Collagen is a naturally occurring protein in your body that forms flexible fibers. These various fibers help support your cells and tissues. You’ll find most collagen in connective tissues in your body, such as tendons, bones, skin, ligaments, and muscles.
As you age, collagen production slows, and it’s harder for your body to produce more of this protein type. As a result, some people turn to collagen supplements to help amp up their collagen production.
Collagen supplements are available in powder, capsule, and liquid form, sourced from collagen-rich animal parts, like bones, cartilage, and skin (usually from cows, chickens, and fish). Some supplements also contain eggs. Typically, collagen supplements are hydrolyzed, meaning the collagen is broken down in a way that makes it easier for your body to absorb than traditional food sources.
Research is still fairly limited on how much collagen supplements benefit your body, but there are likely a few health benefits such as improved skin, bone, and muscle health.
As you age, you start to lose collagen, and it’s harder for your body to produce more. For your skin, this translates to dry, sagging skin and the onset of wrinkles.
A 2019 review of 11 studies found taking collagen supplements for short and long periods helped wound healing and reverse some skin aging effects. Mainly, the research focused on people who took 2.5-10 grams of collagen daily for 8-24 weeks, or folks who took 3 grams daily for 4-12 weeks. The most significant skin benefits of taking collagen included:
- Increased skin elasticity
- Improved skin hydration
- Improved collagen density in the skin
Collagen supplements may also help you produce more elastin, a protein that makes skin more elastic. That could mean tighter, more plump skin. However, there is limited research on the effectiveness of collagen supplements in this regard, and more research is needed.
However, we don’t know how specific types of collagen supplements work to improve skin or reverse skin aging. Studies all used slightly different kinds of collagen supplements. Researchers have also found topical collagen applied to the skin likely has similar benefits to oral supplements.