Collagen supplements have become increasingly popular over the last several years due to promises of beautiful skin, healthy joints, and clean protein. While your body’s natural collagen production plays a critical role in skin health, in this blog we cover some of the limitations of collagen supplements.
Topical application is likely ineffective.
Collagen is added to many topical skin care products, but scientific research shows it’s likely ineffective, as the collagen molecule is too large to pass through the skin.
Your skin serves as a protective barrier to the body and only allows very microscopic molecules through. The unit of measure is “daltons”, and molecules typically need to be 500 daltons or smaller for the skin to allow it through.
Collagen molecules can be 200,000-400,000 daltons in size – that’s 400-800 times too big. Hydrolyzed collagen – collagen that has already been broken down – helps account for the size issue, but these molecules are still too large at 4,000-5,000 daltons.
While some studies of topical collagen products show improved skin health, the consensus from dermatologists is that the benefits are largely due to the moisturizing effect of the cream or lotion, rather than the collagen that has been added to it.
Oral supplementation is a better option, but the scientific studies are still not very compelling.
Research on collagen supplements is still in its infancy, with conflicts of interest and low quality control limiting the legitimacy of many studies. Even so, the majority of studies show supplementation to be ineffective or inconclusive.
There are three different types of collagen, simply named “type 1”, “type 2”, and “type 3”. The benefits of type 2 collagen are specifically for your joints and cartilage and therefore won’t have much effect on skin health. In fact, our Joint Pain & Inflammation supplement has type 2 hydrolyzed collagen to help rebuild cartilage and promote healthy joints!
Types 1 and 3 are the collagen molecules needed for skin health. The issue, however, is that these types are very easily broken down by the body (this is not the case for type 2 collagen). The capsules we use for all of our products are made up of types 1 and 3 collagen for that very reason – the body quickly and easily breaks down the capsule so it can properly digest and utilize all the great ingredients inside the capsule.
In the case of collagen supplements being taken for skin, researchers speculate that the molecules are being broken down by stomach acid and digestive enzymes before even getting to the skin cells to have any appreciable effect.
It’s also important to note that your body already produces collagen on its own. Every single day you lose, and subsequently replace, about 50 million skin cells, and natural collagen production is an important element of that cycle.
As you age, your body’s ability to produce collagen on its own decreases. Rather than relying on inconsistent and inconclusive collagen supplements, many dermatologists recommend giving your body the tools and resources it needs to enhance its own natural collagen production.
Our Hair, Skin & Nails supplement supports your body’s natural production of collagen.
Our Hair, Skin & Nails supplement contains vitamin A and vitamin C, which aid in your body’s natural production and utilization of collagen. As antioxidants, vitamins A and C donate oxygen and hydrogen molecules that are needed to form amino acids into collagen fibers. They also stimulate collagen production by activating the enzymes that can be shut off by the sun’s ultraviolet rays and slowed down due to aging.
Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) prevents skin damage caused by UV rays by forming a protective barrier around the skin and absorbing harmful rays before they reach the skin.
Vitamin E helps your skin lock in moisture by binding to the water molecules to prevent them from evaporating off the skin.
Our supplement is rounded out with biotin (vitamin B7), which increases your body’s natural production of keratin. Keratin helps hold skin cells together to form a protective barrier. It’s also the most important building block of your hair and nails.