Let's talk about dietary supplements first.
I am always hesitant to recommend dietary supplements. In theory, supplements are a really good thing. But because of the lack of oversight and regulation, AND the number of trips to the emergency room tied to their use, I usually don't recommend them. However, changes are being made - and they're GOOD ones.
Reputable companies are now doing advanced genetic testing to ensure their products contain the ingredients listed on the label. Other companies are conducting clinical studies to prove their ingredients work as promised. Because of these changes, I feel comfortable recommending these collagen peptide supplements.
BUT, as always, check with your doctor before taking any dietary supplement.
What is collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. It is the glue that holds the body together. Over 80% of our skin is made of collagen. It is the main component of ligaments, tendons, and bones. Our collagen acts as a scaffold to provide strength and structure. It helps with healing and repairing damaged bones and cartilage. Collagen also maintains our joints and connective tissue.
Why do people take collagen supplements?
Collagen is the main component of the dermis, one of the layers of our skin. The dermis is made of connective tissue which is tough and elastic. It contains collagen fibers and elastic tissue known as elastin. Collagen plumps the skin. Elastin keeps it supple and stretchy. Both decrease as we age leading to fine lines, wrinkles, lost elasticity, sagging, and deep creases. The outer skin layer (the epidermis) thins, while changes in the connective tissue reduce the skin’s strength and elasticity. This collagen loss is caused by the environment (the sun and pollution), our individual genetic makeup, and how we eat, among other things. Maintaining an optimal amount of collagen is the key to beautiful skin.
Where can I get more collagen?
The jellylike substance that rises to the top of the pot when boiling a chicken is collagen. By eliminating foods like homemade broth, and eating more boneless, skinless chicken breasts, we have created a collagen deficit in our diets. Some studies are showing that oral hydrolyzed collagen supplements can correct this deficit and contribute to healthy skin.
Topical creams and cosmetic products work from the outside in, while nutritional supplements work from the inside out. New research has shown that some collagen peptide supplements promote younger looking skin. They improve skin smoothness, elasticity, and moisture levels while decreasing wrinkles.
Research has shown one hydrolyzed collagen peptide supplement works as well as – and possibly better than – most retinoid creams. It is an oral collagen peptide supplement called Verisol.
What is a hydrolyzed collagen peptide supplement?
When amino acids join together, they form peptide chains. And when those same peptide chains perform a specific biological function, they are called bioactive peptides. Bioactive peptides trigger specific functions in the body. They are signaling mechanisms that tell the body to start producing protein. Previous formulations of collagen supplements were not absorbed well. They were broken down and used for other purposes. Sometimes our bodies even discarded them. Because hydrolyzed collagen peptides are much smaller than regular collagen molecules, they are rapidly absorbed by the body where they act on the deep, dermis-collagen layer of the skin. So in this case, a hydrolyzed collagen peptide supplement is a natural bioactive ingredient that improves skin moisture and prevents skin aging.
Are there any clinical studies? What did they find?
There was a large double-blind, placebo-controlled study (considered the highest standard) published in 2014. In this study, women aged 35 – 55 years women took 2.5 g of Verisol once a day. After 8 weeks, researchers measured a 20% average decrease in wrinkle volume around the eye – and a reduction of nearly 50% in some subjects. Levels of procollagen (the precursor to collagen) were significantly elevated, with production up by 65%. No side effects were noted throughout the study.
Subjects older than 50 showed the most significant improvement in skin elasticity, moisture, and skin roughness.
Four weeks after the women stopped their daily regimen, average wrinkle volume was still 11.5% less than it was at the start. The fact that wrinkle volume was maintained at a lower level suggests the supplement had a long term effect on skin.
And studies are showing that collagen supplements are good for your nails too. Learn more in this article: How to Get Longer, Stronger Nails!
To summarize, the pills in this study made women’s skin behave like younger skin.
The study, published in Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, is said to be the first clinical trial to demonstrate the effectiveness of collagen hydrolysate (Verisol made by Gelita) at a low dosage (2.5 g/day) on skin.
How do collagen supplements work?
This new type of oral collagen peptide is more easily absorbed by the body. Unfortunately, we don’t know exactly how the Verisol supplements work. It may boost collagen formation in the skin’s deeper layers, where it helps reduce wrinkles. More specifically, researchers think that stomach enzymes break the collagen down into very small chains of amino acids and peptides. When the fragments are the right size, they are absorbed into the bloodstream and trigger the production of collagen in the skin. The deep layer of the skin, the dermis, is directly influenced by these supplements. Topical creams and serums are unable to affect collagen production at this depth – they only affect the epidermis, the top layer of skin, and they don’t last as long.
Collagen supplements are a point of debate among dermatologists and doctors. They have doubts because collagen is broken down in the stomach before ever making it to your skin. Some dermatologists see the study as something of a fluke, regardless of how strong the results were. And yet, something in this study appears to be triggering the skin’s collagen. All signs indicate it’s collagen peptides.
Before I add a collagen supplement to my diet, is there anything I should consider?
Before taking any oral supplement, you should discuss it with your doctor. Collagen supplements can have side effects:
- High Calcium Levels – According to MedlinePlus, high calcium levels can occur as a possible side effect of collagen supplements. Collagen tablets that come from marine life like shark cartilage and shell fish, contain high amounts of calcium. This calcium can significantly raise the calcium levels of the person using the supplement. Too much calcium causes constipation, bone pain, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and abnormal heart rhythms. Taking calcium supplements together with collagen supplements should be done with caution and only under a doctor’s advice.
- Allergic Reactions can occur as a side effect of taking collagen supplements. Hypersensitivity and allergic reactions happen as a result of the body’s abnormal immune system response to allergens, such as food, drugs and supplements. Collagen supplements that come from shell fish and marine sources can cause allergic reactions. Collagen supplements that come from eggs and their derivatives can also cause food sensitivities.
- Bad Taste in the Mouth – Some oral collagen supplements can leave a bad taste in your mouth. Collagen supplements made from marine life often have an unpleasant taste and smell. Drinking fruit juice with this type of oral collagen supplement can mask the taste. Avoid acidic fruit juices such as orange, apple, grape and tomato. They can make the supplements less effective.
So should you add collagen supplements to your routine?
More studies and research can bring the proof that collagen peptide supplements are missing. Topical creams like retinol and Retin-A kickstart collagen production and have proven results similar to those of Verisol. With that said, even some dermatologists find the clinical trials intriguing.
“Supplements are here to stay,” says Dermatologist, Doris Day. Any product with such a strong clinical result has a definite place along with a good diet, sun protection, and an anti-aging moisturizer. “Further independent studies are needed to see if the data holds true,” she says. “But I think we need to open our minds to more creative approaches.”
Dr. Day must be a believer. In an article for Allure.com, the dermatologist says she has a shake with hydrolyzed collegen each morning.
You should also know that dietary supplements, like Verisol, are considered safe by the FDA UNTIL they are proven unsafe. In 1994, dietary supplements were redefined as a category of food, which put them under different regulations than drugs. Dietary supplements cannot contain anything that may have “a significant or unreasonable risk of illness or injury” when the supplement is used as directed. This means that you cannot count on the same standards of quality that you expect from drugs and prescriptions. You have to have faith in the manufacturer of the product, Gelita.
What should I look for in a collagen peptide supplement?
Look for a collagen peptide supplement that features Verisol or BioCell. They are the only 2 collagen supplements with supporting research. The studies show they need time to work. After taking 2.5 grams of Verisol daily for 4 weeks, you should start to see results. There will be significant improvement after 8 weeks.
- A powder formulation that includes Verisol is available. Reserveage Organics Collagen Replenish can be dissolved in water, smoothies, or tea. I also found a powder with Verisol and a money-back guarantee called VEDARenew Collagen Peptides that I'm going to try.
- I used to take a pill called the Lindberg Skin Rejuvenator, but I can't find it anymore. I think people really like powders.
Review: I've been taking the Lindberg Skin Rejuvenator for a couple of years now. I think that the improvement is gradual, and can be hard to see. BUT I can feel a big difference when I stop taking it.
I recently had a medical procedure and was asked to stop all medications prior to the procedure. I stopped taking the Lindberg Skin Rejuvenator. After 4 days, my skin was dry and horribly itchy. Granted, it's winter and my skin is more dry than usual - but the itching was making me nuts. I wasn't itchy before the procedure and I hadn't made any other changes (no diet changes, no new skincare products, no new laundry detergent, and I always use a humidifier in the winter). I restarted the hydrolyzed collagen and the itching and dryness completely disappeared.
I LOVE this stuff!
To get double the results, use Verisol AND a topical retinoid. People with sensitive skin may need to work up to nightly retinol use. To learn more, read our post, Want Younger-Looking Skin? 3 Ways Retinoids Make Skin Beautiful.
I like the SkinCeuticals skincare line. SkinCeuticals makes a .3%, a .5% and a 1% retinol cream. The .5% is approximately 20 times the amount of retinol you find in drug store brands. BUT it's hard to compare because most drug store brands don't list the amount of retinol included on the product packaging. Remember, the higher the dose of retinol, the better and quicker your result.
Amy Takken is a registered nurse with 20+ years of experience helping people improve their health. Her in-depth skincare articles have been featured on Nazarian Plastic Surgery and The Palm Beach Center for Facial Plastic & Laser Surgery. Amy loves research and constantly watches for new products and treatments to help you improve your skin’s health – because healthy skin is beautiful! To reach Amy, visit our contact page.
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The Information provided on our website is not medical advice and should not be viewed as such. By law, only a medical doctor can diagnose or give medical advice. As a registered nurse, my goal is to educate, so I provide information on skin care, skin care products, and skin care treatments. If you have any condition that concerns you, please see a medical doctor. While most skin conditions are benign, some - like melanoma - can be deadly. If there is any doubt, please, please consult your physician. Thank you!
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