It’s feared, unwelcomed, and something we all eventually have to deal with in life— it’s aging. With aging comes the unwanted wrinkling of skin, graying of hair, and slowing of metabolism. So it’s no wonder that people’s ears are perking up at the sound of collagen supplements. Recent reports have suggested filling your diet with collagen-building foods if you want to push those years back just a wee bit longer. But can collagen supplements work, too?
First, some background: Collagen is the protein that occurs naturally in the body that supports the appearance of smooth, un-dimpled skin. It’s also found in our bones, muscles, and tendons to provide strength and structure. As we age, we produce less and less collagen, and that’s where supplements come in. Collagen supplements are meant to help heal and repair skin and hair by regenerating the body with the necessary building blocks to restore the tissue, tighten your skin, and thicken your hair.
As wonderful as it sounds to simply take a magic pill and look like you aren’t aging, you should know there are some side effects that come along with it. Hypercalcemia, fatigue, constipation, bone pain, and hypersensitivity reactions are just some of the reported repercussions of taking it. “Although some promising evidence from a few studies exists, more research is needed in using collagen supplements for osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and skin aging,” says Jackie Ballou Erdos, R.D. says. So, before running to the nearest drugstore, first consult your doctor and see if it’s something that’s really necessary for you and your body.
The promise of youth doesn’t only come in the form of a pill. You can still prevent premature aging by sticking to a collagen-boosting diet that can get you all the benefits without all the added side effects. Many types of fish have enough omega-3 fatty acids to help the structure of our skin, kale can rev up the collagen production in your body, and a cup of bone broth is also filled with anti-aging properties. We also recommend—strongly recommend—cutting back on sugar, which is one of the major factors that's been shown to accelerate collagen’s demise. Put down the soda or spoonful of sugary cereal before you run to place an order for collagen pills.