Have you tried collagen? I was intrigued by all of the things I was hearing and reading about this purported fountain of youth (And y’all know I always want to help you be SO in the KNOW! ????), so I decided to try it for myself! I’ve been using it for about six months, and I’m sharing my experience. I’m also giving you all the details on all the hype. We’re going to talk about what collagen is, why it supposedly works, and the benefits that people say it gives them when they use it.
Collagen: What is it?
On a fundamental level, collagen is the glue of the human body. It’s the stuff that holds us together! It makes up nearly 30% of the proteins in our body and can be found in our muscles, joints, nails, hair, and skin. It’s responsible for skin elasticity and regenerating connective tissues such as cartilage, ligaments, tendons, and bones. Collagen is created in our cells and combines with amino acids and peptides to provide support for the structural tissues throughout our body.
Collagen makes up about 75% of the dry weight of your skin, providing volume that keeps skin looking plump and keeps lines at bay. It’s also rich in the amino acids proline and glycine, which you need to maintain and repair your tendons, bones, and joints. Collagen in our body breaks down as we age, resulting in things like less flexibility in tendons and ligaments, loss of muscle tone, joint pain or osteoarthritis due to worn cartilage, and even gastrointestinal problems due to thinning of the lining in your digestive tract.
With regards to skin, collagen is well known as an injectable filler, but, it doesn’t last as long as other fillers, and for many people, it’s cost-prohibitive, seems overly invasive, and they’re worried about potential side effects like an allergic reaction, but it doesn’t last as long as other fillers and tends to prompt allergic reactions. It can be used topically, but, it doesn’t absorb well. Recently, people have been ingesting it, either in foods like bone broth or in the form of supplements.
Collagen: What’s the Science?
Although many of the studies done so far on collagen are small and partially funded by industry, the results are impressive.
In one recent study, women who took collagen supplements for eight weeks experienced less skin dryness and a significant increase in skin elasticity compared to those who did not receive the supplements. Another study found that women who mixed with a collagen supplement into a daily beverage for 12 weeks experienced increased skin hydration and a significant reduction in wrinkle depth compared to those who did not take it. Collagen supplements stimulate your body to produce collagen on its own. Since collagen can be difficult to absorb, all of the subjects in these studies were given hydrolyzed collagen. (More on that later.)
Collagen: How to Get it
Your body can make collagen naturally, but adequate absorption may pose a challenge because several bioavailability agents must be in place for your body to synthesize it properly. Collagen in food must be broken down into individual amino acids and peptides by digestive enzymes in order to be absorbed well.
For your body to produce collagen, foods must combine:
- Amino acids—found in protein-rich foods, like beef, chicken, fish, beans, eggs and dairy products
- Vitamin C—found in citrus fruits, red and green peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, and greens
- Minerals found in meats, shellfish, nuts, whole grains and beans
The most popular and widely-recommended collagen-boosting food is bone broth, made by drawing collagen out of beef, chicken or fish bones. (Collagen is a good source of protein, with more protein per calorie than other sources while containing less sodium and sugar. ) It’s important to note that there haven’t been any human studies on whether collagen-rich foods have the same benefits as supplements.
The collagen in supplements has already been broken down, or hydrolyzed, which is why it is thought to be absorbed more efficiently than the collagen in foods.
If you are interested in trying collagen, it’s essential to choose wisely, since dietary supplements are not regulated as rigorously as drugs. To be blunt, collagen supplements are made from ground-up fish, chicken, pig, and cow parts, so you want to look for companies that get their bones and tissues from cage-free, free-range, and antibiotic-free sources. You also want to look for a trusted brand that puts a high value on transparency and quality. Also, because of the innate absorption issue with collagen, you want to be sure to choose hydrolyzed collagen peptides. I chose a powder that also adds digestive enzymes for enhanced absorption since aging can affect absorption efficiency, and since I already have gastrointestinal issues.
Collagen: My Experience
After hearing several friends rave about it, I decided way back in January to try collagen myself! I wanted to use it long enough that I could share an honest review with you all, so that’s why I’m just now sharing my thoughts.
I started researching quality products and finally settled on Physician’s Choice Collagen Peptides. I love that it’s formulated with digestive enzymes and the amino acids necessary collagen for superior absorption. It’s one of the purest products that I could find on the market. (More on that HERE.) I also liked that I could get the product right on Amazon, making it easy to add to an existing order. I ended up adding it to my Amazon Prime “Subscribe and Save” items, so I get automatic delivery right when I’m about to run out, and I save an additional 15%! (For more on the Amazon Prime benefits you may not even know you have, click HERE.)
I opted for a powder collagen supplement (7 gm./serving) rather than a pill because to get the amount of collagen you need into pill form, the pills are large, and you have to take a lot more than one. Also, you have to take them on an empty stomach. The powder is convenient, and I stir it into my morning tea. (Also, since collagen is such a good source of protein, it satisfies my morning hunger and gives me energy for my workout.) Most powders will arrive with a handy scoop so you can be sure you’re getting the perfect dose.
Some people find that the taste of certain powders is too noticeable for them to add to food. I do notice a slight taste, but I think that’s mostly because I’m stirring it into tea. My friends who add it to coffee or breakfast smoothies say they don’t notice a thing. The taste isn’t enough to dissuade me from taking it.
The studies I cited above all gave collagen 4-8 weeks to work, so that’s what I did. But honestly, I started noticing benefits way before then! Even after a few weeks, I noticed more elasticity in my skin and an improvement in my joint pain. I also noticed that my nails were stronger. (My regular manicurist saw it too—before I even said a word!)
After about eight weeks, I noticed that my hair was growing faster and thicker than it had in a long time! This was huge for me because hair loss not only comes with menopause and aging, but it’s a side effect of my auto-immune disease as well. Even my hairstylist noticed!
Also (and I was not at all looking for this!), I found an improvement in the cellulite on the back of my thighs! When I started noticing it, I researched it and actually found a 2015 study in which 105 women, ages 24 to 50, took collagen peptides for six months. Those who did demonstrated a definite improvement in skin texture and bumpiness!
It’s important to know that this post is not sponsored and I’m so not an expert. No one knew I was using collagen except Bob. (And he didn’t care! ????) I just wanted to try it and share my honest experience with y’all. I was as surprised as anyone that this little research experiment made me a believer.
Have you tried collagen? Did you notice a difference in your skin, hair, nails, or other things? I’d love to know!
LILLY PULITZER Reversible Top | Mid-Rise 5″ Blush Denim Shorts | Similar Blush Python Belt | MARLEY LILLY White Acrylic Monogram Necklace | NORDSTROM Faux Pearl Earrings | APPLE Pink Watch | Similar Blessed Coffee Mug | Physician’s Choice Collagen Peptides
I know y’all are sick of me talking about this machine washable, reversible top that comes in a boatload of colors and patterns! (Click HERE to see them all.) My white one is traveling with me on all of my summer getaways this summer because it’s such a versatile piece! I paired it here with inexpensive blush shorts and pulled them together with a blush-tinted python belt. My acrylic monogram necklace is one of those pieces that people ask me about all the time! It’s a classic, for sure.
Photos by Megan Weaver.