Collagen Powders: A Hype Or Do They Really Work?

Experts separate the hype from the facts and tell you all there’s to know about collagen and supplementation.

Published On Jun 23, 2023 | Updated On Mar 05, 2024

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Collagen powders have surged in popularity as a promising solution for enhancing the health and appearance of the skin, hair, nails, and joints. Influenced by the endorsements of celebrities such as Samantha Ruth Prabhu and Kirti Kulhari, collagen powders have gained significant attention. However, amidst conflicting information and mixed opinions, let’s separate the facts from the hype.

We have consulted experts in the fields of osteopathy, dietetics, and dermatology to shed light on the benefits of collagen powders and determine whether they truly deliver on their promises.

Collagen, a protein found in bones, tendons, cartilage, and connective tissue, plays a vital role in maintaining the health and integrity of various body structures. According to Nadia Alibhai, a London-based osteopath and posture expert, collagen is essential for healthy skin, hair, nails, and joints and for reducing inflammation. Unfortunately, collagen levels naturally decline after the age of 25.

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The most efficient way for the body to absorb and produce collagen is through a combination of dietary sources and supplementation. While collagen powders have gained popularity as a convenient option to supplement collagen intake, they are not a necessity for everyone. It's important to note that collagen powders are not essential if your diet already provides sufficient protein with all the essential amino acids. If you have a protein-deficient diet, adding collagen to your routine can be beneficial in supporting collagen production and meeting your amino acid needs.

Pratishtha Rawat, a New York-certified dietitian and nutritionist says, "Collagen, which is the most dominant protein in the body, provides structure to the skin, bones, cartilage, tendons, and connective tissues. To ensure optimal absorption, hydrolyzed collagen peptides are recommended as they are more easily broken down and absorbed by the body. For individuals opting for plant-based collagen options, it is important to consider gut health, as absorption may vary. Additionally, vitamin C is essential for collagen production and is best included in the diet or supplementation."

While vegan collagen does not exist in its pure form, plant-based alternatives containing vegan ingredients can help boost the body's own collagen production, as stated by Fatema Valikarimwala, a registered dietitian. These alternatives, which lack actual collagen, are aimed at supporting hair, skin, and nail health. It is crucial to understand that vegan collagen powders cannot provide the same benefits for recovery as animal bone broth.

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Dr. Renita Rajan, a celebrity cosmetic dermatologist, emphasises that scientific studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of collagen supplements in improving skin hydration, reducing fine lines and wrinkles, and preventing sunspots in certain populations. Different types of collagen have been researched, each offering unique benefits.

She also emphasises the importance of regular sunscreen use in maximising the benefits of collagen supplements. By applying sunscreen daily, you create a protective barrier that shields your skin from harmful UV rays. This helps to preserve collagen levels, maintain skin elasticity, and preserve a youthful texture. Incorporating sunscreen as part of your skincare routine is a crucial step in preventing collagen breakdown and preserving the overall health and appearance of your skin. Choose an appropriate SPF and reapply it regularly, especially when spending time outdoors.

Consider these while selecting the collagen powder right for you:

1. Research-proven efficacy: Look for collagen supplements that have been backed by scientific studies and provide data behind their claims. This ensures that you are choosing a product with proven effectiveness.

2. Source of collagen: Collagen can be derived from various sources, such as bovine (cows), marine (fish), poultry (chickens), or eggshell membranes. Each source contains different types of collagen. Consider your personal preferences and dietary choices when selecting the source that aligns with your needs.

3. Vegan collagen: While true collagen is derived from animal sources, plant-based collagen powders contain vegan ingredients that support the body's own collagen production. Keep in mind that vegan collagen powders do not contain actual collagen.

4. Absorption and gut health: Opt for collagen supplements in hydrolyzed forms, such as collagen peptides, as they are easier for the body to absorb. If you choose plant-based collagen, consider the health of your gut, as absorption may vary.

5. Sustainability: If environmental sustainability is important to you, select collagen sourced from farmed fish, which is considered an eco-friendlier option. Additionally, ensure that fish collagen is certified mercury-free for your safety.

6. Nutritional profile: Look for collagen powders that are third-party tested and free from additives or fillers. Supplements that include additional nutrients like vitamin C or zinc can provide added benefits.

Collagen powders and supplements are not just a passing fad. They have a long-standing history and have demonstrated effectiveness in improving skin health and other areas. However, it's important to approach collagen supplementation with awareness, consult professionals, and choose reputable brands to ensure you make the most informed decisions for your individual needs. Remember, consulting with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian can provide personalised guidance for selecting the right collagen supplement for you.


Photo: Instagram/Samanatha Ruth Prabhu; Shutterstock

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