If you’ve been on Instagram or YouTube in the past couple of months, you might have seen an uptick in celebrities and influencers touting the power of collagen—more specifically, collagen powder supplements that you mix with your morning coffee or smoothie.
And I have to admit, unlike other products that these celebs tend to hawk (flat tummy teas and detox products come to mind), something about the whole collagen thing piqued my interest. I drink protein shakes every morning—what harm would it do to add a scoop of collagen powder and see what happens?
What Is Collagen? And How Is It Helpful to Our Skin?
Collagen is a protein that is already naturally produced in our bodies. It is the building block of all of our skin, hair, muscles, and bones. Our skin is actually made up of about 80% collagen and, together with another protein, elastin, it keeps our skin supple, firm, and plump. As we age, our bodies stop producing as much collagen—starting at around your 20s (gasp!!!!), you lose about 1% of your collagen production per year. Smoking, cigarette smoke, excess sun exposure, and pollution are also responsible for collagen loss.
As we age, our bodies stop producing as much collagen—starting at around your 20s, you lose about 1% of your collagen production per year.
I’m in my mid-30s and I’ve already started to see the tell-tale signs of collagen loss: dry skin, loss of elasticity, and fine lines around my eyes. So, after doing some research and reading tons of reviews online, I started taking collagen supplements to see if it’d remedy this for me. According to a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, oral collagen supplements have been shown to have beneficial effects to the skin. Another study, this one featured in the Journal of Medical Nutrition and Nutraceuticals, showed that a selection of women who drank a mixture with hyaluronic acid and collagen peptides saw a significant decrease in the depth of their wrinkles and increased their elasticity and skin hydration.
What Form of Collagen Supplements Are There?
Oral collagen supplements come in many forms, including pills, powders, and pre-made drinks. The collagen used in these supplements can come from either cow or fish collagen peptides found in their cartilage. At this time, there are very few, if any, vegan or vegetarian collagen sources, as collagen is generally found in the bones, skin, and ligaments of animals and humans.
Collagen peptides, also known as hydrolyzed protein, is the main ingredient used in these supplements. It is slightly different from the collagen produced in our bodies. Collagen peptides have shorter chains of amino acids, so they are more easily digested and absorbed into our bloodstreams.
I personally use the Vital Proteins Collagen Protein powder. Don’t worry about the whole cow thing—it’s completely flavorless and mixes incredibly well. I’ve used it in my coffee and tea, and have blended it in my smoothies, and it has never changed the flavor of my drinks.
How Much Do You Need to Take Per Day for Results?
Let’s circle back to that study from the Journal of Medical Nutrition and Nutraceuticals. In that study, each woman was given either 2.5g, 5g and 10g of fish collagen peptides. After four weeks, the women 30 and older who took 5g and 10g of the supplement noticed a significant increase in elasticity and hydration, as compared to the women who simply took the placebo. One scoop of the Vital Collagen Protein contains 20g of hydrolyzed collagen, and 80mg of hyaluronic acid, so it has double the amount tested in the study.
So, did I see results? Yes, yes I did! After four weeks of continuous use for about five days a week, my skin was visibly plumper, firmer, and smoother. A few months ago, I went out to coffee with a friend, and they told me my skin looked even more vibrant than before and wanted to know what I was using. I also had a lot of other noticeable benefits besides my skin—my joints were less achy, my nails grew faster and longer, my scalp was less itchy and irritated, and I had significant hair growth.
So, is adding collagen to your coffee something I’d recommend? Well, based on the few studies we have plus my personal experience, I’d say it definitely couldn’t hurt!