Collagen first made its appearance in anti-aging and beauty products, but since then, many clinical findings have shown that collagen does more than make you look younger.
As a result, you now find collagen-based products easily in local stores -- not just available in creams, but in drinks and powders too. We've come a long way with the commercialization of collagen, and today collagen supplements have become a $293 million industry.
With many ways to supplement collagen, what are the benefits of drinking collagen powder?
Is drinking bone broth a good source of collagen when compared to commercially-produced collagen?
What Is Collagen And What Role Does It Play In Your Body?
Naturally produced and processed by our body, collagen is abundantly available in our bodies. It is responsible for providing support to our cells and tissues and is often referred to as the "glue" that holds our body together. It is present in every part of our body including our eyes, gut, spine, muscles, bones, and blood vessels. I mean, it's everywhere! There is just so much that collagen does for us, here are just a few more:
- Collagen has excellent tensile strength and is, therefore, a significant component of bones, cartilage, ligaments, tendons, and teeth
- Collagen and keratin give strength and elasticity to our skin.
- Collagen plays a role in the blood clotting system and wound healing system in our bodies. It is quite commonly used in hospital settings to promote wound healing.
But as we start getting older collagen production significantly slows and as collagen levels deplete we begin to see the signs of aging.
Does Drinking Collagen Powder Do Any Good?
Many studies have shown the beneficial effects of oral consumption in the form of pills, powder, and collagen drinks. For example:
- Collagen is effective in reducing signs of aging, as well as improving overall skin health. These changes can be seen at a dose as low as 2.5 to 5 g of collagen per day for eight weeks.
- 15 g of collagen supplementation per day for 12 weeks, along with strength training improves muscle strength significantly.
- Many studies have shown that collagen is excellent for preventing osteoporosis, a common aging ailment.
- It even helps with chronic joint pain associated with osteoarthritis and other chronic joint conditions. 1.2 g of hydrolyzed collagen for six months is proven to be effective for joint pain.
- Oral collagen consumption reduces atherosclerosis by increasing the levels of good cholesterol called the "HDL," thereby providing cardioprotection.
Because all these studies were conducted on human subjects, collagen does seem like a promising product to manage conditions like chronic joint pain, mainly because it has shown to have little to no side-effects.
There are other anecdotal findings on collagen, such as its ability to improve nail health, anxiety, and even help in weight loss. But no studies have been done to verify these claims.
How You Should Be Consuming Collagen Powder For Maximum Benefit
Collagen, in its pure form, is easily digested in our gut, and therefore wouldn't be beneficial if you consume it that way. Also, when applied to the skin in its natural form, it sits on the surface and doesn't get absorbed.
According to the research, what you need in collagen drinks is collagen powder of the hydrolyzed or hydrolysated form, which is the kind of collagen that is best absorbed by our bodies. It also the form of collagen that is used in all those studies showing very great and useful health benefits. There are other types of collagen, like the undenatured collagen, but that is taken at a much lower dose, mostly for joint pain
There are different types of collagen, and not all collagen performs the same function. Type 1 and 3 will be responsible for the anti-aging effect, along with the prevention of bone resorption. But if you are seeking collagen for joint pain, make sure that your collagen supplement contains type 2 collagen. A combination of all three is great too!
Some companies produce collagen powder based on cow connective tissues, while others produce powders based on are fish-parts. There are even vegan options available. Based on your beliefs and religious values, you can find a brand that aligns with you. It doesn't matter which one you choose, as long as you buy from a trusted brand.
Some claim that marine-based collagen powder is better absorbed. The logic being that because the bioavailability of marine collagen is high, a higher amount of collagen reaches the circulation and does better in the anti-aging action. But, there are no explicit comparative studies done on the different sources of collagen to say anything with certainty that a given source is more or less superior.
Is Collagen In Bone Broth Superior To Other Formulations?
Bone broth is prepared by boiling animal bones and connective tissue. The reason people think of this as a source of collagen is that the bones and connective tissue used to prepare the broth should contain a large amount of collagen. But is the collagen in the bone broth able to be absorbed by the body?
The answer is no. While it is true that these parts of the animal body contain a high amount of collagen, but this natural form of collagen is easily digested in our gut. Meaning, the collagen in the broth will be digested before any reach the circulation to provide any benefit.
So, don't depend on bone broths as your source of collagen. A commercially-produced hydrolyzed collagen is what you need if you want to supplement it.
Are Collagen-Based Products FDA-Approved?
Legally, supplements are not required to get approval from the FDA to be sold. The usual necessary trials that other drugs go through is not mandatory if the product is labeled as "nutritional supplement". They are not FDA approved, as it not required to be.
But this does not mean all collagen-based products are made equal. Collagen obtained from animal sources like the body parts of fish, cattle, pig, and chicken can get contaminated with heavy metals. Products derived from cow parts have an additional risk of being infected by diseases like the Mad Cow Disease (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy).
So, how should you choose your product? You need a company that follows the necessary health codes. Therefore, you should go for companies that have a 3rd party testing certificate from NSF, UL or USP, to make sure that your product is not contaminated with heavy metals and is free from other harmful agents/diseases.
In conclusion, does drinking collagen powder do any good? Yes, it does.
There is no doubt collagen has many great health benefits, which is very well supported by scientific studies. It can help you get amazing skin, reduce your joint pain, and might even improve your cardiac health.
But as a consumer, it is essential that you choose a product that comes from a trusted company with 3rd party testing certification. Many companies are producing genuine products, but not all. In short, choose hydrolyzed collagen in the form of drinks, powders, or creams produced by a good company for best results.