Collagen is the most abundant protein in our body. It’s in our skin, hair, nails, and bones. As we age though, our body’s collagen production decreases which results in signs of aging. But the decrease in collagen doesn’t just affect the skin, it also impacts other things such as vision and mobility.
“It’s the glue that holds the body together,” says New York dermatologist Whitney Bowe, author of The Beauty of Dirty Skin: The Surprising Science of Looking and Feeling Radiant from the Inside Out.
This is exactly why more and more people are incorporating liquid collagen supplements into their daily lives to transform their skin from within. Taking collagen supplements triggers your body’s production of collagen which results in youthful, plump, glowing skin.
But it’s not just a trendy thing that is all hype, it actually works. “Just in the last few years, there have been some impressive studies showing that ingestible collagen can indeed impact the appearance of skin,” says Bowe.
With so many supplements on the market though, it’s difficult to choose the best one. We get it. The struggle is real. There are so many questions that pop up. What type of collagen is best? Do they cause any side effects? How much should you take? To help us answer these questions, we tapped a few experts to break it down for you. Let’s dive in.
What are the different types of collagen?
One important thing to note is where the collagen is sourced from because there are a few different kinds. There’s bovine, porcine, chicken, and marine. “Bovine is generally from the hides and hooves of cattle but can also be derived from the bones and connective tissue like tendons,” says licenced dietician Pamela Schoenfeld, MS, RD. “Porcine is similar to bovine but from pigs. Chicken, collagen Type II, comes from the sternum of a chicken breast. Marine is from skin and scales of a variety of fish.”
Which type of collagen is best?
Marine-sourced collagen is said to be the most beneficial thanks to its smaller molecule size which results in better absorption than bovine or other animal-sourced collagen. “Collagen peptides are more readily absorbed than collagen alone,” says New York-based board-certified dermatologist Dr. Debra Jaliman, MD. “The smaller the size of the amino acid chain the more the body absorbs it when ingested.”
Not only that, fish-sourced collagen is also better for the planet, too. “Marine collagen is more environmentally-friendly as it's sourced from parts of the fish which are usually discarded,” Cook says.
What are the side effects of taking collagen?
It’s understandable to be cautious about taking any kind of supplement, but one of the great things about collagen supplements is that they come with no major side effects. “There are no side effects from collagen consumption in healthy people, just as there are no side effects for protein consumption in healthy people,” Calloway Cook, founder of Illuminate Labs says.
However according to webmd, dermatologists and consumer groups have expressed concerns with collagen derived from animal bones (those ground-up hooves, hides, and nerve tissues -- particularly if they come from cows) -- could carry diseases like bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or 'mad cow disease'.
In 2016, the FDA prohibited the use of some cow parts in dietary supplements to “address the potential risk” of the presence of BSE. The FDA exempted gelatin -- a key collagen source -- from the ban, “as long as it is manufactured using specified industry practices.”
Many dietitians also recommend buying from companies that get their bones and tissues from cage-free, free-range, and antibiotic-free sources.
More helpful reading: How is gelatin made?
Can you take too much collagen?
Everyone’s body is different. “Some people may be sensitive to the free amino acids and find collagen can cause headaches or insomnia, but this is not common,” Schoenfeld says. “People with a history of kidney stones should limit their supplemental collagen intake as it may trigger a recurrence, although this too is uncommon."
Some people also worry of collagen potentially increasing the risk of cancer which is incorrect. “There's no mechanism of action I know of that would cause collagen intake to increase cancer risk,” Cook says. “Collagen is a very well-studied and safe compound.”
This all, however, is under the assumption that the collagen supplement you take is from a trusted brand and made with quality ingredients. Some companies may mix in other ingredients that can cause potential side effects. If you do have any concerns or are unsure, it’s always best to check with your doctor first.
What else should you look for in a collagen supplement?
Although it might seem really obvious, Schoenfeld recommends double checking that you are not allergic to the animal source that the collagen is derived from. Also, opt for a supplement that is as natural as possible and is non-GMO.
“Powdered forms are the most affordable, but liquid collagen is often more convenient and effective,” Pamela says. “Some have added flavors and other nutrients which can make them easier to consume and have added benefits for skin and joints.”
One thing you definitely want to avoid in a collagen supplement is added sugars. “Often companies add sugars and artificial flavorings to collagen products since the protein itself is relatively tasteless,” Cook says. “Products with natural sweeteners like stevia or fruit juices should be fine.”
The important thing, Schoenfeld adds, "is to be consistent with taking it daily because that’s when you’ll see the results."
This, and using a high quality marine collagen supplement will have the best impact.
What are the benefits of taking collagen supplements?
1. Collagen improves your skin and reverses signs of aging
The most popular benefit of taking collagen supplements is hands down for your skin. “Regular collagen consumption should lead to smoother skin with less noticeable lines,” Pamela says. “In some cases, there can be a reduction in blotchiness and pore size.”
Cook also adds that, “Collagen has been shown to improve skin health measures like elasticity and sebum production.” In other words, collagen supplements equals more youthful glowing skin, and who doesn’t want that?
After consistently taking supplements for at least a few weeks, you can expect your skin to appear fuller, smoother, and more lifted (goodbye, sagging skin!). And the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles will be visibly diminished.
2. Collagen supports healthy joints
Luminous skin, however, is just one of the benefits of taking collagen supplements. It’s also great for protecting your joints. “Your chance of developing joint disorders such as osteoarthritis increases as collagen amounts decrease.” Jaliman says. “Collagen helps to keep joints protected.” And it’s not just for protection of your joints, it’s great if you’re already experiencing joint pain too. One study showed that collagen supplements helped improve pain and function in osteoarthritis patients.
How much collagen should you take daily (dosage per day)?
There is no one set recommended dose of collagen you should take daily. It depends on your age, what benefits you’re looking for, and the type of collagen you’re taking. “Older people or people with skin or joint damage will want to take more than those younger and healthy,” Cook says. “For those taking collagen for skin benefits, I would suggest around 3g daily consumption as that's the range that was proven effective in two important collagen studies for skin rejuvenation. There is no known risk to taking too much collagen though.”
Schoenfeld, on the other hand, recommends consuming at least 10 grams of collagen per day in order to see changes over time. “Some products seem to work with as little as 2.5 grams daily, but most show effectiveness between 10 and 20 grams per day which in part likely depends on the size of the person taking the collagen supplement and the other sources of collagen protein in a person’s diet,” she says.
Taut Collagen Advanced Premium Formula
As you can see, the benefits of taking collagen supplements have been scientifically proven and don’t come with any harmful side effects. This is true assuming you purchase a clean, high-quality supplement from a credible and trusted company.
Taut’s Premium Collagen Drink Advanced Formula, for example, ticks all the boxes. It uses natural ingredients with no preservatives or chemicals and is non-GMO and gluten-free. The magic behind the formula is the 100% marine-sourced collagen derived from red snapper fish scales caught from the South Pacific Ocean.
Marine collagen, like previously mentioned, has collagen peptides that are small enough to be effectively absorbed when ingested, triggering your body's own production of new collagen, which in turn creates radiant skin results. The collagen is broken down into super tiny pieces thanks to a process called hydrolysis. It’s also highly potent.
Every tiny bottle of the formula (1.7oz) contains 13,000 mg of premium marine collagen peptides which is the dose Schoenfeld recommends for seeing results.
The formula also contains additional clinically studied ingredients that work together with the marine collagen to create even better results. There’s grape seed extract that helps protect the skin from free radicals. It also includes hyaluronic acid that hydrates and strengthens the skin and vitamin C which supports the body’s production of collagen.
Although yes, the benefits are wonderful, the best part is that it’s actually easy and enjoyable to consume, meaning you’ll actually use it and experience the benefits. Having beautiful skin shouldn’t be a hassle. You don’t need to mix chunky powders into liquids or smoothies. All you have to do is pop open a bottle every night and drink it like a shot. It has an orange flavor and it’s sweetened with Stevia. Pro tip: Keep it in the refrigerator to make it extra refreshing.
So as long as you’re taking a high-quality collagen supplement from a trusted brand, like Taut Collagen, then rest assured you don’t have to worry about any potential side effects (besides having beautiful skin, of course!). So take your daily shot of collagen and prepare to watch your skin get glowier and more radiant by the day!