Dermatologist Weighs In On Collagen Peptide Treatments   

Dermatologist Weighs In On Collagen Peptide Treatments

Collagen powder, pills and glass of water on wooden tray
Clinical Contributors to this story:
Alexis Livingston Young, M.D.

Some people take collagen peptide supplements to replenish their collagen stores as they age. The supplements aren’t research-proven, but they may help, and they aren’t harmful to try.

Your body naturally produces the protein collagen, which keeps your skin looking youthful. As you age, you produce less collagen, contributing to wrinkle formation and duller-looking skin.

“People start producing less collagen in their 20s, but production decreases more after menopause,” says dermatologist, Alexis Young, M.D. “People who take collagen peptides hope they’ll restore skin elasticity and a natural glow.”

What you should know about collagen

People often think about collagen in the context of their skin’s appearance, but collagen is present throughout your body.

Collagen helps your skin stay taut and your tendons and ligaments remain flexible. Less collagen may cause bone or cartilage loss, leading to osteoporosis or joint pain.

“People who have stiff joints may have less cartilage due to collagen loss,” says Dr. Young. “But most people think about collagen loss in the context of wrinkles and loose skin.”

How your body produces collagen

A healthy diet helps your body produce collagen. The building blocks include:

  • Protein, found in meat, poultry, seafood, beans, eggs, dairy and soy
  • Vitamin C, found in many fruits and vegetables
  • Zinc, found in meat, seafood, beans, nuts, seeds and eggs
  • Copper, found in meat, shellfish, nuts, seeds and unsweetened chocolate

    It’s normal for you to produce less collagen as you age. You’re also likely to produce less collagen if you:
  • Smoke
  • Don’t get enough sleep
  • Spend too much time in the sun
  • Experience sunburns
  • Drink an excessive amount of alcohol
  • Are sedentary

    “The sun’s ultraviolet radiation can destroy collagen in your skin,” says Dr. Young. “Wearing sunscreen and staying indoors during peak sun hours may protect your collagen stores.”

What you should know about collagen peptide supplements

Even people who eat healthily produce less collagen as they age. Collagen peptide supplements may help your body produce more collagen.

Many dietary supplements containing collagen peptides are sold as pills or powders. Products may have these terms on the label:

  • Collagen peptides
  • Hydrolyzed collagen
  • Collagen hydrolysate

    Collagen peptide supplements are derived from the bones and skin of beef, pork and fish products. There are no vegan sources of collagen peptides available.

    “Collagen is only found in the skin, bones and connective tissue, not plant sources,” says TK doctor. “But some plant-based foods – beans, nuts, seeds – help you produce your own collagen.”

Why collagen peptides don’t work topically

If you’re interested in trying collagen peptides, ingest supplements instead of using cream. Collagen peptides can’t reach inner tissue when applied topically.  

More research is needed to know if ingested supplements help the skin or are just digested. But many people believe that collagen peptides make their skin appear more youthful.

“Try topical retinoids – they stimulate collagen production when applied to the skin, and may work better than collagen supplements,” adds Dr. Young.

More research is needed 

Studies regarding the benefits of collagen supplementation are lacking. Although generally considered safe if made by a reputable company, the anti-aging and other health benefits of supplementation have yet to be proven in large, representative studies. There have been some small studies showing benefits in skin hydration and elasticity. 

  • Because collagen peptides are dietary supplements, manufacturers aren’t required to prove that they’re effective.
  • Many of the studies looking at supplements have been funded by the companies making the supplements so the results could be biased as well.
  • There’s no guarantee that they’ll improve your skin, but they shouldn’t harm you.

    “Collagen peptides have not been found to cause noticeable side effects in healthy people. Your doctor should give you the go-ahead to try these supplements, if you’re interested,” shares Dr. Young. “Collagen supplementation is a promising area of research but right now it is in its infancy regarding efficacy, safety, formulation and dosing.”

Next Steps & Resources:

  • Meet our source: Alexis Young, M.D. 
  • To make an appointment with Dr. Young, or a doctor near you, call 800-822-8905 or visit our website

    The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.


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