Benefits of Collagen Supplements

benefits of collagen supplements
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Benefits of hydrolyzed collagen


Before we discuss the benefits of hydrolyzed collagen supplements let us discuss collagen itself.

What is collagen?

Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies, it makes up about 30% of our total protein mass. Collagen acts like a glue to connect our tissue.

According to

According to Merrian-Webster 
collagen comes from the Greek word  kolla + International Scientific Vocabulary -gen” which means glue.

Collagen is a building block of bones, skin, muscles, tendons and ligaments. It is crucial for cornea, blood vessels, hair and nails.

Collagen is secreted by fibroblasts in connective tissue and epithelial cells in the skin.

There are at least 28 different types of collagen, here are the most common type of collagen in your body that you will hear about.

  • Type I: Is the most common type of collagen and accounts for 90% of your body’s collagen. It helps form most connective tissue including skin, bones, tendons, fibrous cartilage, connective tissue and teeth.
  • Type II: This type of collagen is found in cartilage.
  • Type III: This type of organs helps form organs.
  • Type IV: This type of collagen helps form the skin.

How is collagen formed?

hydrolyzed collagen supplements

Collagen is formed from amino acids. Your body combines amino acids to make collagen, this process also requires vitamin C and copper.

Two amino acids, proline and glycine appear to be important for collagen production. “This result indicates that while BCAA is important for skin tropocollagen synthesis, other specific amino acids, such as Gln or Pro, are also necessary to stimulate dermal tropocollagen synthesis.” Source -Amino Acids 

 Support collagen building naturally

Help your body build collagen naturally by ensuring you are getting adequate levels of vitamin c which are found in citrus fruits.

Help your body build collagen naturally by eating foods that are high in protein such as egg whites, lean meats and wheat germ.

Ensure your body is getting enough copper by eating foods such as sunflower seeds, almonds and liver.

Skin anatomy

The skin is made up of the epidermis which is the outer layer as well as the dermis which contains the blood supply and much of the skin’s collagen.

When collagen stores are depleted the skin’s appearance will change. Skin will lose some plumpness and fine lines become more visible.

Causes for decreased production of collagen

Aging will decrease collagen production

According to Scientific American, “After the age of 20, a person produces about 1 percent less collagen in the skin each year.”

Sugar and refined carbohydrates in our diet appear to decrease collagens ability to repair itself.

According to Clinics of Dermatology,  sugar links to collagen fibers rendering them incapable of repair.

Sun exposure decreases collagen. Ultraviolet radiation appear to decrease collagen levels and replace them with elastic fibers.

Smoking decreases collagen production. According to an article in the British Journal of Dermatology, “Smoking decreases the synthesis rates of type I and III collagens in skin in vivo and alters the balance of extracellular matrix turnover in skin.”

We see that collagen production decreases with aging and environmental factors such as diet, smoking and sun exposure. We know that eating foods rich in protein, vitamin c and copper can help support collagen. What about hydrolyzed collagen supplements?

Are there any benefits of hydrolyzed collagen


Let us talk about the different types of collagen supplements

There are two popular types of collagen supplements, hydrolyzed collagen also known as collagen hydrolysate and gelatin.What is hydrolyzed protein

What is hydrolyzed collagen?

best collagen supplementsWhen it comes to supplements you will hear a lot about hydrolyzed collagen supplements and gelatin.

Powered or hydrolyzed collagens are broken down proteins, they are “hydrolyzed”. The benefit of these hydrolyzed collagen supplements is that they do not gel like gelatin. You can stir these powdered collagen supplements into liquids and other types of food.

Hydrolyzed Collagen usually contains high amounts of glycine, lysine and proline compared to other forms of protein supplements such as whey protein and BCAA.

One study showed that these types of amino acids can help build collagen.

Another benefit of hydrolyzed collagen is that it is easier to absorb. Food that is broken down is usually absorbed easier.

What is gelatin?

Gelatin is a protein obtained by boiling skin, tendons, ligaments, and or bones with water. This is why you hear so much about bone broth. It is also used to make fruit snacks and marshmallows.

Gelatin will dissolve in hot liquids. Some of the side effects of gelatin include a feeling of heaviness in the stomach

One study showed that gelatin may help with normalizing gut hormones.

Sources of collagen supplements

Most collagen supplements come from  bovine (cow, porcine (pig) or marine (fish).

Review studies on collagen supplements

Hydrolyzed Collagen supplement and skin


One study from 2014 with 60 participants suggested increased skin appearance but no change in moisture,

“After 4 weeks of follow-up treatment, a statistically significantly higher skin elasticity level was determined in elderly women. With regard to skin moisture and skin evaporation, a positive influence of CH (collagen hydrolysate) treatment could be observed in a subgroup analysis, but data failed to reach a level of statistical significance. No side effects were noted throughout the study.”

One study from Japan looked at 39 women, 20 of which were taking hydrolyzed collagen supplements.The authors reported subjective improvement of the skin’s appearance in women volunteers after ingestion of fish collagen peptides for 6 weeks.

Reference Sumida E, Hirota A, Kuwaba K. The effect of oral ingestion of collagen peptide on skin hydration and biochemical data of blood. J Nutr Food  2004;7:45-52.

Animal studies have suggested that hydrolyzed collagen is absorbed in the small intestines and can remain in the skin for 14 days. Clinical trials in humans have been inconsistent and so not support this finding.

A study from 2015 looked at 18 women who consumed hydrolyzed collagen along with other supplements including vitamin C and  vitamin E. This study shows a decrease in wrinkle depth. Note that this study including other supplements as well. Results cannot be contributed solely to hydrolyzed collagen supplement.

Another study from 2015 published in the journal of Dermatology also suggested improvement in the skin’s appearance with collagen peptide supplements.

Summary of hydrolyzed collagen supplements and skin

In summary, some studies suggest that hydrolyzed collagen supplements can help improve skin’s appearance but larger studies are needed.

Hydrolyzed collagen supplement and


Arthritis develops when the cartilage matrix which is made from collagen breaks down. Chondrocytes do not appear to be able to repair the overall matrix which is made mainly of collagen.

One study showed it helped reduce pain, “was well tolerated and found to be effective in managing OA (osteoarthritis) associated symptoms over the study period, thereby improving patient’s activities of daily living. BCC (biocell collagen) can be considered a potential complement to current OA therapies.”

One study noted that consuming eight to 12 grams of collagen a day improved symptoms of osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.

One study with 147 participants found that athletes had less pain in their joints after taking hydrolyzed collagen supplement.

Studies from the UK showed decreased pain in patients with osteoarthritis but no improvements in imaging studies such as an x-ray.

Another larger study from the same group showed no difference in pain when collagen supplements were given.

Summary of hydrolyzed collagen

supplement and arthritis

The Arthritis Research UK

found mixed results. The benefits of hydrolyzed collagen supplements have not been consistently reproduced across arthritis trials.


Collagen supplements and muscle mass

One study in the British Journal of Nutrition, showed that weight training and collagen supplements increased muscle mass, “collagen peptide supplementation in combination with resistance training further improved body composition by increasing FFM (fat free mass), muscle strength and the loss in FM (fat mass).”

Summary of hydrolyzed collagen

supplements and muscle mass

Additional studies are needed. These studies that were found in the literature and mentioned above are too small. In addition, there is little mention on the placebo groups. What were their diets like? Were there other factors such as diet that contributed to improved results in study participants who took collagen supplements? These questions need to be addressed in additional studies.

There have been no studies comparing a well balanced diet that contains sufficient amounts of protein to a collagen supplement. Many of do not eat properly, we eat too many processed foods which increases our sugar level and lead to inflammation. We expose our skin to the sun and a few of us smoke. These factors all play a role in collagen depletion.

Leaky gut and collagen supplements

A few sites suggest that collagen supplements help improve the symptoms of leaky gut.

According to Dr. Axe, “The biggest digestive benefit of consuming more collagen is that it helps form connective tissue and therefore “seals and heals” the protective lining of the gastrointestinal tract.”

I could not find any studies supporting this claim

I did find that an amino acids glutamine can help support the gut bacteria but this is not the same thing as sealing and healing the gut. Glutamine can be found in protein rich foods including chicken, beef, dairy and Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein Powder, Double Rich Chocolate, 5 Pound

What about collagen through our diet

Harvard Health summarizes bone broth for the common cold

“Chicken soup helps clear nasal passages. A 1978 study of nine women and six men reported in the journal Chest found that sipping hot chicken soup increased the flow of mucus significantly better than sipping either hot or cold water.”

The New York Times reported on a study in the journal of Chest where blood samples were taken from volunteers who ate chicken soup. The lead author showed that the soup inhibited the movement of neutrophils, the most common type of white blood cell that defends against infection. Whether it was the bone broth or vegetable was unclear and it was a small study.

Collagen skin injections

Collagen was one of the first injectable skin fillers on the market, it has a long track record. Collagen injections initially required skin testing and only lasted 3-6 months. Newer generation skin fillers have since been developed that do not require skin testing and last longer.

Collagen supplements in skin creams

One study from 2009 showed less wrinkles when collagen was applied to the skin (topical form), “The results from this study demonstrate that this uniquely formulated line treatment was well tolerated and provided both immediate and long-term improvements in the appearance of fine and coarse wrinkles.”

Improved hydration could be accounting for the skin’s improved appearance when a skin cream with collagen is used. The collagen molecule cannot be delivered through the skin. One article summarized this, “Although the technology required to suitably deliver these compounds into the skin has not yet been developed, some products do promote the natural synthesis of these substances except elastin enhancing. Another integral approach preventing wrinkle formation is the reduction of inflammation by topical or systemic antioxidants which should be used in combination with sunscreens and retinoids to enhance their protective effects.

There are no well designed studies showing that hydrolyzed collagen in skin care formulations can improve the skin’s ability to produce collagen.

Does stomach acid destroy collagen


There is  concern that the collagen  supplements will be broken down in the body which can render them unusable. An article in the Guardian summarized this concern, “What’s going to stop even fragments of collagen being digested? They are going to be subjected to the acid in the stomach and digestive enzymes,” says Duane Mellor, assistant professor in dietetics at the University of Nottingham.

In summary there are some studies that suggest collagen supplements can help improve the skins appearance and decrease pain in osteoarthritis patients, additional studies that are larger and well designed are needed to support these claims

What do you think of hydrolyzed collagen supplements?

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About Sharon T McLaughlin MD FACS 170 Articles

I am a physician who is interested in providing health information and health tips so that we may live healthy lives.


  1. Thanks for this interesting article about collagen.

    So, yet again Sun, Sugar and Smoking are villains in the piece. I don’t get much sun and I don’t smoke, but aging I’m stuck with. Sugar is a work in progress for me, although I am losing my sweet tooth – especially when I read that sugar can decrease collagen repair.

    I knew about collagen and skin, but hadn’t taken the leap to arthritis – which is an interesting possible connection.

    I haven’t tried any collagen supplements, and from the research so far it seems as if the jury is still out.

    Joy Healey – Blogging After Dark

  2. Hi Dr. Sharon,

    If I’ve been losing 1% of my collagen since age 20, it’s small wonder my face is looking more & more like Keith Richards after an all-nighter! Then again, I can live with that…

    My thoughts on the effectiveness of hydrolyzed collagen supplements were mostly negative until I read this post. Still curious, a quick google search led to a related article on’s website that includes this info:

    “In a large double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in early 2014, women took 2.5 g of a particular hydrolyzed collagen peptide (brand name Verisol) once a day; after 8 weeks, researchers measured a 20% reduction in wrinkle depth around the women’s eyes.”

    I guess I’d have to test this on myself. Not likely because of lack of interest. But, Mrs. Thorpe – maybe?

    Anyway, excellent research, well laid out and well paced. Thanks,

  3. Sharon! I used to take a collagen supplement for my skin, yet I had no idea that there were two types of this collagen supplements. I am curious to find out which one I was taking.

    Great Share.
    Thanks Chery :))

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