Q. Is there any reality to the declare that collagen dietary supplements will assist my pores and skin, nails, hair, digestion and joints?

A. Some small research recommend that collagen dietary supplements might have restricted advantages, however the proof is much from definitive, and advertising claims appear to have gotten forward of the science.

Collagen is the principle structural protein in animals — people included — and performs a significant function in tissues like bones, tendons, ligaments, cartilage and pores and skin. It’s additionally more and more widespread in dietary dietary supplements, which declare to replenish these identical tissues.

Eat extra animal collagen within the type of these dietary supplements, and also you’ll get pleasure from more healthy pores and skin, hair and nails, plus soothe creaky joints and help digestive perform, their labels promise. The dietary supplements are created from collagen-rich animal tissues which may in any other case be tossed apart by meat processors, just like the pores and skin and bones of cattle and pigs, in addition to fish scales and pores and skin. The proteins are first denatured to type gelatin after which additional damaged down into smaller fragments earlier than being included into merchandise like powders, gummies, capsules and protein bars. (Dietary supplements marketed as “plant-based collagen” don’t really include collagen; they declare to help collagen manufacturing with a combination of amino acids, nutritional vitamins and minerals.)

Any doable advantage of a complement like collagen depends upon how it’s digested and absorbed within the gastrointestinal tract and whether or not the merchandise of digestion can find yourself at goal tissues and have a therapeutic impact. Some analysis has checked out components of that sequence and hinted at some doable advantages, however the story is much from full.

Take pores and skin, for instance. Collagen is likely one of the main proteins within the dermis, contributing to its firmness and elasticity, stated Dr. Diane S. Berson, affiliate professor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical School in New York Metropolis. Beginning in our 20s, we start to lose pores and skin collagen, and it may be additional broken by environmental exposures like daylight, cigarette smoke and air pollution. All this results in sagging, wrinkling and dryness, Dr. Berson stated.

However she isn’t satisfied that consuming collagen can mitigate these results. A couple of research present that taking collagen dietary supplements for a number of months can enhance pores and skin elasticity, moisture and collagen density, however Dr. Berson notes they tended to be small and have been sponsored by the businesses making the merchandise, rising the prospect of bias within the analysis.

“I don’t suppose that I’m ready to pooh-pooh it and say this positively doesn’t work. However as a doctor, I’d need to see extra evidence-backed science,” she stated.

As a substitute, Dr. Berson emphasizes the significance of utilizing solar safety, consuming a nutritious diet, ingesting loads of water, avoiding cigarette smoke and getting sufficient sleep — all methods to “look after the collagen you have already got, quite than attempting to replenish it with dietary supplements,” she stated.

There’s little or no analysis on the results of consuming collagen on hair and nails. One small examine discovered that it decreased nail breakage, but it surely lacked a management group for comparability. One other product that features collagen as certainly one of many components seems to enhance hair development, but it surely’s unimaginable to say what function it’d play in that combination.

Dr. Leticia Deveza, a rheumatology fellow at Sydney Medical Faculty in Australia, doesn’t routinely advocate collagen dietary supplements for sufferers with osteoarthritis. “The very best proof accessible means that they’ve solely small results on joint ache at greatest, that are unlikely to be significant to sufferers,” she stated in an e-mail.

“I do fear that individuals may rely an excessive amount of on dietary supplements that haven’t any clearly demonstrated advantages and overlook different essential elements of osteoarthritis therapy,” like train and weight administration, she added.

Collagen dietary supplements are additionally marketed to athletes, however “there’s no proof to point out that taking collagen protein improves your means to rebuild or heal,” stated Stuart Phillips, professor of kinesiology at McMaster College in Ontario, Canada, and an writer of a latest Worldwide Olympic Committee consensus assertion on dietary dietary supplements. The claims are “largely garbage,” he stated.

Lastly, many collagen dietary supplements declare to help intestine well being, however there don’t look like any research investigating this risk.

Collagen dietary supplements may have unintended effects, together with digestive upset and the danger of an allergic response, significantly for these with seafood allergy symptoms. Whereas different antagonistic results haven’t been reported, Dr. Phillips famous that the complement trade shouldn’t be well-regulated and has a historical past of inaccurate labeling, contamination and different security issues.

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