You’ve probably heard that collagen supplements can reduce the effects of aging on your skin. Is it true that there is a way to slow down the aging process, or altogether reverse it? Could collagen supplements be the answer to it all?
Collagen is a big factor in how your skin looks because it is a protein found in the connective tissues running through your body. Over the years, the inner layer of skin in your will have decreased amounts of collagen which ultimately causes your skin to become more rigid and susceptible to damage. Therefore, if there were a way to increase the amount of collagen in your body, that would be enough to solve this problem once and for all, right? Unfortunately, despite many claims that taking collagen supplements can replenish the collagen levels in your system to levels it once produced (thus slowing down the aging process), evidence for this is scarce or altogether non-existent.
What are the Benefits of Collagen Supplements?
Even now, there have been scarcely any studies which have tested what collagen supplements can do for one’s health. However, from the available studies, here are what the results show:
1) Bone Health
During a study conducted in 2010, researchers discovered that collagen supplements did not increase bone health in postmenopausal women. Not men, only women, and not even a large variety of them (71 to be exact, who are postmenopausal). Even then, the results indicate that collagen supplements did not have any effect on these women.
It would not be very good science to simply extrapolate the data from this study and make a general claim based on that that collagen supplements do not affect bone health for everyone, but until research indicates otherwise, it is better to err on the side of caution and say it has no benefits for bone health.
2) Body composition
Another study conducted in 2009 claim that taking hydrolyzed collagen may maintain lean body mass in elderly women. There were 9 participants in this study, all of which were given and instructed to take hydrolyzed collagen supplements for a test period of 15 days.
Again, the test was only conducted on a very small and specific demographic (9 elderly women), and only for a short period of 15 days. This makes the results seem less reliable because there are too many factors at play which could have skewed test results, and even then it is not guaranteed to work for a larger test group, let alone the general population.
Alternate Forms of Collagen:
1) Collagen Creams
The anti-aging effects of beauty products containing collagen such as lotions and creams may not be true as scientific evidence supporting that claim is weak or simply not there. Luckily, preliminary research for some studies appear to show that coating the skin with DHEA may increase collagen production and limit the signs of aging. But, to err on the side of caution, this has not been tested in large scale clinical trials and thus it would be wise to consult a dermatologist prior to trying this out.
2) Collagen Injections
Colloquially called a “filler”, it is a cosmetic procedure in which chemicals are injected directly into your skin in an attempt to stimulate the production of collagen in that area. It has been used to lower the signs of aging and generally it is considered safe. However, as with most things, there are side effects, and in this case they include discoloration of the skin and large bumps from allergic reactions. Finally, these benefits are only temporary as the effects wear off quickly and treatments are constantly needed in order to maintain these benefits.
3) Hydrolyzed Collagen
By breaking down collagen found in the bones of animals and their connective tissues, hydrolyzed collagen can be made. This type of collagen is broken down using a method called hydrolysis, which utilizes water molecules to react with decomposing compounds. Various beauty products being sold as collagen supplements or touted as containing collagen typically contains hydrolyzed collagen.
If you wish to take collagen supplements to see if they can work for you, or for any other purposes specific to you, please consult a doctor before starting.
Photo Credit: Alba Soler Photography
Article of interest: GABA Supplementation