Fountain of youth or wellness scam?

Dental trend spotlight: Collagen supplements

Our bodies are chock-full of collagen. From our toes to our teeth, this powerful protein keeps our joints working seamlessly, our muscles strong, our smiles healthy and bright and our skin wrinkle-free. When we hit our 20s, the body starts slowing down collagen production and age can start to show.

That’s where supplements come in. In recent years, collagen supplements derived from fish scales or bovine tissues have appeared on the shelves in the form of powders, pills and creams. They promise everything from a lush head of hair to increased muscle mass, but do they really work?

Health claims about collagen supplements

The potential health benefits of collagen supplements can be broken down into two categories: health and beauty.

On the health side, collagen supplement companies claim better heart health, stronger bones, bigger muscles, healthier teeth and gums and reduced joint pain. These supplements usually come in the form of pills and tasteless powders that you can blend into smoothies or stir into coffee.

On the beauty side, collagen is commonly used as a selling point. It can be found in a number of topical products, including shampoos and moisturizers. Advocates claim it results in thicker, longer hair, less brittle nails and a reduction in wrinkles. 

Potential side effects of collagen supplements

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    Unpleasant aftertaste

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    Constipation and diarrhea

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    Allergic reactions to ingredients

The verdict: The best way to battle collagen breakdown is, of course, prevention. Wearing sunscreen and eating antioxidant rich foods like fruits and veggies, for instance, can help slow the breakdown of your natural collagen. Consuming milk, egg whites, cabbage, chicken skin, beef, fish, bell peppers, beans and sesame seeds also help the body boost collagen production.

That said, if you’d prefer a little store-bought assistance in boosting your collagen, science is mostly on your side. Studies have shown that supplements can work over several months of consumption. Taking the supplements regularly and as directed may improve skin elasticity and reduce signs of aging and joint pain