Collagen Supplements – Are they safe and effective?
From injections to ingestion, collagen has been the “go-to” for women in hopes for younger, plumper, looking skin, fuller hair and stronger nails. Aside from its anti-aging benefits, collagen brands also promote benefits such as stronger bones, joint and gut health. Most people are not aware of what exactly it is they are ingesting. According to Gina Tran MD, PIH Health Family Medicine physician, there should be some precaution. “It is not at all clear that collagen supplements will improve your health,” says Dr. Tran. “Collagen supplements are not regulated by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), so I would be cautious about their safety.”
What most people do not know, is that many collagen peptides (powders) contain ground up chicken, cow, pig and fish parts so it is important to keep that in mind if you are allergic, or if you are vegetarian or vegan, before ingesting.
What is Collagen?
Collagen is the structural protein found in humans and animals, that forms connective tissue and skin. As we age, our collagen production decreases, typically after the age of 25. Other factors known to slow down collagen production are lack of sleep, poor eating habits and smoking.
Alternatives for a healthy appearance can be simple. Healthy diet and exercise is key in addition to drinking plenty of water. Vitamins A, C, E along with biotin and beta-carotene can also contribute to healthy hair skin and nails. Foods that are high in vitamin C can be good for collagen formation as well.
Nutrients known to support collagen include:
- Proline: Found in whole foods such as egg whites, meat, cheese, soy and cabbage.
- Anthocyanidins: Found in blackberries, blueberries, cherries and raspberries.
- Vitamin C: Found in oranges, strawberries, peppers and broccoli.
- Copper: Found in shellfish, nuts, red meat and some drinking water.
- Vitamin A: Found in animal-derived foods and in plant foods.
“Though collagen supplements have been reported to have a number of health benefits including skin, hair, digestion and joints, I would tell patients that there are very few research studies to support these statements,” says Dr. Tran. “Making lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy and balanced diet, engaging in regular exercise, avoiding cigarettes and sunburn, limiting alcohol intake and getting plenty of sleep are the best ways to improve your overall health—inside and out.”
Talk to your doctor if you have allergies or other health issues prior to taking any supplements to avoid potential health risks.