Collagen supplements are very popular in the health and wellness space. Many people take collagen every day in hopes that they are supporting the health of their skin, joints, and hair. But how much collagen should you take to see benefits for skin health?
Keep reading to learn what collagen is, why you might want to supplement with it, and how much you should take to support healthier skin.
Collagen is one of the most abundant proteins found in the body. Like other proteins, it is an essential component of structure and function in the body.
There are 28 different types of collagen known to scientists. Up to 90% of the collagen in the human body is type 1 collagen. Most of the collagen molecule is made of the amino acids glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline. These amino acids build three strands, which make up the triple-helix structure characteristic of collagen.
Collagen is found in many parts of the body, including cartilage, connective tissues, skin, bones, and tendons. Not only does it provide structural support for the body, but it also facilitates important cellular processes including tissue repair, immune response, communication between cells, and tissue maintenance.
Skin health and collagen are closely related. The body is capable of producing collagen on its own, but around age 25, this production starts to decline. That’s why skin may appear less youthful and supple with age.
Fibroblasts are cells found in connective tissues that produce and maintain collagen. With age, fibroblast function is impaired, collagen becomes damaged, and production of new collagen decreases. Collagen production continues to decrease every year by about 1%.
These changes in fibroblast activity, collagen production, and a decrease in another essential structural protein called elastin to increase the physical signs of aging such as sagging skin and wrinkles.
Poor lifestyle choices, like smoking, an unbalanced diet, excessive sun exposure, and frequent alcohol intake can accelerate the loss of collagen. These behaviors can hasten the aging of the skin and promote the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Nutrition plays an important part in the health and appearance of your skin. In general, a diet that consists of mostly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats can improve skin health and appearance, and potentially slow aging.
Fatty fish, like salmon, have omega-3 fatty acids that help moisturize the skin and reduce inflammation. Avocados are also full of healthy fats and contain vitamins E and C, which are both excellent for skin health. If you’re not big on avocados, walnuts and sunflower seeds are also good sources of fatty acids and vitamin E.
Include strawberries, oranges, sweet potatoes, red and yellow bell peppers, tomatoes, and broccoli in your diet to increase your intake of antioxidants and phytochemicals. Beta-carotene and vitamin C are important antioxidants for your skin. Additionally, vitamin C is required for the body to create collagen.
To ensure your skin stays looking healthy, limit highly processed foods with added sugar and saturated fat. Eat snack foods and processed meats in moderation. Make it a point to fill your diet with fresh, whole foods to keep your skin looking young and healthy.
A desire to promote skin health and decrease the signs of aging is a very common reason to supplement with collagen.
Proponents of collagen supplements claim that it can improve skin appearance, hydration, texture, and firmness. Second to skin health, healthy hair and nails are another popular reason to take collagen supplements.
There are different varieties of collagen supplements available. The most commonly used forms of collagen are:
- Hydrolyzed collagen (collagen hydrolysate). This type is derived from bovine (cattle), marine (seafood), poultry (often chicken or eggshells), pigs, and other animal sources, and it’s broken down into smaller and easier-to-absorb peptide particles. Naked Collagen is a hydrolyzed collagen made from cattle.
- Undenatured collagen. This is raw collagen derived from chicken cartilage.
The recommended dose varies depending on the type of collagen you are using and the benefits you seek.
Anywhere between 2.5 – 15 grams of collagen daily is thought to be safe and effective. Modest doses, around 2.5 grams daily, may improve joint pain and promote skin health and hydration. Moderate doses of about 5 grams daily may potentially increase bone density, while larger daily doses of 15 grams may increase muscle mass and improve body composition.
10–40 mg of undenatured collagen per day may improve joint health.
Most collagen supplements have a recommended daily dosage printed on the nutrition label. Powdered supplement dosage often ranges from 1–2 scoops (or tablespoons) daily, while a pill or gummy supplement may suggest 1–2 pieces.
Depending on the supplement, serving size can vary greatly in collagen content, so read the nutrition facts label for specific dosage information. Keep in mind the purpose for which you are supplementing.
It’s not likely that you can take too much collagen. Collagen is considered safe and nontoxic for most healthy people. However, some people have reported stomach discomfort, excessive fullness, and unpleasant taste when taking a collagen supplement.
Collagen supplementation has many possible benefits including better skin health, joint and bone health, and increased muscle mass. Research shows that taking 2.5 to 15 grams of collagen per day is safe and may be effective for promoting skin health.
If you’re looking to improve skin quality, hydration, and appearance, you should increase your intake of antioxidant-rich foods and consider adding a quality collagen supplement to your routine.
Written By Kristen Carli, MS, RD