The question is, do they really do anything? Previously, most collagen supplements in the beauty industry came in the form of a topical cream or an injectable, with collagen being the main filler of choice before hyaluronic acid fillers became available. Today, collagen supplementation in the form of oral pills and drinks is rampant. These drinks and “vitamins” are purported to improve skin and provide a more youthful appearance, both from an immediate and preventative standpoint. Some of the drinks come from companies in Japan and beyond. According to market forecasts, the collagen supplement industry is anticipated to be worth $6.63 billion by 2025, up from $3.71 billion in 2016. An email advertisement this month from NewBeauty magazine claims one brand of collagen supplementation “with grape seed extract [as] an effective collagen drink for the skin.” Each 1.7 oz. bottle contains 13,000 mg of marine hydrolyzed collagen with six antiaging ingredients that – the ad claims – will help visibly transform your skin to a fuller, firmer, younger look in as soon as 21 days.
Diet absolutely plays a role in our overall health and skin appearance. But can these concentrated collagen drinks provide an increased benefit?
We know from prior experience with injecting collagen in the lips – namely from bovine (such as Zyderm and Zyplast) or human-derived (such as Cosmoderm and CosmoPlast) sources – that it provided beautiful and often natural-appearing results, which, however, did not last. If longevity is an issue with collagen injections, assuming proper absorption from the gastrointestinal tract and subsequent integration into skin, how long should we expect the results from drinking collagen to last in skin, if any? If it does work and is something that improves skin when used on a continuous basis, is there an endpoint at which the benefit is maximized or where an excess of collagen could be detrimental?
Collagen disorders are those where there is inflammation or deficiency in collagen. Could supplementation improve these diseases? Or could supplementation exacerbate or bring on these disorders if consumed in excess? In collagen vascular diseases, such as scleroderma, where apparent autoimmune inflammation of collagen occurs, would supplementation exacerbate the disease by bringing about more collagen to attack, or would it improve the condition by providing new collagen where there may be a defect? Would it help in conditions of collagen deficiency, such as osteogenesis imperfecta?