Do Collagen Supplements Work for Skin Aging?

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content material. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, photos, and quotes to which Dr. Greger could also be referring, watch the above video.

Collagen dietary supplements have turn out to be fairly the stylish remedy for getting old pores and skin, accessible in an array of drugs, powders, and merchandise, from bars and gummies to collagen espresso and beer. Social media is claimed to be “inundated with paid ads marketing unsubstantiated claims.” What claims, if any, can be substantiated?

The phrase collagen comes from the Greek kola, that means “gum,” and gen, that means “producing.” Its gelling nature is exemplified by Jell-O gelatin (which is mainly simply cooked collagen).

It is our most ample protein, and the principle structural part of many of the tissues in our body. For instance, as much as three quarters of our pores and skin by weight could also be pure collagen. There are literally dozens of various sorts, however all of them share a attribute triple helix configuration of coiled subunits. What occurs once we eat it?

If somebody would have asked for my educated guess about taking collagen earlier than I took a deep dive for my e book How Not to Age, I’d have dismissed it as witch-doctory woo-woo. Eating pores and skin for your face would appear to make as a lot sense as eating brains to make your self smarter, or eyeballs to enhance your imaginative and prescient. After all, if you eat proteins, they’re damaged down into their constituent amino acids, that are then rebuilt into any protein your body wants. And, of all proteins to eat, collagen is the one protein in our food provide that’s actually incomplete. That is, it’s lacking an essential amino acid.

Other dietary proteins, together with all plant proteins, include the entire essential amino acids—in reality, that’s why they’re known as essential, since animals like us can’t make them. Collagen, although, is lacking the amino acid tryptophan. So, the one protein supply that you simply couldn’t reside on is Jell-O, because it successfully has a protein high quality rating of zero. But clearly that’s not all folks eat; so, significant quantities of collagen might be included into the weight loss plan with out keeling over. But tryptophan is particular. Randomizing folks to even a single meal of a gelatin-based protein drink can result in reminiscence impairments inside hours, as a consequence of “acute tryptophan depletion” (presumably as a consequence of a drop within the mind of serotonin, which is constituted of tryptophan, and doesn’t simply regulate temper, however studying and reminiscence as effectively). So, the concept of collagen dietary supplements by no means made sense to me. But the proof is within the pudding (or quite, maybe, the Jell-O). What, does the science say?

My assumption that collagen proteins would get utterly damaged down within the digestive tract was unsuitable. Feed folks gelatin from pig pores and skin or hen ft, and little items of collagen particles may be discovered floating of their bloodstream inside hours. Though no additional monitoring has been executed in people, in rodents, collagen fragments from gelatin consumption can find yourself in cartilage and pores and skin. Now, biologically, there isn’t any mechanism by which these fragments could possibly be straight included into new collagen, however there could also be an oblique means collagen bits might enhance collagen deposition––as seems to occur in rat pores and skin. What about in folks?

Some of the collagen research lack management teams. I’m reminded of that classic Star Trek episode Mudd’s Women, the place Kirk efficiently swaps out a youth-giving complement for a placebo with out the aliens noticing. Randomized managed trials are scarce, however a scientific assessment and meta-analysis of the accessible knowledge confirmed that, though outcomes have been blended, on common, there have been helpful results for pores and skin hydration, elasticity, and roughness. Despite some favorable outcomes, a lot of the dermatology group has remained skeptical, suggesting the collagen complement trade could be flooding the zone with poor high quality, biased research.

The research are sometimes funded by collagen complement producers, and the general high quality of proof is taken into account to be “limited, contradictory,” “not particularly robust… .” A 2022 assessment entitled “Myths and media in oral collagen supplementation for the skin, nails, and hair” within the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology concluded that “Dermatologists should be aware of the unsubstantiated proclamations of collagen made by companies [which] surpass any evidence currently supported by the literature.” And, given the inadequate proof, “collagen cannot be routinely recommended at this time.” Moreover, the proof is taken into account to be “particularly unconvincing” when in comparison with strategies extra positively proven to have a optimistic impact on pores and skin collagen, akin to sunscreen use, smoking cessation, and a healthy weight loss plan.

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