Why is there so much hype and what are the biggest questions about these supplements?
Collagen Powder Supplements
Collagen is a protein that provides structure to much of your body including your bones, skin, tendons and ligaments.
Collagen is also known as the “glue” that holds many tissues in the body together. Your body naturally contains many different types of collagen. It’s all over! Today’s focus will be on its effect on skin.
As we age, the quality and quantity of collagen in the body decreases with levels of collagen peaking around age 20. This level begins to decline with time and with environmental stressors like sun exposure, smoking, stress and a poor diet.
Diminished collagen (specifically in the skin) leads to wrinkles. Without enough “glue,” our skin starts to sag. This is why some people think about taking supplements to increase collagen or slow it’s depletion. Here’s some input that may help you decide if it makes sense to take these supplements.
Does Collagen Powder Slow Skin Aging?
Collagen supplementation may improve skin hydration and the appearance of wrinkles. It does this by helping to support synthesis of natural collagen, and slowing the loss of collagen.
Researchers have found that 8 weeks of collagen supplementation leads to a 12% increase in skin moisture, a 9% increase in collagen density, and a 31.2% reduction in collagen degradation when compared to the placebo group.
This same study also learned that some people find relief from psoriasis due to collagen’s ability to fight inflammation. [Dr. Kellyann]
What is the Source of Collagen Supplements?
Typically, collagen supplements are derived from bovine sources but there are powders made from marine sources, and the gelatin form of collagen is commonly from pork.
Is Collagen Powder Safe for Everyone?
Most sources used for this article have noted that there is not a significant amount of research on collagen supplementation, yet. Of course, one would need to steer clear if they are allergic to foods that come from the same source.
There are no substantial reports of side effects. The potential side effects of gelatin supplements include a lingering unpleasant taste and sensations of heaviness and heartburn. [Healthline]
How Much and How Long Should I Take Collagen Powder?
As with any supplement, ask your doctor if it’s ok for you to start taking it. Your doctor will also know how much is the proper amount for your needs. Be sure to look for a high-quality source! Collagen is popular in it’s dissolvable “peptides” powder form, and in it’s thickening gelatin form, often used in desserts like jello. A serving of collagen peptides are popularly used in daily smoothies as a protein supplement, or ingested as a bone broth.
How Long Does it Take Before Collagen Supplements Work?
A randomized study of women taking collagen supplements found improvements in skin hydration, elasticity, roughness and density after three months of intake. [NIH.Gov]
Can Other Vitamins Be Mixed with Collagen Supplements
Vitamin C aids in collagen production and citrus fruits are a good whole foods source of this vitamin.
Hyaluronic Acid Supplements
Hyaluronic acid is a type of carbohydrate that is found naturally in the body and occurs in high amounts in the skin, joints, and eyes, providing lubrication and keeping tissues hydrated. [Verywellhealth]
Like collagen, hyaluronic acid (“HA”) decreases as you age. This affects many areas of the body like the joints. Without HA, our joints are not moist enough which leads to osteoarthritis.
In the skin, lowered amounts of HA or hydration leads to more signs of aging like fine lines, dull appearance and wrinkles.
What are the Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid?
One study found that the “ingestion of HA moisturises the skin and is expected to improve the quality of life for people who suffer from dry skin.” It can slow down the aging process, increase elasticity and improve the suppleness of the skin. [HSMD]
Benefits include increased hydration in the skin and a more “plump” appearance that helps to smooth fine lines, too. It’s interesting that the benefits I see while using HA in facial treatments can also be experienced through internal supplementation.
What Forms do Hyaluronic Acid Supplements Come in and What is the Source?
Hyaluronic Acid supplements are artificially made and come in oral capsule form, injectable form (medically provided), and serum form. HA is found in whole food forms as well. Natural Hyaluronic Acid can be ingested through a healthy diet rich in green leafy vegetables. Including magnesium-rich foods (spinach, avocado, dark chocolate) may also aid in the production of hyaluronic acid in the body.
Who Should Take Hyaluronic Supplements and are They Safe?
These supplements haven’t had notable side-effects in the handful of trials that have been done, so far, but there are a few categories of people who are not suitable for taking this supplement:
- Pregnant women,
- People with allergies to these ingredients and
- Individuals who have had cancer.
As for the safety of HA supplements, studies are still being done. It's fairly new in supplement form and researchers do not know a lot about the long-term effects.
When Do Hyaluronic Acid Supplements Start to Work? How Much is the Right Amount?
According to a 2017 study in Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology, after 12 weeks of treatment with oral [hyaluronic acid], 60 people with crow's feet experienced a reduction in wrinkle depth and volume. They also had improved skin luster and suppleness. [NIH.Gov]
In the same study, data found that the dosage amount could vary but end with a similar outcome. In other words, people taking lower doses simply needed to take it longer before they saw similar results. [Verywellhealth]
The recommended doses are anywhere between 200-1000mg/day but your primary care doctor or nutritionist are the best sources for learning about how many milligrams of H A is right for you.
“The #1 reason to use supplements is if you are deficient and cannot get the nutrient in your diet.” -Nicole McGee, M.A. in Kinesiology and Heath Expert
I’d like to believe that collagen and hyaluronic acid supplements could be beneficial to those with acneic skin due to the benefits of being anti-inflammatory and skin barrier-repairing hydration benefits. As of now, there is a lack of solid evidence supporting the benefits of these supplements. And there are many variables to consider.
- Slow natural collagen and hyaluronic acid loss by wearing SPF, avoiding smoking and eating inflammatory foods, and of course, by reducing stress.
- Boost natural production by eating a protein-rich diet that also includes leafy greens, vitamin-C, and magnesium.
- Consult your doctor about taking these nutrients in supplement form if you believe you are deficient.