Collagen powder and pills on pink background

They say you are what you eat. The ingesting collagen trend of late, apparently, we’re aiming to eat and drink our way to a supple-skinned future. Heralded as the fountain of youth, collagen has been a key ingredient in creams for decades now. So, what is collagen? Why have we started eating it? And does it work?

Collagen is the most abundant protein in our body, it helps provide structure for your skin and is part of the building blocks for your muscles, bones and blood vessels. Sort of like a glue for your body. Somewhere around our mid-twenties, its production begins to slow. We lose about 1% of our collagen production each year, which contributes to signs of ageing or sun damage.

There are 16 types of collagen, the one used in beauty products is Type-1. It’s responsible for the skin’s shape and strength. When collagen is used in creams, it is assumed that it can penetrate the deep outer layer of skin. There is a bit of uncertainty around this, and so someone came up with the idea of ingesting it.

Some studies have supported that consuming it helps to increase collagen production and density, as well as healthier hair, nails, joints, hydrated skin and the diminished appearance of fine lines or wrinkles. Most nutritionists recommend collagen as one of the few options better suited to being taken as a supplement, rather than derived from whole foods. However, some still wonder if it can survive the digestion process.

So, is it a fact or fiction? Really, we have to say it’s a bit of both. If you’re using it in a cream specifically for the collagen, you might be better off researching the other ingredients as well. Although serums with it or vitamin C have been known to show promising results after a few months and are great for minor scarring, as they hydrate the top layers of skin. As for the teas, bone broths, coffee creamers and protein powder―the signs currently look quite positive.

In New Zealand, we have a quite a few brands such as Jeunora, Radiance, Bare and Two Islands in the supplement game. They offer a wide variety of collagen products fit to mix into drinks, sprinkle over cereal, bake into food or have as a capsule. They can be found online, at health or sports shops, as well as supermarkets.

If you’re going to indulge in collagen-related products, remember you need to consistently use them to see and retain the results. A healthy lifestyle and diet with plenty of vitamin C, amino acids, proline (found in egg whites and dairy), glycine (in protein-rich foods), and copper (sesame seeds, cocoa, cashews and organ meats), can further assist your journey.