise composition of Glycine, L-Alanine, L-Proline, L-Valine, L-Leucine, L-Lysine HCl. This liquid drink generates collagen and elastin, resulting in better hydrated and firmer skin, as well as improved quality of nails and hair, according to studies.

Click here for more info.

Are collagen supplements safe? 

Most studies indicate that they are generally safe, with no reported side effects. However, most studies have only followed participants for up to six months. In some cases, mild gastrointestinal side effects such as bloating and loose stools may occur. Since supplements are not regulated, it is recommended to consult a doctor for advice if you experience any adverse reactions to your collagen supplement.

What is the difference between collagen supplements and protein powders?

The main difference is that collagen is not a complete protein, whereas a protein powder is. A collagen supplement usually has a higher profile of glycine and proline.

Choose which one to take based on your health goals. For example, if your goal is to improve your skin, hair, nails, and joints, then take a collagen supplement. But if your goal is to strengthen and build muscle, take protein powder which contains leucine, isoleucine, and valine.

It’s worth noting that while collagen is not a complete protein, it does contain several essential amino acids, including glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline, that are crucial for building and maintaining various tissues in the body, including skin, bones, and muscles.

It’s always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or are taking any medications.

How can we naturally increase collagen production?

Our conclusion is that collagen supplements are not a magic potion for slowing ageing. However, a good quality collagen supplement can be of value, especially when paired with healthy lifestyle habits.

In summary, focus on healthy lifestyle habits as your game-changer to the fountain of youth.

The seven habits that make the most difference to naturally increasing collagen production:

1. Eat a nutritious diet (containing good sources of collagen and gelatin), and cut down on sugar and alcohol.

2. Ensure that you get enough vitamin C, zinc and copper in your diet or through supplementation.

3. Drink adequate water to stay hydrated and promote skin elasticity. Aim for at least 8 – 10 glasses of water per day.

4. Get quality deep sleep to support tissue repair and collagen synthesis. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night.

5. Do resistance training exercises to build muscle and stimulate collagen production. Incorporate strength training exercises into your workout routine at least 2-3 times per week.

6. Protect your skin from the sun by wearing sunscreen or protective clothing to prevent UV damage that can accelerate collagen loss.

7. Manage stress by finding healthy coping mechanisms such as meditation, exercise, or therapy, as chronic stress can contribute to collagen degradation.

Lastly, be patient, as collagen synthesis takes time. It may take several weeks or even months of consistent healthy habits to see a noticeable improvement in your skin, hair, and joint health.

References:

  • Lee HS, Kim JH, Kim SY, et al. Collagen Supplements for Aging and Wrinkles: A Paradigm Shift in the Fields of Dermatology and Cosmetics. Dermatol Pract Concept. 2022 Feb;12(1):e2022018. doi: 10.5826/dpc.1201a18. PMID: 35608295; PMCID: PMC8724261.
  • Zhang S, Duan E. Skin collagen through the life stages: importance for skin health and beauty. Plast Aesthet Res. 2021 Mar 31;8:2. doi: 10.20517/2347-9264.2020.174. PMID: 33842566; PMCID: PMC8015864.
  • Choi SY, Ko EJ, Lee YH, et al. Oral Collagen Supplementation for Skin Aging: A Fad or Fiction? J Cosmet Dermatol. 2020 Jun;19(6):1374-1380. doi: 10.1111/jocd.13458. Epub 2020 May 8. PMID: 32383184.
  • Yoon HS, Kim J, Lee JS, et al. Effects of hydrolyzed collagen supplementation on skin aging: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Int J Dermatol. 2021 Jul;60(7):856-866. doi: 10.1111/ijd.15385. Epub 2021 Mar 15. PMID: 33719277.
  • Ramamurthy N, Nadiminti V. Myths and media in oral collagen supplementation for the skin, nails, and hair: A review. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2022 Jan;21(1):22-30. doi: 10.1111/jocd.14589. Epub 2021 Jun 8. PMID: 34096348.
  • Carrasco-Pozo C, Álvarez-Rivera G, Castillo RL. Understanding aesthetic interest in oral collagen peptides: A 5-year national assessment. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2021 Aug;20(8):2193-2198. doi: 10.1111/jocd.14051. Epub 2020 Oct 2. PMID: 32996283.

 

 

 

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