Do Collagen Supplements Live Up to the Hype?

There always seems to be a new supplement, food or beverage that captures the attention of the public, claiming to burn fat, smooth cellulite or plump wrinkles.  The latest craze isn’t dark chocolate or cider vinegar, it’s collagen peptides, which manufacturers promise will help with everything from joint pain to weight loss and help diminish wrinkles and strengthen hair and nails.  But does this supplement live up to the hype?

According to a 2017 study, published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, collagen peptides used as a dietary supplement can travel through the bloodstream directly to the skin.   Researchers have found that collagen supplements may improve skin elasticity and lessen deep wrinkles as well as have a beneficial effect on joints.  However, relief from joint pain appears to be short-term and in longer trials, collagen had no better effect on pain than a placebo.

Of the few clinical studies on the benefits of collagen supplements, most are short-term and the long-term effects are largely unknown.   Some study participants have reported digestive problems while taking collagen supplements. The cost of collagen capsules and powders can run anywhere between $15 and $50 for a month’s supply which may be prohibitive, especially for older adults on a fixed income. 

The good news is that there are a number of other ways to boost collagen production by making sure to consume adequate protein from meat, poultry, fish, beans, nuts and seeds and get enough vitamin C; both necessary for collagen production.  Chicken stock or bone broth also provides about six grams of collagen-rich protein.

Read more about the benefits of collagen peptide supplements in this 2015 research article, published in the Journal of Medical Nutrition and Nutraceuticals