Can taking this buzzy supplement really help you have healthier skin or joints?

From sprinkling it in your morning coffee to adding a scoop to your power smoothie to simply popping a supplement, collagen has found its way into many of our dishes, drinks and daily routines. And its popularity doesn't look like it's slowing down anytime soon, with the global collagen market valued at over $9 billion in 2022 and continuing to grow yearly, per Grand View Research.

This buzzy supplement is technically small pieces of protein from animal collagen, and products advertise some lofty promises, like reducing wrinkles. But what really happens when you include this supplement in your diet daily? In this article, you will learn more about what collagen is and whether the claims associated with taking it are actually valid.

a person adding Collagen into a glass of water
Credit: Getty Images

What Is Collagen?

Our bodies are made up of many different proteins, varying types of collagen being some of them. Primarily made of three amino acids—proline, glycine and hydroxyproline—collagen is found in our connective tissue, skin, cartilage and bones, per a 2018 review published in Amino Acids.

What Is Collagen Powder?

Like humans, many other animals have abundant collagen in their bodies too. And collagen powder is made from collagen sourced from various animals, depending on which variety a person is choosing. Bovine collagen is sourced from cow collagen, porcine collagen is sourced from pigs, and marine collagen is sourced from fish skin, scales and body parts. Regardless of which animal the collagen protein came from, it is processed into a flavorless powder. This powder is used as a supplement and is usually added to smoothies, coffee drinks, creamers, bars, chocolates and a slew of other foods and recipes.

What Happens When You Take It Every Day

Like many dietary supplements, many collagen supplement manufacturers recommend that people take it every day, with lofty promises of healthier-looking skin, healthy joints and more if you follow the directions on the label.

But, what really happens if you take collagen every day? Here are some things you may see, although results may vary from person to person. Just keep in mind that some of the data supporting these outcomes could be stronger, so understand that collagen will not be a magic bullet for every person's ailments.

You May Experience Better Recovery After Resistance Training

It is true that collagen is not a complete protein because it lacks the essential amino acid tryptophan. But some evidence, such as a 2022 review in Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care, suggests that supplementation may promote recovery when paired with resistance training. It has also been linked to reduced pain and improved strength for those who practice resistance training as well.

You Could Experience Less Skin Aging

Over time, you lose collagen, resulting in skin that can be thinner, dryer or have less elasticity. According to a 2021 review published in the International Journal of Dermatology, compared with those who do not supplement with collagen, taking collagen every day for 90 days is linked to better hydration and elasticity. Additionally, collagen takers may experience fewer wrinkles on their skin.

You May Have Stronger Bones

According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, it's estimated that approximately 10 million Americans over the age of 50 have osteoporosis, highlighting just how important it is to focus on your bone health to help keep your bones as strong as possible for as long as possible. Collagen impacts your bones' strength and structure. And taking certain collagen peptides may help increase bone mineral density in postmenopause and reduce bone breakdown, per a 2018 study published in Nutrients.

You Might Improve Your Hair Growth

Your hair is made of a protein called keratin. And this protein is made from amino acids naturally found in collagen. Therefore, taking in collagen can fuel the body with the amino acids necessary to produce keratin. According to a 2022 study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, taking collagen may help those needing extra support with hair regrowth or to prevent hair loss. However, well-designed clinical trials using human subjects are needed to confirm this relationship.

Your Wounds May Heal More Quickly

Since collagen is a component of your skin, having it in adequate quantities may help the wound-healing process. A 2020 randomized controlled clinical trial published in Burns found that hydrolyzed-collagen-based supplements may help expedite wound healing in people with 20% to 30% of their body surface burned, reducing their hospital stays.

You Could Reduce Your Joint Pain

A 2021 systematic review published in Amino Acids found that people treated with 5 to 15 grams per day of collagen peptide supplementation experienced reduced joint pain and functionality compared to those who didn't take the collagen. Taking this supplement daily may help people suffering from joint pain. However, not everyone will succeed in this department, and more research is needed to understand the exact mechanisms.

What to Look for in a Collagen Powder

Like all supplements, collagen supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Therefore, it's prudent to choose collagen supplement options that are third-party tested and are created by companies that follow good manufacturing practice.

You'll also want to avoid options that have unnecessary fillers or sugars. And if you take a multivitamin or another nutrition supplement, ensure that the collagen supplement you choose doesn't contain other added nutrients to avoid over-supplementation.

There are different collagen types, the most common being types I, II and III. For people focused on healthy aging benefits, type I collagen or a combination of type I and type III collagen would likely be the best choice. For those seeking pain relief benefits, type II collagen is typically what is used.

The Bottom Line

Collagen supplements are certainly having a moment of popularity. And with potential benefits like healthier-looking skin, healthy bones and quicker wound healing, it's easy to understand why this supplement is finding its way into so many products and recipes.

While the available data is promising regarding how collagen supplements can help people live healthier lives, until we have more well-designed studies focusing on this supplement, we can't assume that taking it every day will grace us with less joint pain and super-strong bones.

For people who want to explore taking collagen supplements, there aren't any apparent major downsides to taking it, as long as it is taken according to the manufacturer's instructions, it contains quality ingredients, and it is third-party tested. Taking it will likely not hurt anything, and it may help! Your best bet is to consult your health care provider for personalized guidance on supplementation.