Collagen first made its appearance in anti-aging products. But since then many clinical findings have shown that collagen does more than just making you look young. It has even been indicated for arthritis and osteoporosis. As a result, you can now find collagen-based products easily in your local stores. Collagen is not only available in your favorite creams anymore, but also in drinks and powders.
But what other benefits does drinking collagen provide you? Is drinking bone broth a good source of collagen when compared to commercially produced collagen?
We’ll explore these questions in this article, along with some other things that might help you choose your collagen-based product in a more informed way.
What Is Collagen and What Role Does It Play in Your Body?
Collagen is the most abundant protein present in our body. It's 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, bone and blood vessels. It's everywhere!
It has great tensile strength and is, therefore, a major component of bones, cartilage, ligaments, tendons, and teeth. Collagen and keratin also give strength and elasticity to our skin. It also plays a role in the blood clotting system and wound healing in our body. It's actually quite commonly used in hospital settings to promote wound healing.
It is naturally produced and degraded by our body, and therefore abundantly present in our system. But starting in the mid-20s, the production of collagen reduces, and hence the visible signs of aging like wrinkles appear. This is where the idea of replacing collagen in order to reverse aging first originated. But since then we've come a long way and today collagen supplements have become a $293 million industry.
Does Drinking Collagen Do Any Good?
Many studies have shown the beneficial effects of oral consumption of collagen in the form of pills. powder and drinks.
- It is proven that collagen is effective in reducing signs of aging, as well as improves overall skin health. These changes can be seen at a dose as low as 2.5 to 5 g of collagen per day for 8 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 great for preventing osteoporosis, a common aging phenomenon. It even helps with chronic joint pain associated with osteoarthritis and other chronic joint conditions. 1.2 g of hydrolyzed collagen for 6 months is proven to be effective joint pain.
- Another interesting benefit of collagen is that oral collagen consumption reduces atherosclerosis by increasing the levels of good cholesterol called the "HDL", thus providing cardioprotection.
Because all these studies were conducted in human subjects, collagen does seem like a promising product to manage conditions like chronic joint pain, especially because it has shown to have little to no side-effects.
There is other anecdotal evidence of collagen improving nail health, anxiety, and even helping in weight loss. But no studies have been done to verify these claims.
How You Should Be Consuming Collagen for Maximum Benefit
What you need is a collagen-based drink or powder that contains the hydrolyzed or hydrosylated form of collagen. This is the kind of collagen that is better absorbed in our body (and also the form of collagen used in all the above-mentioned studies). There are other different types of collagen like the undenaturated collagen, that is taken at a much lower dose, mostly for joint pain.
Collagen in its true, natural form is easily digested in our gut, and therefore wouldn't be beneficial if you consume it. Also, when applied to the skin, the natural form of collagen just sits there on the surface and doesn't get absorbed because of its large size.
Therefore, hydrolyzed collagen is the one should get in the form of drinks or creams.
Also, you should note that there are different types of collagen, and not all collagen perform the same function. Type 1 and 3 will be responsible for the anti-aging effect, along with 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!
You can also get it based on its source. There are companies that 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 product based on your needs. It doesn't matter which one you choose, as long as you buy from a trusted brand.
Some also claim that marine-based collagen is better absorbed. There are studies that have mentioned that the bioavailability of marine collagen is high, indicating that a higher amount of collagen reaches the circulation. It’s anti-aging action is also believed to be superior. But there are no studies done comparing the different collagen obtained from different sources to say anything with certainty.
Is Collagen in Bone Broth Superior to Other Formulations?
Bone broth is prepared by boiling animal bones and connective tissue. The idea of using it as a source of collagen comes from the fact that the bones and connective tissue contains a large amount of collagen in it. But is drinking bone broth superior to other formulations?
The answer is no. It's 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. This means a small amount of collagen (if at all) derived from this broth actually reaches your circulation to be able to provide any benefit.
So, you shouldn't depend on bone broths as your source of collagen. Commercially produced hydrolyzed collagen is what you should look for.
Are Collagen-Based Products FDA-Approved?
Legally, any kind of supplement does not require approval from the FDA. The usual necessary trials that other drugs go through is not mandatory if the product is labeled as "nutritional supplement". So the bottom line is that it's not FDA approved, as it doesn't require to.
But this does not mean that you can just grab any collagen-based product that you come across. Collagen is obtained from animal sources also; the body parts of fish, cattle, pig, and chicken. These parts may be contaminated with heavy metals. Also, products derived from cow parts have an additional risk of being contaminated by diseases like the Mad Cow Disease ( Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy).
FDA previously banned the use of certain cow-parts to be used to derive any products to avoid the spread of such diseases.
So, how should you choose your product? You need a company that follows the basic 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.
Collagen Peptides Travel Packs, Great Lake’s collagen hydrosylate, and Wild Alaskan Marine Collagen are some of the certified collagen powders available on Amazon. These powders are supposed to be mixed in any beverage or plain water thus giving you an option to create your own collagen drink. While BioActive Hydrolyzed Collagen is a tested collagen in liquid form.
In conclusion, does drinking collagen 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's important that you choose a product that comes from a trusted company with a 3rd party testing certification.
There are many companies that are producing genuine products, but not all. For example, products mentioned in this website claim to be FDA approved, when in reality the FDA says that these products don't need FDA approval in the first place. I personally wouldn't trust companies who claim that. Who knows what else they have lied about. A little bit of research on our own can save us a lot of money and will keep us safe.
Choose hydrolyzed collagen in the form of drinks, powders or creams produced by a good company for best results.