Collagen is the main structural protein in the human body and a building block for skin, joints, bones and other connective tissues. We produce less and break down more collagen as we age and we also destroy some of it due to various lifestyle and environmental factors such as smoking, drinking, poor diet, stressing and UV exposure. Enter the Collagen Supplement.
Studies have found that we can boost our collagen levels by eating collagen-rich foods such as bone broth or by a regular intake of either gelatin or collagen peptides based supplements. As a result, the health food market has been flooded with various collagen powders.
Don’t be fooled though, not all collagen supplements are the same and while some of them will give you the best results, others might just give you stomach cramps and skin breakouts. So how do you choose the right one for you? Here’s our guideline.
What is the best collagen supplement?
Here are a few things to consider when determining the best Collagen Supplement to take.
Specific bioactive collagen peptides
It is important to ensure your Collagen Supplement contains a determined amount or blend of specific bioactive collagen peptides. The collagen molecule is too large to get efficiently absorbed in our tissues and the best collagen supplement with the highest digestibility and bioavailability will contain specific bioactive peptides (hydrolysates).
Bioactive collagen peptides are essentially collagen chains hydrolysed to smaller particles (peptides) with a use of enzymes. This process makes the collagen more digestible. Different peptide combinations (amino-acid blends) target different tissues and they also activate the expression of the collagen–synthesising genes in three major tissue types- skin, joints and bones.
Not all available collagen peptide products on the market provide trial–based data for their individual peptide blends and they may not deliver adequate amounts required to increase gene expression of the collagen synthesising genes in the relevant tissue.
Gelatin is a partially hydrolysed collagen with lower bioavailability than collagen peptides. Studies indicate between 60% to 85% bioavailability of gelatin and over 95% for collagen peptides. Unlike collagen peptides, gelatin is produced under a heat and it has different properties. While collagen peptides powder is fully dissolvable in any hot or cold liquid, gelatin gels require hot water. While collagen doesn’t functionally add anything to your cooking, gelatin can be used as a thickener or to make desserts such as jello.
Vitamin C is the key cofactor for the two enzymes required for collagen synthesis: prolyl hydroxylase (to stabilize the collagen molecule) and lysyl hydroxylase (to give structural strength cross-linking).
A good collagen supplement will contain a significant amount or vitamin C from either natural sources (i.e. Camu Camu) or in the form of ascorbic acid.
How much collagen should the best supplement contain?
You will need at least 2.5g (2500mg) of bovine or 5g (5000mg) of marine collagen per day to achieve significant skin improvements and double that for bone density as well as for ligament and tendon strength and healing. When you are choosing your collagen supplement, don’t look at the number of serves, as some products only offer 2g of collagen per serve or less. Look at the total amount of collagen per box then divide it by 2.5g-15g (depending on your required outcome) to see how many doses there actually are in the product.
What will the best collagen supplement NOT contain?
Sugar is the number one enemy of collagen! Sugar in the bloodstream attaches to collagen and elastin molecules via the glycation process, forming harmful new molecules called ‘advanced glycation end products’ (AGE’s). The more sugar you eat, the more AGE’s you develop, and the more collagen and elastin fibres get damaged. The glycation process also transforms the most stable and long-lasting collagen fibres to more fragile fibres. This is one of the main reasons sugar makes us age on both the inside and outside. Too many AGE’s causes the skin to wrinkle, negatively impacts the biomechanical properties of tendons and leads to gut issues (due to damage caused to the intestinal lining resulting in inflammation).
Products to try
Collagen Protein Powder
Collagen Protein Bars
Aguirre A, Gil-Quintana E, Fenaux M, Erdozain S, Sarria I. Beneficial Effects of Oral Supplementation With Ovoderm on Human Skin Physiology: Two Pilot Studies.J Diet Suppl. 2017 Nov 2;14(6):706-714. doi: 10.1080/19390211.2017.1310781. Epub 2017 Apr 21. PMID: 28429999.
Araújo LA, Addor F, Campos PM. Use of silicon for skin and hair care: an approach of chemical forms available and efficacy. An Bras Dermatol. 2016 May-Jun;91(3):331-5. doi: 10.1590/abd1806-4841.20163986. PMID: 27438201; PMCID: PMC4938278.
Barel A, Calomme M, Timchenko A, De Paepe K, Demeester N, Rogiers V, Clarys P, Vanden Berghe D. Effect of oral intake of choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid on skin, nails and hair in women with photodamaged skin.Arch Dermatol Res. 2005 Oct;297(4):147-53. doi: 10.1007/s00403-005-0584-6. Epub 2005 Oct 26. Erratum in: Arch Dermatol Res. 2006 Apr;297(10):481. Dosage error in article text. Erratum in: Arch Dermatol Res. 2006 Feb;297(8):381. Paepe, K De [corrected to De Paepe, K]. PMID: 16205932.
Baxter RA. Anti-aging properties of resveratrol: review and report of a potent new antioxidant skin care formulation. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2008 Mar;7(1):2-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1473-2165.2008.00354.x. PMID: 18254804.
Farris P, Krutmann J, Li YH, McDaniel D, Krol Y. Resveratrol: a unique antioxidant offering a multi-mechanistic approach for treating aging skin. J Drugs Dermatol. 2013 Dec;12(12):1389-94. PMID: 24301240.
Fraser JR, Laurent TC, Laurent UB. Hyaluronan: its nature, distribution, functions and turnover. J Intern Med. 1997 Jul;242(1):27-33. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2796.1997.00170.x. PMID: 9260563.
Ghanim H, Sia CL, Abuaysheh S, Korzeniewski K, Patnaik P, Marumganti A, Chaudhuri A, Dandona P. An antiinflammatory and reactive oxygen species suppressive effects of an extract of Polygonum cuspidatum containing resveratrol. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2010 Sep;95(9):E1-8. doi: 10.1210/jc.2010-0482. Epub 2010 Jun 9. PMID: 20534755; PMCID: PMC2936054.
Göllner I, Voss W, von Hehn U, Kammerer S. Ingestion of an Oral Hyaluronan Solution Improves Skin Hydration, Wrinkle Reduction, Elasticity, and Skin Roughness:Results of a Clinical Study. J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2017 Oct;22(4):816-823. doi: 10.1177/2156587217743640. Epub 2017 Dec 4. PMID: 29228816; PMCID: PMC5871318.
Gupta M, Mahajan VK, Mehta KS, Chauhan PS. Zinc therapy in dermatology: a review. Dermatol Res Pract. 2014;2014:709152. doi: 10.1155/2014/709152. Epub 2014 Jul 10. PMID: 25120566; PMCID: PMC4120804.
Kawada C, Yoshida T, Yoshida H, Matsuoka R, Sakamoto W, Odanaka W, Sato T, Yamasaki T, Kanemitsu T, Masuda Y, Urushibata O. Ingested hyaluronan moisturizes dry skin.Nutr J. 2014 Jul 11;13:70. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-13-70. PMID: 25014997; PMCID: PMC4110621.
Kim JH, Park EY, Ha HK, Jo CM, Lee WJ, Lee SS, Kim JW. Resveratrol-loaded Nanoparticles Induce Antioxidant Activity against Oxidative Stress. Asian-Australas J Anim Sci. 2016 Feb;29(2):288-98. doi: 10.5713/ajas.15.0774. PMID: 26732454; PMCID: PMC4698710.
Martin KR. The chemistry of silica and its potential health benefits. J Nutr Health Aging. 2007 Mar-Apr;11(2):94-7. PMID: 17435951.
National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Zinc Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Updated July 15, 2020.
Oe M, Sakai S, Yoshida H, Okado N, Kaneda H, Masuda Y, Urushibata O. Oral hyaluronan relieves wrinkles: a double-blinded, placebo-controlled study over a 12-week period. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2017 Jul 18;10:267-273. doi: 10.2147/CCID.S141845. PMID: 28761365; PMCID: PMC5522662.
Petersen Vitello Kalil CL, Campos V, Cignachi S, Favaro Izidoro J, Prieto Herman Reinehr C, Chaves C. Evaluation of cutaneous rejuvenation associated with the use of ortho-silicic acid stabilized by hydrolyzed marine collagen.J Cosmet Dermatol. 2018 Oct;17(5):814-820. doi: 10.1111/jocd.12430. Epub 2017 Sep 20. PMID: 28941141.
Ratz-Łyko A, Arct J. Resveratrol as an active ingredient for cosmetic and dermatological applications: a review. J Cosmet Laser Ther. 2019;21(2):84-90. doi: 10.1080/14764172.2018.1469767. Epub 2018 May 8. PMID: 29737899.
Schunck M, Zague V, Oesser S, Proksch E. Dietary Supplementation with Specific Collagen Peptides Has a Body Mass Index-Dependent Beneficial Effect on Cellulite Morphology. J Med Food. 2015 Dec;18(12):1340-8. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2015.0022. Epub 2015 Nov 12. PMID: 26561784; PMCID: PMC4685482.
Wen S, Zhang J, Yang B, Elias PM, Man MQ. Role of Resveratrol in Regulating Cutaneous Functions. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2020 Apr 14;2020:2416837. doi: 10.1155/2020/2416837. PMID: 32382280; PMCID: PMC7180429.
Wessels I, Maywald M, Rink L. Zinc as a Gatekeeper of Immune Function. Nutrients. 2017 Nov 25;9(12):1286. doi: 10.3390/nu9121286. PMID: 29186856; PMCID: PMC5748737.