We shared some information during the winter of 2017 on the latest craze of drinking bone broth.  It would seem it is still trending due to the fact that it has been cited as improving skin’s elasticity. Bone broth is a rich source of collagen. It would appear that experts are divided on whether ingesting collagen has skin-firming benefits, but studies have shown an improvement in skin’s elasticity and fine lines from taking collagen supplements. Therefore it would seem that, as bone broth has a rich source of collagen, that it too might improve the skin’s elasticity. However, collagen is not just to be found in bone broth, it’s literally everywhere, you will find pills and powders, bars, drinks and even lotions that tout the benefits of collagen.

But what exactly is collagen?

Collagen is a protein that assists with the structural integrity of skin, bones, cartilage, and tendons. It is a commodity that we certainly look for in supplements as we age as unfortunately it is no secret that our production of collagen decreases with each passing decade. This is obviously one of the main reasons aging skin starts to wrinkle and sag and our joints start to become stiff and ache.

You can definitely see why collagen supplementation has become so popular in recent years as baby boomers are obsessed with trying to look and feel younger as naturally as possible. Supplement manufacturers have produced products called collagen hydrolysates, which are small chains of peptides that are absorbed by the body and delivered directly to tissues that lack protein.

One of the real pitfalls of trying to find supplements that contain a significant amount of collagen is that the supplement industry is still unregulated and can often lead to exaggerated claims. For instance a company can say their supplement contains collagen even if there is only a small trace.  That being said there is actually a lot of research that shows promising results in the use of collagen but it is often best to purchase supplements from a company who has been tested by a third party. 

Studies have shown that the use of collagen hydrolysate supplements taken over a minimum of six weeks has improved skin elasticity and hydration. One of these studies was published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry in 2017. Its findings suggest that collagen hydrolysates can be transferred through the bloodstream directly to the skin which again gives support to the correlation of improved skin elasticity and the intake of collagen in supplement form.

Another study done in 2017 from the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology claimed that collagen supplements might also help improve brittle nails when it was taken for 24 weeks.

In 2018, a study on athletes was conducted and published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Whilst it was agreed that more studies needed to be completed to fully understand whether the intake of collagen can help with joint pain, the athletes who were taking supplements did report less stiffness and pain.

So before you all rush out the door to purchase pots of collagen supplements read on ………

Firstly, our bodies do naturally produce collagen. It is in our bones, tendons, ligaments, hair, skin, organs, muscles and blood vessels. Animals too produce collagen, so if you eat animal protein you may be getting it via this source. Unfortunately there are is not enough indisputable evidence to prove increased supplemental intake but I will keep a close eye on future studies and keep you informed.

Watch this space!