Ariane Resnick, CNC
As the main structural protein in connective tissue, collagen is vital to human life. From our muscles to our hair, we are full of collagen. However, the important role it plays is only beginning to be celebrated—and, subsequently, supplemented—in recent years. In the form of collagen peptides, which is a broken down version of the necessary collagen protein that our bodies can easily use, collagen products are suddenly everywhere, and people can't get enough. What is collagen supplementation used for, and does it work? Let's examine.
Do We Actually Need Extra Collagen?
On the one hand, the human body uses vitamin C to continue producing collagen. The more foods we eat that are rich in vitamin C, the simpler this task is. However, as we age, our ability to naturally continue producing collagen decreases, no matter how much vitamin C we ingest or put on our skin. Frequently used in facial care products, vitamin C is useful for skin issues, but its effectiveness is also dependent on how well your body is able to utilize it for collagen synthesis.
What Does Collagen Loss Lead To?
As we age, we begin to see wrinkles. This is directly related to less collagen in our skin. Our hair and nails may be more brittle or less shiny. When we injure ourselves athletically, it takes longer to heal. Most importantly, we often experience joint pain from collagen depletion. This pain can turn into arthritis, a condition in which the inflammation in joints leads to frequent or constant pain.
What Are Collagen Products Made Of?
There isn't just one form of collagen in the human body, but rather, over two dozen. About 90 percent of our collagen is Type I, which is used for skin, tendons and bones. Type II is used in our cartilage and joints, and Type III is in our bone marrow. Unless you are purchasing a product that specifically states it is made of Type II for cartilage and joint health, products typically contain Type I. (Type I is also believed to be beneficial for joints and cartilage.) Collagen peptides aren't made from collagen, exactly, but from the amino acids found in it. Marine collagen is made from fish, and the brands that don't reference sourcing are generally made from cows.
Do Collagen Products Work For Wrinkles?
We haven't been studying collagen in relation to wrinkles for terribly long, but it is the solid results of studies that are helping fuel usage of collagen as a beauty product. Some studies show that topically applied collagen can reduce the appearance of wrinkles and when taken internally, lead to firmer skin, less dryness and increased skin density.
Do Collagen Products Work For Joint Pain?
Worried that collagen stands up as an anti-aging aid but can't possibly help physical pain, too? Don't be! The results are positive on this front as well, with studies displaying reduced joint pain caused by arthritis, potential improvement for osteoporosis, and less pain and inflammation from sports injuries (which may also lead to quicker recovery time).
The Real Deal
Research is still ongoing, and there are more claims about collagen's health values that require further study, such as its impact on gut health. Despite skeptics thinking that you can't increase collagen production by consuming it directly, studies are showing that you can and that it will result in reduced joint pain, lower inflammation, healthier skin, nails, hair, and reduced wrinkles. Expect to see collagen as an ingredient in ever more products, as these benefits appeal to everyone.
Ariane Resnick is a special diet chef, certified nutritionist and bestselling author. She has been featured in media such as Forbes, CBS’ “The Doctors,” and Huffington Post. Her private clientele includes celebrities such as P!nk. Ariane has two books published, the first of which, The Bone Broth Miracle, reached the #1 ranked cookbook on Amazon on multiple occasions. She also has two books forthcoming in 2019.