Collagen supplements are trendy, but it is just hype?

Diet and lifestyle matter when it comes to making or losing collagen

SAN ANTONIO – People spend big money on collagen supplements to help turn back the clock on their skin and joints. Is there a real benefit, or is it hype?

Tracy Eck is into exercise, from tennis to weight training to Pilates. When she started having pain in her knee, her doctor recommended surgery. However, before having surgery, Eck tried collagen supplements to see if the hype she had heard might give her some pain relief.

“Six to 8 weeks after I started, I didn’t go to my freezer and pull out my ice packs the way I usually do and sit and ice my knees. It felt like a miracle to me,” said Eck.

Even since the surgery, she’s been taking collagen daily in her coffee and even in soups.

Eck is among the thousands of U.S. consumers who spent $222 million on collagen supplements in 2021 alone.

So what makes this popular protein so special?

“As we age, we produce less of it, so skin starts to sag and wrinkle. And without enough fresh collagen, our tendons, ligaments, and joints can be less flexible,” said Consumer Reports Health Editor Lauren Friedman.

Consumer Reports said early research shows promise in taking more collagen, but more evidence is needed.

When it comes to supplements of any kind, Consumer Reports says people should use them cautiously.

“The Food and Drug Administration does not guarantee you’ll get what the package claims. But you can also up your intake by adding more collagen-rich foods into your diet,” said Friedman.

Those foods include bone broth or tough cuts of meat. However, adequate amounts of protein like chicken, fish, eggs, cheese, and nuts will provide what your body needs to make collagen, about 25 to 30 grams per meal or the equivalent of four ounces.

That’s pretty much what Eck eats, in addition to taking collagen supplements.

“It’s really made a difference with my nails. My nails are harder, they’re sturdier,” said Eck.

Collagen may not be the key to eternal youth, but it’s definitely having a moment.

Lifestyle makes a difference, too. Sun exposure, smoking, excessive alcohol or sugar, and lack of sleep promote collagen loss.

About the Author

Marilyn Moritz is an award-winning journalist dedicated to digging up information that can make people’s lives a little bit better. As KSAT’S 12 On Your Side Consumer reporter, she focuses on exposing scams and dangerous products and helping people save money.

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