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Collagen Supplements: Everything you need to know

Though some people may be skeptical about efficacy of oral supplements for skin, let me start with this statement: I am a firm believer of holistic approach to skin care. While  a separate topic on beauty supplements is discussed elsewhere, in this article I will be talking more about the cult-favorite beauty supplement : COLLAGEN.

Cult-favorite Collagen

Yeah, I’m pretty sure this isn’t the first time you’ve heard about it and there’s a reason why: it pretty damn works (got a handful of science to prove it). Before we proceed,  I would also like to remind everyone that just like how the effect of topical products vary from person to person, same does apply to oral supplementation. Also, I would strongly recommend that you inform your doctor prior to taking any kind of oral supplement.

 

What is Collagen?

Collagen is a form of large protein molecule that is abundant in animal bodies, including humans. Collagen are also called structural proteins because these are the main component of our connective tissues. Think of it as a large clump of protein molecule, consisting of strands of amino acids that form a complex helical structure. So if you try to untangle and chop strands of collagen fibers, they are basically made up of amino acids.

A diagram of collagen molecule

A diagram of collagen molecule (Image property of Minerva Research Ltd)

 

 Its role in our skin

Collagen plays an important role in the over all condition of our skin. It is like a glue that holds our skin together to keep it from sagging. To appreciate its role, let us try to look at it from the perspective of aging. Aging is a simultaneous phenomenon of photo-aging and intrinsic aging. Photo-aging is caused by environmental factors, mainly of UV damage that leads to degradation of collagen fibers. Intrinsic aging is the “chronological” natural effects of metabolism. This also decrease the levels of collagen in the body. Both photo-aging and intrinsic aging result to reduction of skin’s thickness, firmness, elasticity and moisture.

Collagen fibers in skin

Collagen fibers in skin

 

 

Will collagen actually reach our skin?

The large collagen molecules in your skin is not exactly the same as what is found in supplements.  Because these molecules are so large, it cannot be readily available for the body. Collagen present in supplements are actually hydrolyzed molecules. When you untangle and chop large clumps of collagen molecules, the result is hydrolyzed collagen. These smaller molecules are easily absorbed into the bloodstream[1]. When it reaches the skin, these hydrolyzed molecules act like lego pieces that provide building blocks for formation of larger collagen and elastin fibers.

Hydrolysis of Collagen Molecule

Hydrolysis of Collagen Molecule

 

Are all Collagen thesame?

Collagen can be classified according to their structure and source.

Types according to structure

There are types  1, 2, 3, 5 and 10 collagen. I will only discuss Types 1,2 and 3 because these comprise 80 to 90% of collagen in our bodies. Type 1 are the strongest and the most abundant, especially in our skin. It is very important in wound healing and in providing skin’s firmness and elasticity. Type 2 collagen is not so significant when we talk about improving the skin’s appearance. However, it is very important for healthy joints. Type 3 is usually present with Type 1  and it also gives elasticity and firmness in the skin.

Types according to sources

  • Beef hides (bovine collagen) –  is abundant with Type 1 and 3
  • Fish (marine collagen) – abundant with Type 1
  • Chicken sternum (UC-II collagen) – abundant with Type 2 , best for joint health but not ideal for skin supplement

 

Show me some Science!

Below are studies that show positive effects of collagen in skin:

StudyResults/Findings
Matsumoto et al. [2]The authors found an improvement of the skin condition of women
volunteers after ingestion of fish collagen peptide for 6 weeks. The
percentage of positive response between the subjects was very high,
however the study did not have a placebo control.
Matsumoto et al. [3]A significant difference between the treated group and the placebo was observed for subjects older than 30 years old
Koyama et al. [4]Pig collagen was used in this study. Women in this study perceived improvement in their skin after 3 weeks and a the end of the treatment after 7 weeks after daily ingestion of 5 grams of collagen
Proksch et al. [5]In this study, 69 women were given collagen hydrolysate or placebo, 5000 grams per day for 8 weeks. At the end of the study, skin elasticity showed statistically significant improvement compared to placebo.
Schwartz and Park [6]Daily supplementation of 1000grams hydrolyzed collagen of 12 eeks reduced scaling and wrinkles.
Béguin [7]Marine collagen shows continuous and significant improvement in skin surface evaluation during the 3 months of trial. Photographs revealed visible improvement of appearance and reduction of fine lines. An increase in dermis density of up to 78% was also observed.
Choi et al. [8]The data showed that daily collagen peptide
supplementation improved skin hydration and elasticity
Asserin, J et al. [9]The study found 28% increase in skin moisture after 8 weeks. There was also an increase in ddrmal density and reduced collagen fragmentation. It not only increase amount of collagen in the skin, but also improves the quality of collagen network.

 

What collagen supplement should I use?

Which collagen supplement should you use?

Which collagen supplement should you use?

So here comes the most dreadful part- deciding what  supplement to buy. Collagen supplements come in tablet or powder form. Most in powder form have unpleasant smell, especially those of fish origin. You can do away with this by choosing tablets. The disadvantage of tablets, however, is having to swallow several tablets per day. Most of these supplements require you to take 3 to 6 tablets per day (ugggh).

Comparison between  Collagen Powders

SpecificationsMeiji Premium Collagen PowderMeiji Amino CollagenBelo Collagen PowderOrihiro Collagen PowderNeocell collagen powderAsahi collagen
[1] This is the total percentage of active ingredient to the total weight of the product. For example, Meiji Premium with 94% active ingredient. The remaining 6% consist of emulsifying agents, thickening agents, sweeteners, flavors, etc.
mg per serving7000 mg7000 mg7000mg7000
mg
6600 mg7400 mg
Collagen Content5000 mg5000 mg5000 mg5400 mg6600 mg5300 mg
Hyalulronic Acid20 mg20 mg20 mg20 mgNone30 mg
Vitamin C50 mg50 mg60 mg40mgNone100 mg
Glucosamine60 mg60 mg60 mg40 mgnoneNot specified
GlycineNot specifiedNot specified450 mgNot specifiedNot specifiedNot specified
Arginine450 mg450 mgNot specifiedNot specified1452 mgNot specified
Special NotesWith coenzyme 110 : 1010mgWith coenzyme Q10 : 1010mg14 sachets per packclaims to contain 1500 mg placentamade of Bovine CollagenClaims to contain fiber (1000 mg) and elastin (1mg)
Probiotics: acidophilus
PRICE per SERVINGPHP 68.75 per servingPHP 68.75 per servingPHP 113 per servingPHP 40.00 per servingPHP 31.3 per servingPHP 42.00 per serving
% active ingredient94%94%79.8%98%99%86%
Where to buyJapanichi
Lazada

japanichi
Lazada
Watsons Stores
Lazada
Japanichi

Lazada
lazadaJapanichi
Lazada

Comparison between Collagen Tablets

SpecificationsNeo Cell Super Collagen + CYoutheory Collagen
Mg per serving6000 mg (6 tablets)6 tablets per serving
Collagen Content6000 mg6000 mg
Hyaluronic Acidnonenone
Vitamin C60 mg60 mg
GlucosamineNoneNone
Glycine1359 mg1236 mg
Arginine468 mg504 mg
Special NotesBovine originChicken and Bovine origin
PRICE per SERVINGPHP 46PHP 26
% active ingredientAbout 99%About 99%
Where to buyLazadaLazada

 

I hope that helps. Have you had any experience with collagen supplements? Let me know! 🙂

 

References

[1] Sibilla S, Godfrey M, Brewer S, Budh-Raja A, Genovese L (2015) n overview of the Beneficial Effects of Hydrolyzed Collagen as a Nutraceutical on Skin Properties: Scientific Background and Clinical Studies, The Open Neutraceutical Journal, Vol 8, pp 29-42A

[2] Matsumoto H, Ohara H, Ito K, Nakamura Y, Takahashi S. Clinical effect of fish type I collagen hydrolysate on skin properties. ITE Lett 2006; (7): 386-90.

[3] Ohara H, Ito K, Iida H, Matsumoto H. Improvement in the moisture content of the stratum corneum following 4 weeks of collagen hydrolysate ingestion. Nippon Shokuhin Kogaku Kaishi 2009; 56: 137-45.

[4] Koyama Y. Effect of collagen peptide on the skin. Shokuhinto Kaihatsu 2009; 44: 10-2.

[5] Proksch E, Segger D, Degwert J, Schunck M, Zague V, Oesser S. Oral supplementation of specific collagen peptides has beneficial effects on human skin physiology: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Skin Pharmacol Physiol 2014; 27(1): 47-55.

[6] Schwartz SR, Park J. Ingestion of BioCell Collagen((R)), a novel hydrolyzed chicken sternal cartilage extract; enhanced blood microcirculation and reduced facial aging signs. Clin Interv Aging 2012; 7: 267-73.

[7] Beguin A. A novel micronutrient supplement in skin aging: a randomized placebo-controlled double-blind study. J Cosmet Dermatol 2005; 4(4): 277-84.

[8] Choi SY, Ko EJ, Lee YH, et al. Effects of collagen tripeptide supplement on skin properties: A prospective, randomized, controlled study. J Cosmet Laser Ther 2014; 16(3): 132-7.

[9] Asserin, J., Lati, E., Shioya, T. and Prawitt, J. (2015), The effect of oral collagen peptide supplementation on skin moisture and the dermal collagen network: evidence from an ex vivo model and randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials. J Cosmet Dermatol, 14: 291–301. doi:10.1111/jocd.12174

 

Article written by:

Anne Porter

Hi! I’m Anne. I am a chemical engineer from Cebu, Philippines. I created Zarins Beautylab because of my love for cosmetics, skin care products and all other stuff that makes me (and you) look and feel beautiful. My semesters of chemistry courses come in handy as I explain the science behind different beauty products: which works and how it works. Well, Sometimes its science and sometimes its just good ol’ common sense.

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