Collagen is a type of structural protein found in bone, skin, hair, connective tissue (ligaments and tendons), intervertebral disks, the cornea of the eye, dentine in the teeth, arteries, and in smaller amounts in cartilage. There is no established Recommended Daily Amount (RDA) for collagen supplementation.
Collagen provides structure and support to many areas of the body (as above). The word collagen comes from the Greek word ‘Kolla’ which means glue and is regarded as such as it acts as a substance that holds the body’s components together. As we age, the amount of collagen that is produced by the body starts to decline.
The accelerated destruction of the collagen network in the dermal layer and skin dryness are crucial factors in skin ageing (1), (2). A randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial involving 106 women between the age of 40-60 who took 10g collagen peptides for a 3 month period resulted in significantly decreased fragmentation of collagen in the dermal layer by 18% after four weeks and by 31% at week 12. The same clinical study also investigated the density of collagen in the dermis and showed that collagen peptides significantly increased the density of collagen in the dermis by 9% after a mere four weeks of intake. The outcome of the clinical trial concluded that collagen peptides provide an anti-ageing effect by maintaining the structure and integrity of the skin’s matrix (1).
In another randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial, 33 women aged 40-59 received 10g of collagen peptides or placebo per day for a period of two months. Results of the trial revealed skin hydration increased by as much as 28% after eight weeks of intake, concluding that collagen peptide supplementation
helps counteract the appearance of dry skin typical in ageing by increasing the skin’s moisture levels (1).
An open-label study was also conducted to investigate the effects of nutritional supplements containing collagen peptides. The study demonstrated that after 60 days a reduction in skin dryness and wrinkles was observed in participants. In addition, a significant increase in collagen density and skin firmness was observed after 12 weeks. The data from this study suggest that nutritional supplements containing collagen peptides can counteract signs of natural ageing (3). In summary oral supplementation with collagen peptides is efficacious to improve hallmarks of skin ageing (1).
Preclinical studies show that hydrolysed collagen (HC) stimulates regeneration of collagenic tissue by increasing not only collagen synthesis but the synthesis of other components such as glycosaminoglycans and hyaluronic acid as well. Clinical studies show that HC continual ingestion helps to reduce and prevent joint pain, bone density loss and skin ageing. These results, as well as its high level of tolerance and safety, make HC ingestion attractive for long-term use in bone and joint degenerative diseases and in the fight against skin ageing (4).
Joint Health and Arthritis– Collagen can contribute to the maintenance of the healthy function of joints as it been shown to have the potential to help rebuild and maintain cartilage and ligament tissue and therefore may be useful for those experiencing joint problems or arthritis and for those looking to prevent further degeneration of the joints.
Bone Health- Research supports the use of hydrolysed collagen supplements in reducing and preventing degeneration of the bones and therefore a supplement may be useful for those looking to support their bone health or prevent osteoporosis.
Anti-ageing– Collagen supplements may help to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and hydrate the skin, taking a supplement may, therefore, be useful for those concerned about the appearance of ageing skin and for those wanting to slow down the signs of ageing.
There have been no reports of serious adverse effects from collagen supplements from research studies when taken at doses of no more than 10 grams (10,000mg) per day. Daily intakes above this level are unlikely to have any additive benefit and may result in gastrointestinal distress (e.g. diarrhoea, bloating). Collagen supplements can generally be safely taken long-term and are considered to be non-toxic. No Tolerable Upper Intake Level has been established for collagen supplementation.