Collagen is more than just a popular ingredient in moisturizers and hair care products. It’s also the most abundant protein in your body, and it plays an important role in maintaining the health of your skin, bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and more.1
But production of this vital production slows down as we age. By the time you turn 40, you’ll likely be losing around one percent of your collagen each year.2 Certain lifestyle factors—like sun exposure, smoking, and excess alcohol consumption—can cause even more rapid collagen loss. Over time, decreased collagen production can contribute to signs of aging such as wrinkles and joint stiffness.
Collagen peptides can help to replenish collagen levels and stave off some of those signs of aging. If you’re wondering whether you need collagen supplements, here’s what you need to know.
What is Collagen?
Collagen is a type of protein that provides structure and support to cells and tissues throughout your body. It’s a key component of the extracellular matrix (ECM), a network of proteins and other molecules that acts as a “scaffold” for your cells.3
Collagen peptides —also known as hydrolyzed collagen or collagen hydrolysate — are made by breaking down collagen proteins into smaller pieces. This allows for easier absorption, explains Anna Bohnengel, MS, RD, LD, a fertility nutritionist and founder of Nourish Life Nutrition, LLC.
Which Foods Contain Collagen?
Collagen is found naturally in bones and connective tissue, so it’s no surprise that bone broth is the best food source of collagen.
“Bone broth can be a fabulous source of collagen, as well as many minerals, if it's prepared properly,” Bohnengel says. If your bone broth jiggles after it’s been stored in the fridge overnight, she adds, it probably contains a good amount of collagen.
Other foods that provide collagen include the skin and bones from fish, along with tough cuts of meat that contain connective tissue, such as brisket.4
Of course, that’s a pretty limited list of options—especially if you follow a vegan diet or you’re trying to limit your red meat consumption.
“As a dietitian, I always advocate for a food-first approach,” Bohnengel says. “The challenge with collagen, however, is that it's really hard to get enough of it from food alone.”
That’s where collagen peptides come in. Supplementing with a daily multivitamin that contains collagen peptides—like the Women’s Daily Multivitamin Trio pack, which includes a Beauty Blend Capsule with 500 mg of collagen peptides—can help to boost collagen levels.
Along with supplementation, it’s important to eat a balanced diet that provides the nutrients your body needs to support natural collagen production—including vitamin C, zinc, copper, and the amino acids proline and glycine.5
What are the Health Benefits of Collagen Peptides?
Research suggests that collagen peptides may support your health in a few key ways.
1. Skin health
For years, collagen has been an ingredient in topical anti-aging skin care products such as creams and serums. But recent research suggests that collagen supplements may actually be more beneficial for skin health.
In 2021, researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 19 studies and concluded that collagen supplementation may be effective for helping to reduce wrinkles and improve skin elasticity and hydration.6
“By improving tissue elasticity, collagen promotes healthy skin and wound healing,” Bohnengel says.7
The skin benefits of collage peptides can be especially helpful during postpartum recovery. “During pregnancy, your skin stretches to the max,” Bohnengel says. “Collagen is the protein that makes your skin supple, and then collagen can help you heal and tighten your skin postpartum.”
2. Joint Care
Collagen helps to strengthen ligaments and tendons in your joints, which helps to keep joints supple and can protect against injury, Bohnengel says.
And research suggests supplementing with collagen peptides may support joint health and mobility. A 2019 review of randomized, placebo-controlled trials found that collagen supplementation was effective in improving symptoms of osteoarthritis, including stiffness, pain, and functional limitations.8
3. Stronger Bones
Collagen is a major component of bones, and collagen supplements may play an important role in maintaining bone quality. In one study of postmenopausal women, researchers found that supplementing with collagen peptides was associated with improvements in bone mineral density and bone formation.9
Does Collagen Have Any Side Effects?
“There are no reported side effects from taking collagen peptides,” Bohnengel says.10 However, she cautions against taking more collagen than your body can absorb, as any excess will just go to waste.
Of course, it’s always a good idea to discuss any new supplement with your healthcare provider. And keep in mind collagen peptides aren’t a substitute for healthy habits. The T.H. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard notes that it’s still important to avoid lifestyle factors that can negatively affect collagen production, such as smoking and lack of sleep.11
Do Other Supplements Offer Similar Benefits to Collagen?
Certain vitamins and minerals — including vitamin C, zinc, and copper — are vital for the body’s natural synthesis of collagen. Taking a daily multivitamin that provides these micronutrients can help to boost collagen production. Both the Mom Multi Support Pack and the Women’s Daily Vitamin Trio include these key vitamins and minerals, along with 500 mg of hydrolyzed bovine collagen peptides.
Collagen supplements are derived from animal products, so they may not fit into a strict vegetarian or vegan diet. Scientists are working on developing “vegan collagen” by genetically modifying yeast or bacteria, but there are currently no vegan options on the market that are proven to mimic the benefits of collagen peptides.12 Those who follow a vegan diet should focus on getting the nutrients needed to support natural collagen production, and a daily multivitamin can help to fill in any gaps in the diet.
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This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and we recommend that you always consult with your healthcare provider. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of Perelel.