It’s no secret that the collagen market is hot right now. Collagen supplements are available in various forms and marketed for a wide range of benefits, such as improving bone, skin, gut, hair, and joint health to name a few.
As a protein naturally found in skin, bones, cartilage, tendons, muscles, tissues, nails and hair, collagen helps maintain strength and stability and is undoubtedly important for many biological functions. Supplementing collagen can be beneficial for some, but it is always good to be informed before you start swiping your card for health benefits that your diet may already be taking care of.
Our body makes collagen using amino acids, the building blocks of protein, which we get from both animal and plant protein in our diet, as well as Vitamin A, C and zinc. Collagen supplements are made from cartilage and connective tissue of animals (mainly cows and chicken) as well as fish.
If you are eating protein regularly, you are likely getting enough collagen. When you take a collagen supplement, your digestive system breaks it into amino acids to be absorbed- it is not absorbed as collagen. Your body will choose to use those amino acids to build proteins (not necessarily collagen) as it sees fit! Meaning, we can't control if our body uses the supplement to rebuild collagen for thick shiny hair. If you are keen to try collagen, keep in mind they are not strictly controlled by the FDA, and can vary in quality. Another tip- smoking and alcohol can compromise collagen development.
Bottom line: While it may not be harmful to take a collagen supplement, you can probably save your money and let your diet take care of collagen development.