Experts Offer Insight on Viral Collagen Benefits

Collagen-rich foods and supplements have gained attention on social media apps like TikTok for their alleged skincare benefits. Experts explain the pros and cons of the viral trend.

Collagen is the most profound protein in the body, accounting for 30% of total body proteins. TikTok videos under the #collagenbenefits have garnered over 21 million views for combating aging. Is the new viral trend really all that it's cracked up to be?

Lauryna Nelkinė, MSc, a nutrition scientist at Healthnews, says in some cases, collagen can improve skin appearance.

“There is emerging evidence that higher doses and long-term use of collagen supplements may improve skin hydration and elasticity,” Nelkinė says. “However, it is very important to note that collagen, although it is a very important part of skin texture and plays a major role in skin appearance, factors such as dietary habits, hydration, physical exercise, use of sunscreen, proper skin care, sleep, not smoking/limited alcohol consumption have much more significant effect for skin health and appearance.”

What is collagen?

Collagen is a protein that helps the body sustain structure, strength, and support. It plays a part in replacing dead skin cells, providing protection for organs, and supporting the skin. Collagen is key for supporting the body’s muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, and other connective tissues.

With age, the body produces less collagen, and existing collagen breaks down quickly. Cleveland Clinic notes women and those assigned female at birth experience high rates of collagen reduction following menopause. All individuals over 60 years old are likely to experience declines in collagen production.

Lifestyle factors can play a role in collagen levels. Individuals with a history of smoking, high exposure to sunlight, plus consumption of sugar and processed carbohydrates are linked with higher rates of collagen loss.

Signs that collagen levels are decreasing include:

  • Wrinkled or saggy skin.
  • Weakening muscles or muscle aches.
  • Poor flexibility in tendons and ligaments.
  • Trouble with range of mobility.
  • Joint pain due to worn cartilage.
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Improving collagen levels

One of the popular ways individuals are attempting to increase collagen levels is through supplements. Nelkinė notes it is important for collagen supplement buyers to do their research before purchasing a product that claims to be a collagen supplement.

“Some collagen supplements may not have the ingredients mentioned on the label, or not in the amounts mentioned on the label, as well as it may be contaminated with harmful substances,” Nelkinė said. “Therefore, for people who do consider including collagen supplements in their diet, it is crucial to focus on the reputable brands, providing third-party lab testing certificates and following good manufacturing practices.”

For those wondering if too much collagen via supplements can be negative, Nelkinė says in most cases collagen consumption is safe. Nonetheless, it is important to remember it takes long-term supplementation to receive benefits.

Collagen taken orally is considered to be generally safe to consume for healthy individuals and studies most of the time do not report any adverse effects. However, for some individuals with a risk of kidney stone formation, high dose/prolonged time collagen supplementation may increase the risk of kidney stones due to a rise in urine oxalate levels. Also, some precautions may be advised for people suffering from liver disease.


Collagen supplements have been associated with relieving rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, however, not enough research has been produced to confirm this as a fact. A 2022 Iranian systematic review found not enough research had been produced to support the claim.

As opposed to supplements, there are many foods that are rich in collagen. For example, bone broth is an effective way to increase protein intake and is a source of collagen/gelatin that provides beneficial amino acids and aids gut health.

Chicken is another great source of collagen due to its high protein count. Also, fish is a great source of its marine collage, which absorbs up to one-and-a-half times more than cow-derived collagen. Nutrient expert at Protein Works, Kyle Crowley, explains how vegetarian and vegan diets obtain collagen.

“Many collagen food sources aren’t vegetarian or vegan friendly, however, if you do eat a meat and fish free diet, there are things you can do to boost your body’s ability to naturally produce more collagen,” Crowley says. “Foods rich in vitamin C like berries, garlic, leafy greens, citrus fruits, beans, oranges, tomatoes, whole grains, and nuts are key to helping the body better produce collagen. These foods can help to boost the production of collagen as vitamin C promotes collagen synthesis.”

Before making dietary changes or engaging in supplementation, make sure to consult your doctor for medical advice.

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