Collagen and your health
6th Jun, 2023



What is collagen?

Collagen is the primary structural protein in connective tissues, including skin, tendons, cartilage, muscles, ligaments, bones, and teeth (1,2,3).

It makes up around 25-30% of all the protein in your body and plays a crucial role in organ development, wound healing, tissue repair, and even bone health and blood vessel repair (4).

As collagen affects the structural, mechanical, and tissue-building properties of your body, it's an incredibly important protein in the aging process (5).

Unfortunately, collagen production starts to decline from around 18-29 years of age, and after 40 years, your body may lose up to 1% of collagen every year. By the time you reach 80 years old, collagen production can decrease by 75% compared to that of a young adult (6,7).

That's why it's essential to support collagen production as early as possible. Taking steps to maintain healthy collagen levels can help keep your body functioning optimally throughout your life.


Figure 1. Sources and applications of collagen


What are the different types of collagen?

There are 29 different kinds of collagen. The most common types in collagen supplements are types I, II, and III. These types make up 80-90% of the collagen in our bodies (8,9). Types I and III are mainly found in the skin, while types II and IV mostly form the structural matrix in cartilage (8).


How can collagen help my skin?

Collagen gives skin its strength and elasticity by forming the extracellular matrix along with hyaluronic acid, reticulin, and elastin. This matrix serves as a support network for specialised skin cells such as fibroblasts.

This network becomes increasingly fragmented as we age (7). As we age, our body also generates enzymes that can break down collagen fibres. This results in decreased production of new collagen, which can exacerbate the problem (10).

Skin aging has become a common worry, even among younger people, due to the extended lifespan (2). The process of skin aging is influenced by both internal factors such as genetics, and external factors including sun exposure, air pollution, tobacco smoke, and poor diet (5).

Skin aging is a natural, unavoidable process. However, taking bioactive collagen peptides can help delay the process. Collagen peptides accumulate in the skin, improving its condition by reducing oxidative stress, preventing inflammation, regulating cell behaviour, and maintaining extracellular matrix homeostasis (11,12).

The peptides are sourced from naturally occurring collagen that undergoes enzymatic hydrolysis processing. Following digestion, they travel through the bloodstream to the skin, or other parts of the body, where they facilitate the formation of fresh collagen fibres (13,14).

Supplementing with hydrolysed collagen may enhance skin density, elasticity, and hydration while reducing facial wrinkles. Typically, visible outcomes are noticeable within 90 days of consumption and remain sustained for up to 4 weeks after discontinuing the supplement (2,15).

The body uses collagen protein wherever it’s needed, meaning that it may not specifically be utilized by the skin (16). Other ways to improve skin collagen include avoiding smoking, using sunscreen and eating a healthy, balanced diet (17).


How can collagen help my bones and joints?

As we age, the collagen content in our bones and joints decreases. This natural process is further worsened by being overweight or leading a sedentary lifestyle, as well as experiencing inflammation and joint or bone damage (for example, from strenuous physical activities). Hormonal changes may also contribute (5).

Hydrolysed collagen , such as improving bone strength, density, and mineral mass, enhancing joint mobility, reducing stiffness and pain, and boosting joint stability and recovery (5,18).


Collagen sources

Collagen is a protein that exists naturally in animal flesh such as meat and fish, which are rich in connective tissue. Nevertheless, there are also several plant and animal sources that provide the necessary materials for collagen production in our bodies.

The majority of collagen for oral supplements in the marketplace is obtained from animal-origin raw material. Collagen is extracted from industrial by-products, such as bones, cartilage, tendons, and the skin of cattle, pigs, chickens, fish, or other marine organisms (19,20,21).

The collagen may undergo a hydrolysis process to obtain bioactive peptides. Peptides from hydrolysed collagens have a high bioavailability allowing them to reach the bloodstream (18).

Collagen obtained from marine sources such as fish scales and fish skin is abundant in type I collagen (21). It is more easily absorbed, and may have a lower likelihood of causing inflammation or containing contaminants compared to animal-derived sources (22).

Certain foods are great for promoting collagen production. Foods that are high in protein and contain glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline amino acids are particularly helpful. These include fish, poultry, meat, eggs, dairy, legumes, and soy.

Incorporating plant-based foods like mangos, kale extract, tomato paste, and pomegranate juice can boost collagen production and prevent skin collagen breakdown.

You can also get a boost of vitamin C from many fruits and vegetables, which is a necessary component for collagen synthesis (23,24,25).

“Vegan collagen” typically does not contain collagen, but is made up of a blend of ingredients including plant extracts, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals (18).



Collagen supplements are generally considered safe, and there have been no reported adverse events. However, allergic reactions may occur. People with shellfish allergies may experience a reaction, including anaphylaxis if they consume hydrolysed fish collagen (26).

Always use supplements with caution and according to instructions from a practitioner or the product label.


Key takeaway

As we get older, our body's production of collagen decreases. Collagen is a vital protein that gives structure to connective tissue. To combat this, it can be helpful to add collagen to our diet or take supplements. Collagen can aid in slowing down or reducing the impact of aging on our skin, and it also supports bone and joint health.

It’s important to speak with a healthcare provider before taking any supplements, as they may interact with medications or have other side effects.










1Shenoy M, Abdul NS, Qamar Z, Bahri BMA, Al Ghalayini KZK, Kakti A. Collagen Structure, Synthesis, and Its Applications: A Systematic Review. Cureus. 2022 May;14(5):e24856.
2de Miranda RB, Weimer P, Rossi RC. Effects of hydrolyzed collagen supplementation on skin aging: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Int J Dermatol. 2021 Dec;60(12):1449–61.
3Gelse K, Pöschl E, Aigner T. Collagens--structure, function, and biosynthesis. Adv Drug Deliv Rev. 2003 Nov 28;55(12):1531–46.
4León-López A, Morales-Peñaloza A, Martínez-Juárez VM, Vargas-Torres A, Zeugolis DI, Aguirre-Álvarez G. Hydrolyzed Collagen-Sources and Applications. Molecules. 2019 Nov 7;24(22):4031.
5Campos LD, Santos Junior V de A, Pimentel JD, Carregã GLF, Cazarin CBB. Collagen supplementation in skin and orthopedic diseases: A review of the literature. Heliyon. 2023 Apr;9(4):e14961.
6Baumann L. Skin ageing and its treatment. J Pathol. 2007 Jan;211(2):241–51.
7Varani J, Dame MK, Rittie L, Fligiel SEG, Kang S, Fisher GJ, et al. Decreased collagen production in chronologically aged skin: roles of age-dependent alteration in fibroblast function and defective mechanical stimulation. Am J Pathol. 2006 Jun;168(6):1861–8.
8Sibilla S, Godfrey M, Brewer S, Budh-Raja A, Genovese L. An Overview of the Beneficial Effects of Hydrolysed Collagen as a Nutraceutical on Skin Properties: Scientific Background and Clinical Studies. The Open Nutraceuticals Journal [Internet]. 2015 Feb 27 [cited 2023 May 22];8(1). Available from:
9Sorushanova A, Delgado LM, Wu Z, Shologu N, Kshirsagar A, Raghunath R, et al. The Collagen Suprafamily: From Biosynthesis to Advanced Biomaterial Development. Adv Mater. 2019 Jan;31(1):e1801651.
10Quan T, Little E, Quan H, Qin Z, Voorhees JJ, Fisher GJ. Elevated matrix metalloproteinases and collagen fragmentation in photodamaged human skin: impact of altered extracellular matrix microenvironment on dermal fibroblast function. J Invest Dermatol. 2013 May;133(5):1362–6.
11Wang L, Zhang Y, Zhu Z, Zheng F, Gao R. Food-derived collagen peptides: safety, metabolism, and anti-skin-aging effects. Current Opinion in Food Science. 2023 Jun;51:101012.
12Sato K. The presence of food-derived collagen peptides in human body-structure and biological activity. Food Funct. 2017 Dec 13;8(12):4325–30.
13Choi FD, Sung CT, Juhasz MLW, Mesinkovsk NA. Oral Collagen Supplementation: A Systematic Review of Dermatological Applications. J Drugs Dermatol. 2019 Jan 1;18(1):9–16.
14Zague V, de Freitas V, da Costa Rosa M, de Castro GÁ, Jaeger RG, Machado-Santelli GM. Collagen hydrolysate intake increases skin collagen expression and suppresses matrix metalloproteinase 2 activity. J Med Food. 2011 Jun;14(6):618–24.
15Sun Q, Wu J, Qian G, Cheng H. Effectiveness of Dietary Supplement for Skin Moisturizing in Healthy Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Front Nutr. 2022;9:895192.
16Jhawar N, Wang JV, Saedi N. Oral collagen supplementation for skin aging: A fad or the future? J Cosmet Dermatol. 2020 Apr;19(4):910–2.
17Krutmann J, Bouloc A, Sore G, Bernard BA, Passeron T. The skin aging exposome. J Dermatol Sci. 2017 Mar;85(3):152–61.
18Martínez-Puig D, Costa-Larrión E, Rubio-Rodríguez N, Gálvez-Martín P. Collagen Supplementation for Joint Health: The Link between Composition and Scientific Knowledge. Nutrients. 2023 Mar 8;15(6):1332.
19Morgado-Carrasco D, Gil-Lianes J, Jourdain E, Piquero-Casals J. Oral Supplementation and Systemic Drugs for Skin Aging: A Narrative Review. Actas Dermosifiliogr. 2023 Feb;114(2):114–24.
20Avila Rodríguez MI, Rodríguez Barroso LG, Sánchez ML. Collagen: A review on its sources and potential cosmetic applications. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2018 Feb;17(1):20–6.
21Lupu MA, Gradisteanu Pircalabioru G, Chifiriuc MC, Albulescu R, Tanase C. Beneficial effects of food supplements based on hydrolyzed collagen for skin care (Review). Exp Ther Med. 2020 Jul;20(1):12–7.
22Silvipriya K, Kumar K, Bhat A, Kumar B, John A, Lakshmanan P. Collagen: Animal Sources and Biomedical Application. J App Pharm Sci. 2015;123–7.
23Fam VW, Charoenwoodhipong P, Sivamani RK, Holt RR, Keen CL, Hackman RM. Plant-Based Foods for Skin Health: A Narrative Review. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2022 Mar;122(3):614–29.
24Meinke MC, Nowbary CK, Schanzer S, Vollert H, Lademann J, Darvin ME. Influences of Orally Taken Carotenoid-Rich Curly Kale Extract on Collagen I/Elastin Index of the Skin. Nutrients. 2017 Jul 19;9(7):775.
25Dattola A, Silvestri M, Bennardo L, Passante M, Scali E, Patruno C, et al. Role of Vitamins in Skin Health: a Systematic Review. Curr Nutr Rep. 2020 Sep;9(3):226–35.
26Fujimoto W, Fukuda M, Yokooji T, Yamamoto T, Tanaka A, Matsuo H. Anaphylaxis provoked by ingestion of hydrolyzed fish collagen probably induced by epicutaneous sensitization. Allergol Int. 2016 Oct;65(4):474–6.