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Does collagen really work?

by Andrew Harkness |

Collagen is the main building block of a whole host of the body’s key tissues, like the spinal column, the walls of arteries and the cartilage in our joints. We begin to lose about 1% of our collagen per year starting in our twenties, which can even (unfortunately) suddenly spike up to 30% over the course of the menopause. This in turn contributes to many of the usual problems that come with ageing, such as aching joints and tired-looking skin.
For many people collagen supplements can seem like a lifeline, helping to replenish the body’s collagen reserves and bringing a host of associated benefits. But there is also, quite rightfully, a small question mark hanging over their reputation. Can a simple supplement really have such wide-ranging effects? Essentially – do collagen supplements really work?

The science

Kollo’s collagen supplement contains premium marine collagen peptides, so-called ‘Type 1’ collagen. In a Japanese consumer study, 52 healthy women with ordinary skin took this type of collagen every day for four weeks. Scientists kept track of the women’s perception of their skin and joint health, with statistically significant improvements in skin health and joint pain during and after the study.
A second study in France demonstrated similar effects, this time in women in their fifties and sixties split into two groups, with the benefits of the collagen supplement tested against those of a placebo for twelve weeks. Again, benefits to the skin were observed beyond those offered by the placebo treatment, specifically with wrinkles, skin elasticity and hydration. 
While no single scientific study should be taken as conclusive, evidence in these cases points to the efficacy of collagen treatments for skin and joint pain.

The history

Throughout human history we have understood the value of collagen to our health, though perhaps in less scientific terms. Of course, we knew in antiquity the positive effects of fish on our health – which has long been known to be packed with essential proteins, oils and vitamins. Kollo collagen is produced from the scales of the same saltwater fish people almost everywhere have always derived essential nutrition from.
Once, our grandmothers might have sang us the praises of organ meats and bone broths. Back then they might have been required to provide us with sufficient quantities of crucial amino-acids and vitamins, but modern collagen supplements like Kollo provide us with a far less labour-intensive and relatively cruelty-free means of ingesting sufficient quantities of the 18 amino acids we need to build new collagen and maintain muscle health, as well as vitamins B and C. 

Choosing the right supplement

One way to ensure your collagen supplement is working to the best of its ability is to ensure it is of a sufficiently high quality. While some collagen supplements may be cheap, they can sometimes only contain a limited number of the 18 amino acids your body requires to make new collagen, limiting the benefits to your skin and joint health.
Another way to ensure you are seeing the full benefits of any course of collagen supplements is to ensure your body has the ingredients it needs to repair itself and its cells, and make new collagen. Three of these keystone ingredients for bodily health and collagen production are vitamin C, B-vitamins and l-lysine. 
Even balanced diets can sometimes lack these ingredients, but one way to ensure you get them while you’re on the go is to take a supplement that contains them as a starting ingredient.