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Do Collagen Supplements Work?

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The human body can make its own collagen using the amino acids from foods (such as beef, poultry, eggs, and seafood) and micronutrients, such as vitamin C, copper, and zinc (*).

But while you’re able to produce collagen, you’ve probably heard about supplements and their benefits for your skin, hair, nails, and joints.

To answer the question, “Do collagen supplements work?” we need to look at what the research says so you can make the best decision before supplementing with one.

What Are Collagen Supplements?

Collagen supplements, often marketed as an anti-aging supplement, support your body’s collagen production. They’re sourced from the connective tissues of animals like cows and fish, since animals naturally contain collagen. You’ve probably heard of bovine collagen (meaning that it’s made from cow hides) and marine collagen (meaning that it’s made from fish).

While most people take collagen to promote healthy skin by improving elasticity and hydration, collagen has other benefits, including wound healing, reducing joint pain, and promoting healthy, young hair (* , *). Later, in this article, we’re going to discuss more about each positive effect of collagen supplements.

Types of Collagen Supplements

When choosing the best collagen supplement, you’ll notice a variety of options, which can get you confused. As mentioned earlier, the two most popular types are bovine collagen and marine collagen. But there’s also porcine collagen derived from pigs. Here are the differences between these body supplements:

  • Bovine collagen: Collagen from cows is particularly high in type 1 and type 3 collagen. Type 1 collagen is the most abundant collagen in our bodies and it’s known to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, promoting young skin (*). Type 3 collagen is found in our blood vessels and plays a role in blood clotting, which makes it good for wound healing (*).
  • Marine collagen: Collagen from fish (wild-caught fish) provides type 1 and type 2 collagen. So, aside from boosting your skin appearance, it helps with your joints and muscles. Studies have shown that type 2 collagen is effective in treating early rheumatoid arthritis (*).
  • Porcine collagen: Pork-derived collagen also supports healthy skin, joints, and bones. Pork is often overlooked as a collagen source but it’s an important part of our diet and is high in the amino acid leucine for muscle protein synthesis (*).
  • Eggshell membrane collagen: As the name implies, this type of collagen comes from chicken eggshell membranes. Eggshell membrane collagen is usually combined with other collagen sources (bovine, porcine, and marine) to create a multi-collagen protein supplement for full-body benefits.

Regardless of the source, collagen supplements for skin, hair, nails, muscles, and joints are commonly referred to as “collagen peptides.” Collagen peptides differ from unhydrolyzed collagen in that collagen peptides are easily absorbed by your body.

Collagen peptides also come in different forms. Powders are highly popular, but you’ll be able to find collagen pills, beverages, gummies, and bars (collagen added into protein bars).

Do Collagen Supplements Really Work?

Generally speaking, people don’t need to supplement with collagen if they’re consuming protein-rich foods (especially animal-based foods) in their diet. However, adding collagen to your regimen can be very helpful for alleviating skin and joint concerns. And since the human body produces less collagen with age, collagen supplements will help mitigate the effects of aging (*).

So, does taking collagen work for your skin and joints? Multiple studies show that collagen is effective for these health benefits, among other things.

A randomized, placebo-controlled, blind study found that taking 2.5 grams of collagen peptides (which included 80 mg of vitamin C, 3 mg of zinc, and 2.3 mg of vitamin E) for 12 weeks led to significant increases in the subjects’ skin elasticity, hydration, and density (*).

The same study mentioned that taking highly bioavailable collagen peptides works better for improving the skin compared to applying them topically (creams and lotions). This is because the absorbed collagen peptides are able to reach the dermis or middle layer of the skin. The dermis makes up 90% of your skin thickness and it’s where collagen is found (* , *).

Another promising benefit of collagen is relief from joint pain caused by osteoarthritis and strenuous exercise.

For example, one double-blind placebo-controlled randomized study in 30-65 year old subjects diagnosed with osteoarthritis found that both porcine and bovine collagen are equally effective for reducing joint pain and stiffness in osteoarthritis (*).

In another study, student athletes who experienced joint pain due to stress, injury, or trauma took 10 grams of collagen peptides. After 24 weeks, the subjects showed improvement in their pain scores (*). The same study noted that collagen supplementation may reduce a person’s dependency on pain medications.

What does collagen do for your muscles? As the most abundant protein in your body, collagen can improve body composition and muscle strength when paired with resistance training (*).

Additionally, supplementing with collagen may reduce the appearance of cellulite, support heart health, digestive health, and brain health (* , *, *, *).

How Long Do Collagen Supplements Take to Work?

As for the time it takes to experience the effects of taking collagen, results may vary from one person to another — although most studies on collagen suggest that you’ll start to see benefits in as little as 4-12 weeks (1 to 3 months).

For example, studies on collagen for osteoarthritis show that most patients experience relief from joint symptoms after 12 weeks. Relief becomes more apparent after 24 weeks or 6 months (*). When it comes to collagen for skin, 12 weeks or 3 months is a common duration (*).

Certain things will impact the effectiveness of a collagen supplement — and ultimately how fast it’ll work. You’ll have to keep these factors in mind before deciding to supplement in the first place or choosing which product to go for:

  • Dosage: Different supplements have different dosages, but ideally it should have 10 grams of collagen per serving. Our Perfect Keto collagen, for example, gives 10g of hydrolyzed bovine collagen in each scoop.
  • Quality: Pasture-raised, grass-fed animals are the best, including wild-caught fish (for marine collagen). It’s important to choose a brand that’s transparent about where they’re sourcing their collagen.
  • The type of collagen: Are you looking to improve your skin, hair, joints, and other connective tissues? In that case, choose a supplement that contains types 1 and 3 collagen. But if you’re specifically optimizing for joint health, check that it has type 2 collagen.
  • Sugars added: Unfortunately, some collagen products have added sugars, which defeat the purpose of taking collagen in the first place since sugar speeds up the aging process by weakening collagen. Be sure that your collagen has zero added sugars. Sugar has different names, including fructose, agave nectar, molasses, and fruit juice. 

Perhaps the most important thing in order to get the most out of your skin supplements or hair supplements is to be consistent. Follow the dosage suggested on the package and remember to take it daily.

And while you’re taking collagen, maintain a healthy lifestyle that preserves and increases your body’s collagen levels. This includes eating collagen producing foods, such as beef, egg whites, fish, shellfish, chicken, and bone broth. Moreover, avoid consuming added sugars from highly processed foods, smoking, and skimping on sleep (* , *).

Is It Safe to Take Collagen Supplements?

Collagen supplements are generally safe for most people, although it’s always a good idea to consult with your healthcare provider if you have a medical condition, are taking other medications, are pregnant, and have food allergies (fish, shellfish, and eggs).

Some supplements, depending on the other ingredients they contain, may cause stomach upset and diarrhea. For instance, a keto-friendly collagen supplement might have medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) to increase its fat content and support ketosis. As a beginner on the keto diet, it’s possible to experience digestive issues from increasing dietary fat. 

If you plan on taking a keto-friendly collagen, we recommend starting with the lowest possible dose. Slowly increase that dose according to your personal tolerance.

Recommended Dosage for Taking Collagen Supplements

Since collagen supplements have varying dosages, it can be tricky to tell how much you should take per day. But based on available research, taking 10-20 grams should be fine. That would look like 1-2 scoops of a collagen peptides powder taken in the morning (some powders can be mixed with coffee), after a workout, or in the evening before bedtime.

To be on the safe side, check the label on your collagen powder. Most powders recommend 1-2 scoops per day, taken alone or mixed with your favorite beverage.

Important: Also, remember that collagen isn’t a complete protein. It lacks the essential amino acid tryptophan. So although you’re supplementing with collagen, you still need other protein sources in your diet.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are answers to common questions on the effects of collagen supplements:

What are the negative effects of taking collagen?

The side effects of collagen supplements (if any) are usually mild, and they include increased fullness, digestive upset, and diarrhea.

Additionally, people with seafood, egg, and dairy allergies should avoid collagen products containing these ingredients to prevent an allergic response.

What are some alternatives to collagen supplements?

If for some reason you cannot or decide not to supplement with collagen, you’ll still be able to stimulate collagen production by eating protein-rich foods. Examples are beef, pork, chicken, fish, seafood, eggs, and bone broth. Fortunately, these foods are very keto-friendly and highly satiating.

Those who are already on a keto diet can easily incorporate these into their meal plan. As a bonus tip, eat foods containing vitamin C, copper, and zinc. These nutrients play a vital role in forming collagen.

Does collagen affect hormones?

Most people tolerate collagen well, meaning that collagen is unlikely to mess with your hormones. In fact, evidence suggests that supplementing with collagen peptides increases leptin, a hormone that promotes satiety (*).

Bottom Line

Studies reveal that yes, collagen provides many potential benefits as a dietary supplement. From skin health to joint support, collagen provides the building blocks that your body needs to look and feel good.

When choosing a supplement, prioritize quality. Watch out for added sugars that will kick you out of ketosis and potential allergens. Perfect Keto offers grass-fed and dairy-free bovine collagen that’s available in 6 different flavors.

23 References

Cleveland Clinic. The Best Way You Can Get More Collagen. 2018 May 15

Choi F et al. Oral Collagen Supplementation: A Systematic Review of Dermatological Applications. 2019 January

Clark K et al. 24-Week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain. 2008 April 15

Lopez A et al. Hydrolyzed Collagen—Sources and Applications. 2019 November 7

Kuivaniemi H et al. Type III collagen (COL3A1): Gene and protein structure, tissue distribution, and associated diseases. 2019 May 7

Bakilan F et al. Effects of Native Type II Collagen Treatment on Knee Osteoarthritis: A Randomized Controlled Trial. 2016 June

Rondanelli M et al. Where to Find Leucine in Food and How to Feed Elderly With Sarcopenia in Order to Counteract Loss of Muscle Mass: Practical Advice. 2021 January 26

Varani J et al. Decreased Collagen Production in Chronologically Aged Skin. 2006 June

Bolke L et al. A Collagen Supplement Improves Skin Hydration, Elasticity, Roughness, and Density: Results of a Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Blind Study. 2019 October 17

Li C et al. Recent progress in preventive effect of collagen peptides on photoaging skin and action mechanism. 2022 March

Cleveland Clinic. Skin.

Kumar S et al. A double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomised, clinical study on the effectiveness of collagen peptide on osteoarthritis. 2014 June 24

Clark K et al. 24-Week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain. 2008 April 15

Zdzieblik D et al. Collagen peptide supplementation in combination with resistance training improves body composition and increases muscle strength in elderly sarcopenic men: a randomised controlled trial. 2015 October 28

Schunck M et al. Dietary Supplementation with Specific Collagen Peptides Has a Body Mass Index-Dependent Beneficial Effect on Cellulite Morphology. 2015 December 1

Tomosugi N et al. Effect of Collagen Tripeptide on Atherosclerosis in Healthy Humans. 2017 May 1

Koutroubakis I E et al. Serum laminin and collagen IV in inflammatory bowel disease. 2003 November

ScienceDaily. Collagen May Help Protect Brain Against Alzheimer’s Disease. 2008 December 10

Clark K et al. 24-Week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain. 2008 April 15

Bolke L et al. A Collagen Supplement Improves Skin Hydration, Elasticity, Roughness, and Density: Results of a Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Blind Study. 2019 October 17

Danby F. Nutrition and aging skin: sugar and glycation. 2010 July to August

Kahan V et al. Stress, immunity and skin collagen integrity: Evidence from animal models and clinical conditions. 2009 November

Duarte G et al. Acute supplementation with whey protein or collagen does not alter appetite in healthy women: a randomised double-blind and crossover pilot study. 2021 August 19

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