Collagen drinks and supplements are on the rise in the beauty and nutraceutical industries lately. As people strive to achieve better skin health, it is no surprise that they are leaning toward attaining this goal by fixing the problem from the inside out. But do collagen drinks really work? Are they really worth buying, or are they just another fad?

Skin aging and collagen

Skin aging is a complex but natural process of life that comes with a number of physiological changes in the body. These changes are apparent, especially in the connective tissues and their proteins, collagen and elastin.

Collagen is the most abundant protein in our body, and it is a major component of our bones, skin, muscles, tendons, and cartilages, making it one of the necessities in our overall health. As the collagen production in our body depletes, the results appear as sagging of the skin, and the decline of elastin encourages the formation of fine lines and wrinkles. In addition, the skin tissues weaken and suffer from this, as it affects their integrity, making them dry and unable to retain moisture.

In the beauty industry, collagen drinks and supplements are being advertised as a supplement to increase and boost collagen production, thus slowing the aging process. But how do these help us achieve a youthful-looking skin?

Types of collagen

Collagen has many types and functions. To date, 28 types of collagen have been identified in humans, and that number is likely to increase with more and more research focusing on it. However, in the beauty and nutraceutical industries, some types are more popular than others. Some of the most common are:

Type I: Is the most abundant and most widely studied type of collagen. It is mostly found in connective tissues like the skin, tendons, ligaments, and bones. This is mostly used for promoting healthy skin, hair, and nails. Sources of type I collagen include pork skin, beef, and bone broth.

Type II: Is the type of collagen found in the joints, cartilage, and intervertebral discs. In one study, patients with severe, active rheumatoid arthritis saw a decrease in the number of swollen and tender joints after 3 months of being fed with type II collagen derived from chicken compared to a placebo. Four people had their rheumatoid arthritis in remission after the study. Sources of collagen type II include chicken and bone broth.

Type III: This type of collagen is a component of our blood vessels, muscles, and organs.

The best sources for type III collagen are beef, bone broth, and fish.

Type IV: Lastly, type IV collagen is found in the kidneys and eyes. It is an important network-forming collagen and is vital in many physiological and pathological functions.

Damage and mutations in collagen types can lead to a number of complications and, sometimes, diseases and disorders. Furthermore, some lifestyle factors may also contribute to collagen damage and decreased collagen production. These include smoking, eating too many refined carbohydrates, prolonged exposure to sunlight, excessive drinking of alcohol, and a lack of sleep and exercise.

How do they work?

The absorption of collagen in the body can be compared to how other proteins are absorbed. When collagen is digested, it is broken down into amino acids and peptides in the small intestines for absorption.

The first step in the digestion of collagen is the degradation of its polymeric structure into peptides, dipeptides, tripeptides, and free amino acids. These are then distributed throughout the body, but most importantly in the skin, where they contribute to improved skin elasticity, joint health, and anti aging effects.

Collagen drinks and supplements

Contrary to popular belief, collagen drinks do not increase your collagen levels. As mentioned, collagen is broken down prior to absorption. The collagen peptides absorbed by the body help by increasing the natural collagen levels and triggering the natural production of collagen in the body.

Collagen-producing cells, called fibroblasts, are what collagen drinks trigger to stimulate elastin and hyaluronic acid in the skin for elasticity and hydration, respectively.

There are three common types of collagen supplements:

Hydrolyzed collagen is a form of collagen broken down into protein chains called collagen peptides. The body can only absorb smaller collagen peptides or broken-down forms of collagen. The process known as hydrolysis ruptures the chemical bonds of collagen, sourced from cow hides and fish scales, so it can be easily dissolved in liquids. This type of collagen supplement is often sold in capsule or powder form, is typically added to food, and is safe to use.

Undenatured collagen, a nutritional supplement derived from chicken sternum cartilage. It is a powdered supplement that helps with joint health. Studies have concluded that undenatured forms of collagen offer improved joint health for patients with osteoarthritis.

Gelatin is a degraded form of collagen that contains large collagen peptides, compared to the hydrolyzed form, meaning that it is not easily dissolved by liquids. Both gelatin and collagen have the same nutritional composition, and the former is usually used as a gelling agent and thickener in cooking.

Benefits of drinking collagen

  • Regulate cell behavior

There are two major cell types in the skin: keratinocytes in the epidermis and fibroblasts in the dermis. They are responsible for the synthesis and degradation of the extracellular matrix (ECM) of the skin. Collagen peptides enhance the survival rate and viability of fibroblasts via enhancing mitochondrial activity and other gene expression-related functions. It is also known to enhance the proliferation, migration, and adhesion of skin cells.

  • Improves skin health

Collagen plays a huge role in improving overall skin health and structure, including elastin for skin elasticity and hydration. Collagen peptides have been shown to enhance the activity of antioxidant enzymes, reduce reactive oxygen species (ROS), maintain the balance between glutathione (GSH) and oxidized glutathione (GSSG), and reduce malondialdehyde (MDA) concentrations and DNA damage to fibroblasts and keratinocytes. These activities help prevent damage to skin cells from oxidative stress.

  • Inhibits inflammatory reaction

Aside from oxidative stress, inflammatory reactions can also promote skin aging by amplifying the damage caused by reactive oxygen species, proteolytic enzymes, and the suppression of immune surveillance. Studies have demonstrated the effect of collagen peptides in inhibiting the expression of proinflammatory factors like tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and interleukin-1β (IL-1β) in fibroblasts and keratinocytes.

  • Improves joint health

In recent studies, it was proven that collagen has effects on reducing joint pain and improving joint stiffness and functional capacity.

  • Improves bone health

Bone strength, density, and mass are also key benefits of taking collagen. Bone and cartilage loss can be a result of aging, strenuous activities, and even excess weight. Studies suggest that collagen peptides have shown positive results in combating the effects of bone diseases such as osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.

  • Improves muscle mass

The consumption of hydrolyzed collagen was found to improve muscle recovery and reduce muscle damage. Collagen also stimulates muscle growth after exercising and the production of muscle proteins such as creatine.

With these many great effects on the body, it is no surprise why collagen is taking over the market and the beauty industry. As people are always on the lookout for self-improvements, we also must ensure that the products that we are buying are the most beneficial.

How to properly take collagen

The proper dose for collagen supplements has been up for debate until now. This is due to the varying quality of collagen supplements available on the market, differences in source and preparation, differences in dietary patterns of people, and the lack of a universally recognized control substance, which makes it harder for the comparability of published clinical trials.

Some manufacturers of collagen supplements suggest taking 1 to 11 grams/day. Other studies suggest around 1.9 grams/day or 2.5 to 15 grams/day for certain populations. Anything between these ranges (1 to 15 grams/day) are deemed safe and effective.

Choosing the right dose for you can vary depending on your lifestyle, diet, and other conditions. Although collagen supplements are generally safe and can be bought over-the-counter, it is still best to consult a healthcare professional prior to taking one.

What collagen brand to take

Several brands are available on the market today. When choosing which one to take, it is best to consider the type of preparation and, more importantly, if it is from a reputable brand and approved by the FDA. The hydrolyzed form of collagen has a molecular weight of 3 to 6 KDa, allowing for easier digestion, faster absorption, and higher bioavailability when compared to native collagen. This makes it a better choice for oral supplementation.

Gloww Collagen is one brand that is worth-considering. It is a hydrolyzed collagen powder that can be added to drinks and is specially formulated with a special Verisol® Collagen Powder to ensure complete absorption. Gloww Collagen has been shown to be effective in stimulating collagen production, beneficial for improved skin health, skin tightening, the reduction of fine lines and wrinkles, and also offers moisturizing effects on the skin. It is suggested to take one sachet daily, or as directed by a physician.


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Article Reviewed by: Dra. Carol Carpio