Even my husband, who is as removed as possible from wellness trends, has asked me about collagen. Collagen has become the go-to elixir for everything from skin to joints with endorsements from celebrities like Jennifer Aniston (who favours Vital Proteins) and Christie Brinkley (who swears by Biosil, a supplement that boosts collagen production). It’s not cheap to add collagen into your wellness routine, with many powders selling in the $40-50 range. At a time when everything is more expensive, it can be hard to justify adding in another supplement. So is collagen really worth it?
Research on Collagen
According to PubMed, there have been about 47 articles published since 2007 about collagen supplements (search string of “collagen supplement” or “collagen supplementation”). Of these, the majority focus on collagen and skin, however a few delve into interesting topics like the effect of collagen supplementation on patellar tendon properties in women soccer players. A recent (2023) article does a nice job of summarizing the science on collagen supplements and skin, so it was the main piece that I will focus on here.
Several studies have shown improvements in skin density, hydration, and elasticity. A 2019 review of 11 studies (Choi et al.) found “promising” results for wound healing and markers of skin ageing. In conclusion, the author writes:
From the literature we can see that there is now growing evidence to support improvements in skin elasticity, texture and improvement in collagen structure when using a daily collagen supplement. (44)
These results are encouraging and support the benefits of adding collagen into your daily routine, if it makes sense for your budget.
What type of collagen?
Collagen supplements are typically made from marine or bovine/porcine sources (ick, I know!). While it is possible to buy vegan collagen supplements, they are usually composed of ingredients to boost internal collagen formation like silica or vitamin C. Some research suggests that marine collagen is better for skin and joints whereas bovine/porcine sourced collagen is better for muscles and bones. Marine collagen is also supposed to be more bioavailable (a point noted by Caroline Hall in her review).
There are even some brand names of collagen that have solid research behind them. Verisol (porcine) is a type of collagen that was found to reduce skin wrinkles in a 2014 article. Naticol is a marine collagen that was found in 2022 to inhibit photoaging and increase hydration in an animal and cell study.
What I like to use
I’ve tried a bunch of different collagen supplements and have loved:
Dose and Co. caramel collagen creamer – tastes amazing in smoothies and I’ve even used it to bake collagen cookies
Vital Proteins coconut creamer – tastes excellent in smoothies
Beachbody Collagen powder – I love that this is a tiny scoop so easy to travel with!
and…I’m about to try the new Avon collagen powder which is made with Naticol. Will keep you posted! It will be available soon to order in Canada.
Choi, Franchesca D. et al. “Oral Collagen Supplementation: A Systematic Review of Dermatological Applications.” Journal of drugs in dermatology : JDD vol. 18,1 (2019): 9-16.
Hall, Caroline, RGN, RM and Bsc Hons, INP. “Reviewing Collagen Supplements: Independent nurse prescriber Caroline Hall explores the literature around collagen supplementation in aesthetics.” Plastic and Aesthetic Nursing 43.1 (2023): 41-46.
Lee, Minhee et al. “Fish Collagen Peptide (NaticolⓇ) Protects the Skin from Dryness, Wrinkle Formation, and Melanogenesis Both In Vitro and In Vivo.” Preventive nutrition and food science vol. 27,4 (2022): 423-435.
Proksch, E et al. “Oral intake of specific bioactive collagen peptides reduces skin wrinkles and increases dermal matrix synthesis.” Skin pharmacology and physiology vol. 27,3 (2014): 113-9.