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Collagen Supplementation - Should You Start?

I was walking through the beauty aisle at the store and found collagen peptides for sale. Will supplements help my morning routine – what gives?

What is Collagen?

Collagen is protein found in your bones, muscles, skin and tissues.  It occurs naturally in animal products like bone broth and animal feet.  Another strategy would be to eat foods that support collagen production in the body – berries, citrus fruits and protein sources have demonstrated this.

If you’ve seen one of these bottles at your local grocery or supplement store – you know there are different types.  According to the text Molecular Cellular Biology, the body has 16 types in your body, but the most abundant are collagen I, II and III.  The group of amino acids that make up type I and III may be especially helpful for bone, skin, hair and nails.  Whereas, type II aids cartilage and joints.

Will it Help My Arthritis? 

A 24 week study on athletes concluded that collagen supplementation may improve joint pain.  A 6 month randomized, double-blind and placebo controlled study, showed at least a 20% improvement in joint pain with daily 1,200 mg collagen supplementation. Finally, a study in the Journal of International Medical Sciences noted a 40% reduction in the pain scale for those taking collagen vs. only a 14% improvement for those taking Glucosamine and Chondroitin.

How About Collagen and Beauty Benefits?

According to an 8 week study published in the Journal of Lifestyle medicine, collagen supplementation led to an improvement in skin elasticity for middle aged women.  Another double-blind and placebo controlled study demonstrated a statistically significant improvement in skin elasticity while also improving skin moisture.  Finally, a study in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology demonstrated “an increase of 12% nail growth rate and a decrease of 42% in the frequency of broken nails.”

Should you start adding collagen peptides to your daily smoothie?  Maybe.  Research appears to support the use of specific peptides for joint pain.  However, dosing recommendations appear inconclusive. We need more studies on supplementation, especially as it relates to hair and skin benefits.

Not ready to start a supplement but want to improve your body’s own collagen formation?  Eat healthy to enhance your ability to do so.  Antioxidant rich foods protect your body’s levels – think dark leafy vegetables, citrus fruits and red produce.  Try adding omega-3 rich foods, they decrease inflammation and provide essential amino acids.  Fish and grass-fed meats are excellent sources.

Keep in mind that supplements are not rigorously monitored like medications. You should always consult your primary care provider before starting a new supplements.

Learn more about CHI Health nutrition services.

Ellen Thomsen, MS, RD, LMNT, CDE, IFNCP™
Ellen Thomsen, MS, RD, LMNT, CDE, IFNCP™

Ellen Thomsen, MS, RD, LMNT, CDE is a Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist and Integrative and Functional Nutrition Certified Practitioner. She is the diabetes education program coordinator at CHI Health and sees patients at the Millard Clinic. She works with patients to identify root causes to health conditions and make changes to improve overall health. Ellen’s passion is to help others develop lifestyle habits that allow them to feel their best.

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