Ask the RD · Nutrition · Science

Ask the RD: Collagen Supplements

Today’s Ask the RD Question comes from a family member who questioned the validity of collagen supplement claims for things such as youthful skin and improved joint health.


Q: Are collagen supplements actually beneficial for skin and joint health?

Check out any natural-health based website nowadays and you’re bound to find articles touting the benefits of oral collagen supplementation. Do these supplements actually work, and are they worth the cost?

First off, collagen is a protein, and the most abundant protein within the human body. It comprises bones, ligaments, joints and skin. The theory is that by consuming collagen supplements, we can build-up our natural stores.

There are a few different types of collagen supplements available. Most popular is Hydrolyzed Collagen. Hydrolyzed collagen powders can be easily mixed into both hot and cold liquids. (I add a tbsp of collagen to my morning coffee every day). Hydrolyzed collagen supplements have been shown to benefit skin health, most notably, skin hydration, elasticity and wrinkle reduction (2,3). Collagen sourced from fish, aka Marine Collagen has been shown to provide the greatest absorption and may provide the best skin health benefits (4). Check out Vital Proteins Marine Collagen Protein.

Stair Running

If you’re looking for relief of arthritis-related joint pain, then Type-II Undentured Collagen Supplements (UC-II) are likely your best bet. These UC-II supplements have been shown to provide significant benefit in reducing knee pain, stiff and functional ability in people with osteoarthritis. UC-II supplements have been found to outperform glucomsine, a commonly used dietary supplement for arthritis pain relief. I personally have not used UC-II, but do have suggestions for reputable companies that make this form of collagen supplement- Now UC-II.

If you’ve experimented with collagen supplements, tell us more by leaving a comment.

  1. Type-II Collagen., Accessed April 8, 2018.
  2. Schwartz, SR, & Park, J. Ingestion of BioCell Collagen, a novel hydrolyzed chicken sternal cartilage extact; enhanced blood microcirculation and reduced facial aging signs. Clin Inter Aging. 2012(3), 267-273. /PMC3426261/. Accessed April 8, 2018
  3. Proksch E, Segger D, Degwert J, Schunck M, Zague V, Oesser S. Oral Supplementation of Specific Collagen Peptides Has Beneficial Effects on Human Skin Physiology: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Skin Pharmacology and Physiology. 2014; 27(1):47-55. Accessed April 8, 2018.
  4. Hemanth Kumar, M., Spandana, V., Poonam, T. Extraction and Determination of Collagen Peptide and It’s Clinical Importance from Tilapia Fish Scales (Oreochromis Nilcticus). IRJP. 2011, 2(10), 97-99. Accessed April 8, 2018.
  5. Lugo, J.P., Saiyed, Z.M., Lane, N.E. Efficacy and tolerability of an undentured type II collagen supplement in modulating knee osteoarthritis symptoms: a multicenter randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Nutrition Journal. 2016; 15 (14). Accessed April 8, 2018.

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