Collagen: Health Benefits, Absorption And Supplements

We have hand-picked the best collagen supplement for you

If you haven’t tried Collagen yet, you probably have a friend who does. It’s one of the fastest-growing ingestible beauty products, with fans claiming benefits like bouncy skin, healthier hair, and stronger nails. It’s more approachable than retinol and more exciting than hyaluronic acid, making it the ideal entry-level skincare supplement for many who are just getting started with anti-aging.

But what exactly is collagen? In a nutshell, it’s a protein that’s the most abundant in the human body. The collagen protein superfamily consists of 28 proteins (labeled according to Roman numerals) derived from 44 genes. These proteins’ primary function is structural support. Collagen, on the other hand, helps to maintain balance (homeostasis), cellular behavior, and sensory organs. It gives our body energy structure and elasticity, allowing us to move freely. Collagen’s current claim to fame, however, is as a skin booster. Having plenty makes our skin look plump, bright, and bouncy – Mother Nature’s perfect no-makeup-makeup glow.

While our bodies naturally produce collagen, the process slows significantly as we age. Starting in our early twenties, we produce 1% less collagen per year, which can contribute to the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Other lifestyle factors, such as unprotected sun exposure, smoking, or poor diet, can even slow collagen production. So, for a skincare-savvy woman who wants to keep her skin looking young, there’s only one obvious solution: supplementation. With collagen-based products proliferating, it’s no surprise that market sales increased by 751%  in 2018. Collagen has been hailed as an antidote to aging, appearing in countless shelfies and smoothie recipes.

But, beyond the hype, what does the evidence suggest? It’s no secret that navigating the wellness world can be difficult, so here’s a beginner’s guide to collagen supplementation and things to avoid when selecting a product.

Bone Broth for Gut Health

Gut health has been a hot topic recently, and for a good reason. A healthy gut – which is a gut full of diverse bacteria – can boost the immune system, increase energy levels, and even improve cognitive function. Collagen-rich foods such as bone broth are often promoted as beneficial for maintaining gut health, primarily due to how our bodies consume collagen. When ingested, collagen breaks down into amino acids, which have been suggested to help with gut health – however, there isn’t evidence to validate this. Another problem with bone broth is that it can be incredibly difficult to estimate the amount of collagen present since this can differ widely between brands. But what has been shown to help with gut health? A diet is rich in plant-based whole foods, fermented foods, and probiotics. 

Collagen-Strengthened Hair, Skin, and Nails

Ding ding ding – we have a winner! This is the area where collagen shines – and in particular, ingestible collagen powders. While historically, most of the research around collagen has focused on joint health; there’s a growing body of evidence suggesting it can have some serious benefits for our skin, hair, and nails. There are luckily no major side effects when it comes to collagen – only benefits! It’s not an overnight fix, though: about six weeks of continuous consumption is necessary to see any visible changes. Although it’s tricky to estimate collagen content in foods such as bone broth, powdered formulas make it simple, with grams per serving written on the packaging.

Collagen powders are also incredibly versatile: stir a scoop through your morning oatmeal, add it to your smoothie, or add it to your latte. They couldn’t be easier to use – and whether you prefer natural or flavored, there’s an option for everyone. While animal-based collagen is the most widely available, there are now many plant-based options on the market. See below for some of our top collagen picks!

Our Favorite Collagen Supplements

Protein-rich meats, bone broth, or gelatin are a great way to increase your collagen levels, and your digestive enzymes break them down into collagen peptides. However, not all peptides can be absorbed by your body. Collagen peptide supplements, on the other hand, are typically small enough for your body to absorb.

We made a list of our favorite collagen supplements.

1) Bioptimizers Collagen-Mushroom Neurogenesis Drink ($255.55)

image: Bioptimizers

CollaGenius is the best collagen supplement. A delicious drink with a powdered blend of 5 potent superfoods and 1.2 LBS of concentrated mushrooms. It is designed to promote;

  • Radiant hair, skin, and nails
  • Instant wakefulness
  • Smooth, consistent energy
  • Neurogenesis at its most radical
  • More rapid thought processing
  • Memory enhancement
  • Rich vitamin profile

2) The Beauty Chef Collagen Inner Beauty Boost ($49.99)

what's the deal with collagen supplements, the beauty chef
Image: The Beauty Chef

To give you a daily shot of extra nutritional support, The Beauty Chef’s Collagen Inner Beauty Boost is a delicious organic, bio-fermented probiotic concentrate designed to increase the skin’s collagen production and promote a radiant, naturally plumped complexion from the inside out.

3) Goop GOOPGENES ($95.00)

what's the deal with collagen supplements, goop genes
Image: Goop Genes

Support the appearance of smooth, firm, hydrated skin from the inside out with a combination of collagen, ceramides, and astaxanthin, three potent ingredients that improve skin moisture, elasticity, and texture.

4) Ancient Nutrition Multi Collagen Protein Powder ($39.99)

what's the deal with collagen supplements, ancient nutrition
Image: Ancient Nutrition

Ancient Nutrition combines expertise and experience to make each high-quality Ancient Nutrition product. This is more than a business for them. It’s personal. For your nails, gut, skin, and health.

While you’re here, check out this workout this 20-Minute HIIT Workout that targets every muscle group.

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