Does Collagen Work, and Actually Get Digested in Your Body?

Collagen is a protein that basically keeps our body glued together, protects joints and bones, AND our skin. Our body is able to make its own collagen, but as we get older it makes less and less…so the real question of the day is, does collagen WORK when it’s in powders and other supplements?

If you haven’t heard of collagen powder, it’s kind of all the rage right now because of its benefits both INSIDE and OUTSIDE your body. Collagen works side by side with another protein called elastin: Collagen fills out your skin, while elastin helps your skin go back to normal when it’s stretched.

So why can’t we just EAT more collagen that’s found in food, dietary collagen?

THAT kind of collagen is just like regular protein – we can only process so much of it at once. So it might be helping, but at the same time, there’s no guarantee of how much you’re actually getting benefit from.

You see, we’re naturally born with a ton of collagen and also produce a ton. But by the time we’re in our mid-to-late 20s, the amount we produce starts to slooooow down. Then, it drops by 1-2% every single year, until we look older and older, as this flexible protein, “gluing” the skin together, dwindles.

So what’s the solution? Is there any way to increase your collagen levels, and fight off aging…Both inside and out?

Well, this is still a fairly new area of scientific research, which probably doesn’t surprise you much, since we’re just recently hearing about collagen supplements like collagen peptides.

But does collagen work in these forms? Or is it all just a fad?

Well, first of all, it’s important to make the distinction between different forms of collagen and how they are administered to the body. The same way you can take medications either as oral tablets, or in liquid form, or intravenously, etc., and how that can make a difference…it DEFINITELY matters what form you are taking collagen in!

If you’re wondering, does collagen work in the form of a SKIN CREAM, to make your skin look younger, the answer is unfortunately NO.

The reason for that is, your skin works very, very hard to protect itself from outside irritants like chemicals, dirt, etc. Otherwise you would get all sorts of infections! So for your skin to protect itself, your epidermis has to have very narrow holes and only let the tiniest things like water molecules through. Collagen molecules are relatively HUGE and so they can’t penetrate the epidermis. Sure, your collagen skin cream might make your skin feel softer and smoother, but it isn’t penetrating the first layer of the skin, and the second layer is the layer where collagen does its job.

So, you could say, these skin creams are only “skin deep”…Or, not even that deep!! Since they can’t get past the skin’s protective barrier, they aren’t effective against aging.

However, there are lots of studies showing that collagen powders/supplements, like ones you could add to a shake or a smoothie, WILL help slow down aging.

As long as the collagen has been “hydrolyzed,” aka broken down into its smallest parts, then the collagen works and gets digested in your stomach! This slows aging for both your body and your skin!!

In short, if you’re wondering, “Does collagen work?” it absolutely does. But it doesn’t do any good to lather it on top of your skin.

If you want to have healthy skin, hair and nails, then you need to be eating collagen — whether that’s the collagen found in meat and soy products, or the collagen found in collagen powder!

NCBI