Do collagen dietary supplements truly work?

Reviewed by Helen Kollias, PhD

What’s collagen? | Collagen vs. gelatin | Joint ache | Pores and skin well being | Hair progress | Protein content material | Intestine well being | Being pregnant and postpartum | Must you take collagen?

Each morning, hundreds of individuals dump some white powder into their espresso or tea.

That white powder is collagen, and it’s (nonetheless) having a second.

Many individuals (perhaps your self or your shoppers included) use it due to the claims that it could enhance pores and skin, hair, joint, bone, and intestine well being. And likewise that it’s the “cleanest” and “most absorbable” protein supply. (No less than, that’s what the collagen complement firms say.)

However do collagen dietary supplements truly work?

On this article, we’ll discover out.


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What’s collagen?

Collagen is a vital structural protein within the physique present in our pores and skin, bones, muscle mass, tendons, and ligaments.

As we age, we produce much less collagen. (Hello, wrinkles and creaky joints.)

Whereas there are at the very least 16 various kinds of collagen, sorts I, II, and III make up 80 to 90 p.c of the collagen in our our bodies.1

The place does collagen come from?

Collagen dietary supplements are often derived from bovine cover (bovine collagen) or fish (marine collagen). These typically are available a flavorless powder that dissolves in liquid. They will additionally are available capsule and liquid kind.

Collagen might be present in meals too. Bone broth, sure cuts of meat and poultry, and fish (particularly the pores and skin) are all good sources.

Some manufacturers promote vegan or vegetarian collagen choices, however these merchandise don’t comprise collagen. As a substitute, they comprise vitamins that will promote collagen manufacturing, similar to vitamin C.

Hydrolyzed collagen, collagen peptides, and gelatin: What’s the distinction?!

Nicely, the primary comparability is simple: Hydrolyzed collagen and collagen peptides are literally the identical factor.

“Hydrolyzed” simply refers back to the processing—utilizing warmth, enzymes, or acid to interrupt aside protein chains into shorter chains, or peptides.

The declare is that hydrolyzed protein, or shorter peptides, are simpler to soak up than longer-chain proteins. Nevertheless, analysis doesn’t assist that idea, significantly within the case of collagen. 2

Gelatin is the cooked type of collagen. It’s liquid at excessive temperatures and gels at low temperatures. (Assume: Jell-O, which accommodates gelatin.)

Nutritionally, collagen and gelatin are basically the identical. The primary distinction? Gelatin is a complete lot cheaper. (Extra on that later.) And in reality, a lot of the analysis used to assist collagen’s potential advantages—similar to collagen regeneration in muscle mass and tendons3,4—is definitely analysis on gelatin.

The actual advantages of collagen dietary supplements

Right here’s a rundown of what we find out about collagen dietary supplements.

Collagen for joint ache

Of all of the buzzed-about advantages of taking collagen, this is among the most well-studied. (Hey, we wish to play tennis with out knee ache!)

Some analysis means that kind II collagen might doubtlessly assist joint well being when taken with vitamin C.Three The vitamin C half is necessary, for the reason that physique wants vitamin C with a view to make collagen.

That mentioned, critiques and meta-analyses have failed to search out collagen supplementation advantages folks with joint circumstances like osteoarthritis and tendinopathy, the breakdown of the tendons.5,6

One widespread argument is that since collagen is mostly produced from bone and cartilage, it ought to comprise every thing we have to restore these components of our physique. Nevertheless, a lot of the amino acids in collagen are ones we are able to make on our personal (like glycine, proline, and alanine) or ones that we are able to’t use very effectively in our physique (like hydroxyproline).7

Backside line: Some analysis exhibits collagen might assist with joint issues when taken with vitamin C, however the proof general is weak.

Your physique doesn’t care about promoting.

Many collagen dietary supplements are marketed for particular issues, like wrinkles or joint ache.

And it might make sense that when you’re missing collagen in your pores and skin or joints, you would simply complement with collagen to deal with it, proper?

Nevertheless, consuming extra collagen doesn’t essentially equal extra collagen wherever you need it.

As a substitute, your physique determines the place the amino acids from collagen (or any protein supply) you ingest will go.

That means, amino acids are extra seemingly for use to construct enzymes, hormones, and neurotransmitters—or construct/keep lean tissue—than they’re to clean out your crow’s ft.

So, simply because that collagen model says it’s for pores and skin or sore knees doesn’t imply your physique will use it for that goal.

Collagen for pores and skin well being

Collagen is what makes our pores and skin plump and elastic. That’s why collagen and collagen-enhancing elements are widespread in skincare merchandise. Equally, collagen dietary supplements promise to extend pores and skin elasticity and fight wrinkles “from the within out.”

Whereas collagen has the potential to enhance pores and skin, the proof isn’t definitive.

Taking collagen might stimulate hyaluronic acid manufacturing within the pores and skin, which retains pores and skin moisturized and plump.8,9 And one evaluate did discover that collagen dietary supplements elevated pores and skin elasticity, hydration, and dermal collagen density.10

However collagen dietary supplements do nothing to cut back collagenase, an enzyme all of us produce that degrades our collagen shops over time. So, constructive results from taking collagen dietary supplements can solely be maintained when you proceed taking these dietary supplements indefinitely.

Additional, most of the research on collagen for pores and skin well being (in addition to different areas of well being) have been funded and run by the businesses who’ve created the merchandise. Business-funded research aren’t at all times biased, but it surely’s a threat.

Last item: There are extra dependable methods to reinforce collagen manufacturing and keep collagen shops in your pores and skin:

Utilizing skincare merchandise with vitamin C 11, retinol/retinoid acid12,13, glycolic acid, and/or hyaluronic acid14
Carrying sunscreen15

Backside line: Extra analysis is required, however collagen dietary supplements might assist (minimally) with pores and skin well being.

Collagen for hair progress

Collagen accommodates a few of the amino acids wanted to provide keratin, a protein present in hair.

However at present, there’s no proof that taking collagen will make your hair develop quicker, thicker, or stimulate hair regrowth.

Backside line: Don’t depend on collagen to make your hair develop.

Collagen as a protein complement

Regardless of the claims of being “superior” and “extremely absorbable,” collagen shouldn’t be a super protein supply. Actually, till fairly just lately, it was thought-about a “junk” protein that wasn’t used for a lot of something.

There are a few the reason why.

Motive #1: Collagen is an incomplete protein.

Meaning it doesn’t comprise all 9 important amino acids (EAAs).7,16 (Collagen is lacking tryptophan, as proven within the graphic under.) Your physique can’t make EAAs, so it should get them from meals.

Incomplete proteins have a spot in a nutritious diet, however to get probably the most bang to your buck, collagen is solely not definitely worth the money attributable to its standing as a low-quality protein.

A bar graph showing how collagen protein and whey protein compare to each other in terms of essential amino acids. Collagen is overall lower in EAAs, and is missing the amino acid tryptophan.

Collagen lacks tryptophan and is general decrease in EAAs than whey.


Motive #2: Collagen is low in different EAAs.

Due to this, even when tryptophan is added, collagen nonetheless scores low by way of high quality in comparison with different proteins like whey, casein, or soy.

(To know protein high quality and why it issues, learn our information to selecting the most effective protein powder for you.)

Additionally, if you wish to improve exercise restoration, muscle acquire, or muscle retention, collagen isn’t your finest wager.17 Muscle protein synthesis requires the amino acid leucine, and collagen has little or no of it.18 (Study extra about leucine in our article on BCAAs.)

Backside line: Collagen shouldn’t be the very best quality protein complement.

Collagen for intestine well being

Collagen is wealthy in amino acids glycine and proline, and has some glutamine. Some say these amino acids have the potential to assist heal the intestine lining and promote digestive well being, significantly in folks with “leaky intestine.”

Nevertheless, whereas intestinal permeability is related to sure digestive illnesses, it doesn’t have direct signs.

Whereas there’s some analysis displaying glutamine and glycine could also be useful for intestinal well being, sturdy proof is missing.19

(To study extra about the way to enhance intestine well being, take a look at this complete useful resource on probiotics.)

Backside line: It’s unlikely that taking collagen improves intestine well being.

Collagen in being pregnant and postnatal restoration

Collagen is excessive in glycine, which is taken into account a non-essential amino acid (your physique could make it).

However new analysis exhibits it’s conditionally important—which means you may must get some from meals—within the later phases of being pregnant (~35+ weeks). This is because of elevated dietary demand to kind a child’s collagen shops.20

This has led some prenatal vitamin consultants to recommend supplementing with collagen throughout being pregnant, particularly within the later phases.

Whereas this isn’t a foul thought, it’s not mandatory when you’re getting enough full proteins by your food regimen. (Protein wants in late being pregnant are 1.52 grams/kg of physique weight per day.21) Complete-food proteins like meat, fish, protein powders, and dairy comprise greater than sufficient glycine to fulfill your wants.

(The one exception is vegans, who might not get sufficient glycine in late being pregnant from entire meals. However collagen isn’t a vegan possibility anyway.)

On a associated notice, some ladies swear supplementing with collagen helped them heal and get well post-pregnancy. There’s no proof displaying supplementing with collagen is healthier than consuming a food regimen with sufficient protein. Nevertheless, collagen is secure for brand new mothers, so if that is an strategy that pursuits you, have at it!

Backside line: Collagen could also be useful for ladies who’re pregnant or postpartum, but it surely’s no higher than consuming a nutritious diet with sufficient protein.

Must you take collagen dietary supplements?

In the end, that’s as much as you.

Right here’s a fast recap of the potential advantages and their high quality of proof:

A table showing the potential benefits of collagen supplements, the level of evidence for each, and any relevant recommendations. There’s weak evidence collagen supplements may help with joint health and skin health, but very weak evidence for everything else.

Collagen dietary supplements may assist minimally with joint and pores and skin well being, however are unlikely to assist with the rest.


Listed below are another components to think about when making your resolution.

Complement high quality varies.

There are some issues about heavy metallic contamination with collagen. So, search for third-party examined choices to make sure purity and high quality. (Learn the “purity and high quality” part of our article on protein powders for specifics.)

Gelatin is a secure, low-cost various.

Not solely is gelatin less expensive, it might be safer. That’s as a result of, in most nations, laws for meals manufacturing are a lot stricter than laws for complement manufacturing.

And keep in mind, key analysis used to assist collagen supplementation was truly finished with gelatin.

Get sufficient dietary protein and vitamin C.

It’s in all probability not price spending cash on collagen when you’re not already doing these two issues.

Intention for a minimal protein consumption of about 0.Eight grams of protein per kilogram of physique weight per day (0.36 grams per pound). That mentioned, many individuals can profit from extra:

Adults over 65: 1.2 to 2.Zero grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day (0.55 to 0.91 grams per pound)
Athletes and lively folks: 1.2 to 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day (0.55 to 1.Zero grams per pound)
Individuals who wish to change their weight or physique composition: 1.6 to three.Three grams per kilogram of body weight per day (0.75 to 1.5 grams per pound)

By way of vitamin C, grownup females want 75mg a day, whereas grownup males want 90mg. It’s secure to complement as much as 2,000 mg a day.22

FYI, analysis on collagen and vitamin C used 48 mg of supplemental vitamin C, so that you don’t must megadose to stimulate collagen. Additionally, solo vitamin C has been proven to extend collagen synthesis.23 Neat!

Extra collagen isn’t essentially higher.

Train, sleep, water—it’s potential to get an excessive amount of of something.

Contemplating that collagen’s advantages are minimal, taking additional doesn’t make sense. (When you select to take collagen or gelatin, 10-15 grams per day is probably going enough, which is the amount studied in most joint and tendon analysis.)

As a result of collagen is a low-quality protein, it shouldn’t change different types of protein in your food regimen. That’s once we might cross over from “can’t damage, may assist” territory into the “probably dangerous” zone.

At present, we don’t have analysis evaluating collagen to greater high quality sources of protein, similar to meat and whey, which might assist us discover out if collagen actually is “particular.”


Click on right here to view the knowledge sources referenced on this article.

1. Lodish H, Berk A, Lawrence Zipursky S, Matsudaira P, Baltimore D, Darnell J. Collagen: The Fibrous Proteins of the Matrix. W. H. Freeman; 2000.

2. Alcock RD, Shaw GC, Tee N, Burke LM. Plasma Amino Acid Concentrations After the Ingestion of Dairy and Collagen Proteins, in Wholesome Lively Males. Entrance Nutr. 2019 Oct 15;6:163.

3. Shaw G, Lee-Barthel A, Ross ML, Wang B, Baar Okay. Vitamin C-enriched gelatin supplementation earlier than intermittent exercise augments collagen synthesis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2017 Jan;105(1):136–43.

4. Lis DM, Baar Okay. Results of Totally different Vitamin C-Enriched Collagen Derivatives on Collagen Synthesis. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2019 Sep 1;29(5):526–31.

5. Liu X, Machado GC, Eyles JP, Ravi V, Hunter DJ. Dietary dietary supplements for treating osteoarthritis: a scientific evaluate and meta-analysis. Br J Sports activities Med. 2018 Feb;52(3):167–75.

6. Fusini F, Bisicchia S, Bottegoni C, Gigante A, Zanchini F, Busilacchi A. Nutraceutical complement within the administration of tendinopathies: a scientific evaluate. Muscular tissues Ligaments Tendons J. 2016 Jan;6(1):48–57.

7. Phillips SM. Present Ideas and Unresolved Questions in Dietary Protein Necessities and Dietary supplements in Adults. Entrance Nutr. 2017 Might 8;4:13.

8. Shigemura Y, Iwai Okay, Morimatsu F, Iwamoto T, Mori T, Oda C, et al. Impact of Prolyl-hydroxyproline (Professional-Hyp), a food-derived collagen peptide in human blood, on progress of fibroblasts from mouse pores and skin. J Agric Meals Chem. 2009 Jan 28;57(2):444–9.

9. Ohara H, Iida H, Ito Okay, Takeuchi Y, Nomura Y. Results of Professional-Hyp, a collagen hydrolysate-derived peptide, on hyaluronic acid synthesis utilizing in vitro cultured synovium cells and oral ingestion of collagen hydrolysates in a guinea pig mannequin of osteoarthritis. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2010 Oct 7;74(10):2096–9.

10. Choi FD, Sung CT, Juhasz MLW, Mesinkovsk NA. Oral Collagen Supplementation: A Systematic Evaluation of Dermatological Purposes. J Medicine Dermatol. 2019 Jan 1;18(1):9–16.

11. Telang PS. Vitamin C in dermatology. Indian Dermatol On-line J. 2013 Apr;4(2):143–6.

12. Kang S. The mechanism of motion of topical retinoids. Cutis. 2005 Feb;75(2 Suppl):10–3; dialogue 13.

13. Kligman LH, Duo CH, Kligman AM. Topical retinoic acid enhances the restore of ultraviolet broken dermal connective tissue. Join Tissue Res. 1984;12(2):139–50.

14. Shin J-W, Kwon S-H, Choi J-Y, Na J-I, Huh C-H, Choi H-R, et al. Molecular Mechanisms of Dermal Getting old and Antiaging Approaches. Int J Mol Sci [Internet]. 2019 Apr 29;20(9).

15. Bukhari SNA, Roswandi NL, Waqas M, Habib H, Hussain F, Khan S, et al. Hyaluronic acid, a promising pores and skin rejuvenating biomedicine: A evaluate of latest updates and pre-clinical and scientific investigations on beauty and nutricosmetic results. Int J Biol Macromol. 2018 Dec;120(Pt B):1682–95.

16. Eastoe JE. The amino acid composition of mammalian collagen and gelatin. Biochem J. 1955 Dec;61(4):589–600.

17. Oikawa SY, Kamal MJ, Webb EK, McGlory C, Baker SK, Phillips SM. Whey protein however not collagen peptides stimulate acute and longer-term muscle protein synthesis with and with out resistance train in wholesome older ladies: a randomized managed trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2020 Mar 1;111(3):708–18.

18. Alcock RD, Shaw GC, Tee N, Burke LM. Plasma Amino Acid Concentrations After the Ingestion of Dairy and Collagen Proteins, in Wholesome Lively Males. Entrance Nutr. 2019 Oct 15;6:163.

19. McCarty MF, Lerner A. Perspective: Prospects for Nutraceutical Assist of Intestinal Barrier Perform. Adv Nutr. 2021 Mar 31;12(2):316–24.

20. Rasmussen BF, Ennis MA, Dyer RA, Lim Okay, Elango R. Glycine, a Dispensable Amino Acid, Is Conditionally Indispensable in Late Phases of Human Being pregnant. J Nutr. 2021 Feb 1;151(2):361–9.

21. Elango R, Ball RO. Protein and Amino Acid Necessities throughout Being pregnant. Adv Nutr. 2016 Jul;7(4):839S – 44S.

22. Vitamin C [Internet]. [cited 2021 May 21]. Accessible from:

23. DePhillipo NN, Aman ZS, Kennedy MI, Begley JP, Moatshe G, LaPrade RF. Efficacy of Vitamin C Supplementation on Collagen Synthesis and Oxidative Stress After Musculoskeletal Accidents: A Systematic Evaluation. Orthop J Sports activities Med. 2018 Oct;6(10):2325967118804544.

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