Every year, new products promise to be the ultimate solution to your beauty or health woes. And this time, the magic bullet is collagen – specifically, collagen drinks. Collagen drinks are being hailed as the secret to better, more youthful skin.
But is collagen as powerful of a new beauty and health product as these products claim? Before spending money on collagen drinks, it’s a good idea to understand what they are, if they can actually benefit you, and if they’re safe to consume.
What is Collagen?
Collagen is one of the most important proteins in the human body. And this unique protein accounts for roughly 30 percent of all protein composition.
Collagen is usually linked to skincare because it gives skin its strength and elasticity, which can make you look younger and result in fewer aging lines.
However, collagen benefits a lot more than your appearance. It’s also a major building block of connective tissues throughout the body. Collagen works like a glue that holds together joints, ligaments, bones, muscles, tendons, cartilage, and much more. It can also be found in blood vessels, teeth, corneas, and organs such as the kidneys.
Why is Collagen So Important?
The main issue with collagen is that our bodies produce less of it as we get older. The decline starts in the early 20s, and by the time you reach 45 years old, you’ll have lost 30 to 50 percent of the collagen in your skin.
And this decline in collagen production can leave you looking like you’re aging faster. It especially affects women, who tend to see more prominent effects as collagen production drops. Women also tend to lose a lot of collagen during menopause.
So, if you’re wondering why your skin hasn’t been looking its best as you grow older, it may be this decrease in collagen production. And that’s exactly what collagen products – like collagen drinks – aim to fix.
Collagen Drinks Can Offer Many Benefits
Collagen drinks are designed to be collagen supplements. These drinks include an amount of collagen, which can get to work within your body to fight the loss of collagen you may be experiencing.
And these drinks can actually produce quite a few benefits for both your skin and your overall health. The following are some of the best ways collagen drinks can improve your beauty and wellness routines.
Promote Skin Health
Better skin health is arguably the most well-known benefit of collagen. A 2014 study found that women who consumed 2.5 to 5 grams of collagen hydrolysate supplements for eight weeks showed improved skin elasticity.
Another study concluded that women who took collagen supplements mixed with their drinks daily for 12 weeks experienced a considerable reduction in the depth of their wrinkles and higher skin hydration.
So, drinking collagen beverages can have the same effects. You may be able to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, better hydrate your skin, and see improved elasticity.
Ease Joint Pain
Your joints are protected by a connective tissue called cartilage, which is made primarily of collagen. As collagen production decreases during aging, you can develop degenerative disorders like osteoarthritis.
One study published in the International Journal of Medical Sciences found that people who took collagen supplements for three months had their osteoarthritis symptoms diminished by as much as 40 percent.
Prevent Bone Loss
While many people tend to associate bone health with calcium intake, it’s important to understand that collagen also plays a crucial role. Osteoporosis, which is defined as low bone density, is a condition that’s linked to the deterioration of collagen in the body.
Women going through menopause have a higher risk of osteoporosis as estrogen levels decrease, which affects calcium absorption. A 2015 study with postmenopausal women found that participants who took calcium supplements with collagen for 12 months had lower levels of the proteins that promote bone breakdown than women who only took calcium.
Sipping on beverages that include collagen supplements can better your bone health and potentially prevent or reduce bone loss during aging.
Cellulite is the dimpled-looking skin caused by fat underneath the skin that pushes connective tissues up. Despite being extremely common – 80 to 90 percent of women have it – it’s also wildly disliked.
The good news is a 2015 study with 105 women came up with promising results. They took collagen peptides for six months, and by the end of the period, their skin waviness and texture had improved considerably.
Collagen beverages could help fight the appearance of cellulite, offering results for any problematic area of the body.
Do Collagen Drinks Really Work?
While the benefits of collagen drinks sound amazing, there’s one more question to ask: do they really work? Can something as simple as a supplement drink offer such impressive results?
Much like any other new product or treatment, it depends. While some research studies show there are benefits to collagen supplements, not everyone achieves the same results.
And when it comes to collagen drinks, they’re a unique kind of supplement. Most supplements are actually peptides, which are broken down collagen and are absorbed by your body.
But some manufacturers claim that the collagen fragments are not absorbed, they instead trigger the body into believing that collagen destruction has started, and stimulates fibroblasts (collagen-producing cells), to start creating new collagen.
However, not all scientists are entirely sold on the idea. They believe that once the collagen is broken down into smaller molecules and absorbed by the body, they are no different than any other amino acids. So, they will be used to create any protein your body deems important at the moment.
Another problem is that there are approximately 28 types of collagen. So, the supplement you’re planning to buy might not have the type of collagen that works wonders on your skin. It’s important to remember that these supplement studies use a combination of ingredients, which means that it may not be the collagen that’s actually improving the participants’ skins.
Can Anyone Use Collagen Drinks?
Collagen drinks can include a wide variety of ingredients – and collagen is just one of them. So, when it comes to the question of who they’re suitable for, those on certain types of diets may need to stay away from collagen drinks.
The majority of manufacturers use marine and bovine collagen in their supplements, which means they’re sourced from fish and cow. So if you’re a vegetarian or a vegan, they might not be suitable for you. It’s always best to check the small print to be entirely sure.
You should also do your homework if you suffer from any sort of fish allergies. Apart from being sourced from fish, marine collagen can also use shellfish or crustaceans and has been known to trigger allergies on uninformed customers.
Natural Sources of Collagen
If you feel collagen supplements might not be the best choice for you, there are plenty of natural options available.
As mentioned before, collagen is found in connective tissues and bones, but not only in humans, but many animals. One of the most collagen-rich foods is bone broth, which is made by boiling bones and skin from pork, chicken, and beef.
Another simple idea is to simply consume more gelatin, which is basically a powdered form of collagen. It can be easily mixed into soups, drinks, and stews, or even Jello.
Collagen production involves several other nutrients. And here are some other food sources you could also look into: Vitamin C (citrus fruits, strawberries, etc), proline (egg whites, cabbage, mushrooms, etc), and copper (cocoa powder, sesame seeds, lentils, etc).
Protect Your Skin and Your Collagen
There’s no point in improving your skin with collagen drinks if you aren’t taking steps to protect it. And some activities and foods can impair collagen production, so it’s important to reduce or avoid them altogether.
You’ll want to limit your exposure to sunlight by using plenty of sunscreen, stop smoking, and limit your consumption of refined carbs and sugars.
At the end of the day, it’s worth remembering that aging is a natural process. Sometimes the best course of action is to embrace it and make it part of your life. There are plenty of people who gracefully grow older naturally and still look spectacular.