Our bodies make collagen. Do we need to eat it too?

On Diet

The health supplement marketplace is value about $35 billion for each calendar year in the U.S., with a respectable chunk of that coming from profits of collagen drugs, gummies, powders and beverages. Considerably of the buzz about collagen supplements will come from statements that it can boost gut well being, reduce joint agony, lessen symptoms of skin ageing, and make hair and nails stronger and shinier. But does the science match the hoopla?

Collagen is a family members of at minimum 30 diverse proteins that act as creating blocks for skin, hair, nails, cartilage, tendons and other system tissues — collectively, collagen accounts for about one-3rd of the protein in the human overall body. Specialised cells in our bodies make collagen from amino acids in the protein-abundant foodstuff we take in, but this manufacturing begins slowing down in our 20s and is not-so-coincidentally affiliated with visible skin growing old. Excess solar publicity, smoking, environmental air pollution, alcoholic beverages abuse and a food plan reduced in greens and fruits can also inhibit collagen production (hint, hint).

When you get a collagen health supplement, that collagen almost certainly will come from cow, pig and fish components, this kind of as tendons, pores and skin and bones. When taken care of with heat, collagen gets to be gelatin, and most supplemental collagen has been even further broken down — hydrolyzed — into small chains of amino acids termed peptides.

The force to glance for good young is genuine, and some compact, limited-time period studies — mainly field-funded — have suggested that collagen supplements can improve skin hydration and elasticity, at minimum briefly. Having said that, it is not distinct what dose of collagen is necessary, and numerous merchandise contain other ingredients, these as the antioxidant vitamins C and E, that could be responsible for any noticed skin benefits.

Collagen supplementation has also developed in reputation for supporting intestine health, with the claim that it can make your intestinal lining considerably less permeable. But regardless of plenty of net influencers saying that collagen can “heal and seal” or “fix” leaky intestine, there basically is no good evidence to help that claim. What little evidence there is will come from exploration on animals, not on humans.

Seeking at osteoarthritis, some randomized placebo-controlled trials have uncovered that collagen nutritional supplements can lower joint stiffness, but never appear to be to have an effect on soreness or practical limitations. You might have seen collagen powders touted as a protein raise put up-exercise session or in your morning espresso, but not like soy or whey protein powders, collagen doesn’t contain all the amino acids your body desires. In reality, when collagen is as opposed head-to-head with whey protein, whey protein is the clear winner for supporting growth and restore of muscle just after physical exercise. 

There’s a basic flaw in the plan that ingesting collagen straight positive aspects elements of your human body that have collagen. In essence, when you ingest protein — no matter whether from a collagen supplement, a salmon fillet, a rooster breast, some tofu or a bowl of chili — your digestive method breaks down that protein into amino acids, the developing blocks of protein. Your entire body then draws from its pool of amino acids to establish new proteins as necessary. Individuals new proteins may possibly go to your pores and skin, hair, nails or intestinal lining — or they may possibly be employed to establish muscle tissues, bone, blood cells, digestive enzymes, antibodies and hormones. Every single mobile in your overall body has some protein, and you do not get to direct exactly where the protein you ingest goes.  

The base line is that collagen dietary supplements appear to be harmless — though there have been some isolated challenges with contamination with lead or other weighty metals — so take them if you want, but know that the statements much exceed any precise evidence.  

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