You’ll have seen these promises time and again: if you do/eat/take this, you’ll feel more energised and your skin will glow. The latest product promising real results? Collagen supplements. Which makes sense, given that collagen is one of the major components when it comes to maintaining elasticity and hydration, and our synthesis of the stuff steadily starts to decline at around the age of 25.
Collagen is definitely something you want a healthy amount of, as its benefits are myriad and extend far beyond having a good complexion. As a complex protein, it provides structural integrity and support to the health of muscles, fingernails, bones, fascia, teeth, blood vessels, and hair.
But does the notion that a supplement can replenish dwindling collagen production hold up under scrutiny? The answer seems to be a resounding... maybe. There is increasing evidence emerging in trials that shows collagen supplements can, for example, improve skin quality and reduce inflammation around the body as well as promoting general health, but they must be formulated well to reap benefits.
Luigi Martini, professor of pharmaceutical innovation at King’s College London, explains that “the issue is that collagen is a protein, and your body will digest a protein.”
It’s also worth remembering that when it comes to supplementing, as in all things nutrition, thinking holistically is the most sensible and balanced approach. Nutritional therapist Eve Kalinik suggests that the first step to upping collagen is to “try a bioavailable form like a bone broth, while all vitamin C-rich foods will encourage our bodies to create collagen.”
On the other hand, Pam Marshall, clinical aesthetician at Mortar & Milk, posits the idea that taking a collagen supplement solely to up skin bounce is flawed, because “we have to remember that not only is our skin the largest organ, but it’s also the last in the queue to receive nutrients, meaning it’s highly unlikely that a collagen supplement will reach our skin.”
In the case of collagen supplements, it seems that the best route is to take them to support overall health with fringe benefits of juicy skin and stronger nails, and to opt for those which are geared towards upping the native production of collagen or those which mimic food sources of collagen. So without further ado, here’s our round-up of the best on offer.
The best collagen supplements for 2021 are:
Best overall – Ingenious Beauty ultimate collagen+ 2nd generation: £49.99, Onbuy.com
Best for mixing with food – Bare Biology skinful pure marine collagen powder: £35, Planetorganic.com
Best winter supplement – Bare Biology skinful marine collagen plus vitamin C: £45, Planetorganic.com
Best for skin and nails – Wild Nutrition food-grown skin hair & nails: £32, Wildnutrition.com
Best for relieving stress – Marie Reynolds coll-force: £25, Mariereynoldslondon.com
Ingenious Beauty ultimate collagen+ 2nd generation
These clever capsules – which have been double-blind placebo controlled trialled – don’t release their ingredients in the stomach, but instead dissolve and release a high load of collagen in the small intestine. Professor Martini explains that the nature of the capsules means that they bypass being digested, getting them to where they need to be. Take three a day on an empty stomach – we found taking them right before bed was easiest, so they could get to work overnight when we wouldn’t be eating.
Buy now £49.99, Onbuy.com
Bare Biology skinful pure marine collagen powder
Best: For mixing with food
Collagen that has a near-identical chemical make-up to skin itself, this marine source is designed to be added to tea, coffee or your food without altering the flavour. We found it worked really well mixed into yogurt with some berries and nuts on top to maximise the skin benefits.
Buy now £35.00, Planetorganic.com
Bare Biology skinful marine collagen plus vitamin C
Best: Winter supplement
Add vitamin C to marine-sourced collagen, and you get a dose of immunity as well as upping your body’s own ability to produce collagen. This is the ideal one to take throughout winter when you are fortifying your immunity and need an extra hand to keep your skin healthy while the central heating is stealing its hydration.
Buy now £45.00, Planetorganic.com
Wild Nutrition food-grown skin hair & nails
Best: For skin and nails
Containing Vitamin C to prompt synthesis along with other food-grown vitamins and minerals including zinc, Vitamin E, and biotin, this is a comprehensive approach to supporting collagen-production and during a trial of it, we noticed our skin and nails were much more robust (our nails usually split at the top and need trimming but they stopped doing this entirely after a week on these).
Buy now £32.00, Wildnutrition.com
Marie Reynolds coll-force
Best: For relieving stress
Harnessing the most readily-absorbed marine collagen, this supplement also contains vitamins and minerals to bolster the body, ward off oxidative stress and encourage healing. Our skin looked more rested after three weeks of taking two capsules daily.
Buy now £25.00, Mariereynoldslondon.com
What are the benefits of taking collagen supplements?
Collagen is one of the most important proteins in your body. It is the major component of connective tissues that make up body parts including tendons, ligaments, skin and muscles. As such, collagen benefits by improving your skin, strengthening your bones and boosting muscle mass.
How often should you take collagen supplements?
The amount of collagen you should take depends on the form you’re taking it in and why you’re taking it. Generally, for improved skin and hair health, 2.5-10g of collagen peptides for 8-12 weeks daily. While powdered supplements suggest taking 1-2 scoops daily and a pill or gummy supplement may recommend a dosage of 1-2 pieces.
How long until they will have an effect?
You can hope to see improvements to skin support between four-12 weeks, muscle strength after three months, less soreness after training within a few days, and joint health support anywhere between four-six months. It may take up to 24 weeks to see nail benefits while bone-density support can take up to 12 months.
The verdict: Collagen supplements
While we noticed our skin looked more bouncy and glowing after trialling each of the above, two stood out for ease of use. The first is Wild Nutrition (£32.00, Wildnutrition.com) because we liked the collagen-boosting combination of vitamins and it meant we could cross zinc and vitamin C off our vitamins list; win win.
The second, is the Bare Biology powder (£35, Planetorganic.com), because it felt like no effort whatsoever to sprinkle a little into our food daily and reap the benefits without much effort on our end. However, our best buy goes to Ingenious Beauty’s ultimate collagen, it was super easy to fit into our routine and we saw amazing results.
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