In a world saturated with advice, some well-intentioned and some misleading, we should all strive to make informed choices regarding our wellness routines. While ageing is a journey that many of us are privileged to experience, the beauty that comes with age should be celebrated. So, there’s no harm in taking steps to keep your skin and bodies looking and feeling their best.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies, with a fibre-like structure that makes tissue strong and resilient while strengthening our skin, hair, nails, joints, and various connective tissues. As we age, our resources of collagen begin to deplete, losing one to two per cent every year after turning 25 years old. As our collagen production naturally declines, this creates visible signs of ageing like fine lines and wrinkles, thinning hair and weakened nails. And, it is estimated that by 40 years old, we may have lost as much as one third of our natural collagen, the decline actually becoming steeper during peri-menopause.
Many people - including our own Mumsnet users - are turning to collagen supplements. But before you start shopping yourself, you might be wondering exactly what is collagen? So, let’s address the fundamental questions about collagen, its benefits, and whether taking supplements is the right choice for you.
Understanding the protein: what is collagen?
As mentioned above, collagen is a fibrous protein that serves as an important building block in the human body, comprising skin, tendons, ligaments, and more. Collagen provides structure, strength, and elasticity to our tissues, making it essential for maintaining youthful and healthy skin, hair and joints. Beyond its beauty benefits, it’s also involved in essential roles like helping your blood to clot.
However, collagen comes in different shapes and sizes. There are several types of collagen, with Type I, II, and III being the most common (there’s five in total) - and each one has its own unique functions within the human body.
The different types of collagen include:
Type I: the most abundant, and makes up about 90% of the body’s total collagen. This type provides structure to the body including skin, connective tissues, teeth, bones, and tendons.
Type 2: found in cartilage around the joints.
Type 3: has a structural role, supporting the muscles, organs, and arteries.
Type 4: found in the layers and membrane of your skin.
Type 5: found in hair and also the placenta during pregnancy.
Collagen in your diet
Collagen isn't just about beauty; it's essential for your body. Your diet plays a vital role in supporting collagen production.
To build collagen, your body needs glycine and proline, two amino acids. Ensure your diet includes protein-rich foods like meat, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs, legumes, and tofu, which provide these amino acids. Gelatin-rich foods, essentially cooked collagen, are also great sources. In addition to protein, your diet should include key nutrients: vitamin C, copper, zinc, omega-3, and antioxidants. These elements protect and stimulate collagen production.
Supporting collagen isn't just about skincare; it's about maintaining your body's structure and health.
What about collagen supplements?
Collagen supplements have gained immense popularity in recent years, thanks to their potential to promote various health and beauty benefits. These supplements come in different forms, including powders, capsules, and drinks.
“Collagen is the most prominent protein in the body, where it has many roles including supporting firmness and elasticity of healthy skin”, explains Dr. Dave Reilly, Chief Scientist at Absolute Collagen.
“Collagen supplements can have multiple benefits.”
There are a few different types of collagen supplements available on the market: animal (which is normally bovine sourced) and marine (from fish). There are also some vegan brands that are rising in popularity that use vegan proteins like chickpeas.
The different types of collagen supplements you can buy include:
Liquid collagen and collagen drinks have emerged as a popular alternative to incorporate this essential protein into your daily routine. These drinks offer a high dosage compared to collagen capsules, and are often free from binders and fillers found in capsules. They also offer a unique and refreshing twist, while providing an array of health and beauty benefits.
A popular brand of collagen drinks used by Mumsnet users is Absolute Collagen. The brand’s 10ml sachets contain 8000mg of high grade marine hydrolysed collagen (the most your body can absorb at any one time) combined with vitamin C and 7.7g of collagen protein. They are lactose-, gluten-, and dairy-free, as well as Halal certified. They also contain no artificial flavours, colours or added sugar and are made from 100% natural ingredients. Most importantly, Absolute Collagen is clinically proven - in a double blind placebo controlled study - to increase skin elasticity by 60% in just 12 weeks.
I have an Absolute Collagen subscription, I have been taking it since May and I have noticed a positive difference.
Before and after results with Absolute Collagen
Collagen capsules offer a convenient alternative and are similar to Absolute Collagen’s sachets for those who prefer a more straightforward and pill-based method of supplementing with the protein. These capsules are a popular choice because they are easy to incorporate into your daily routine, requiring no mixing or preparation. However, it’s important to always check the dose, as these are often low doses of collagen (200mg), whereas liquid collagen like Absolute Collagen is clinically proven at 8000mg.
They also contain collagen peptides, which are short chains of amino acids in a hydrolysed form. Unlike powder, there’s no need to prepare or mix this collagen supplement and they’re easier to transport, too.
This is one of the most common forms, and can be easily mixed with drink or food.
The benefits of taking collagen
While individual results may vary, here are some of the common benefits associated with collagen supplementation:
Improved skin health: since collagen is a key component of the skin, supplements can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles, increase skin hydration, and promote a youthful, radiant complexion.
Hair and nail enhancement: many Mumsnet users report stronger, shinier hair and improved nail health after taking collagen. This can lead to enhanced hair thickness, reduced brittleness, and better overall nail condition.
Joint pain relief: collagen is found in cartilage, and can help alleviate joint pain and stiffness. It may also contribute to enhanced joint mobility and reduce the risk of conditions like osteoarthritis.
Gut health support: collagen supplements can help strengthen the gut lining and reduce inflammation, potentially benefiting digestive health.
The above are some of the more common benefits of taking collagen supplements, however it is believed that taking them can also help with:
Your bone health
Muscle mass preservation
Stronger immune system
Of course, like with any supplement, to maximise the benefits and ensure safety, it’s advisable to choose a high-quality collagen product like Absolute Collagen, and consult with a healthcare professional before starting any supplementation.
Additionally, maintaining a balanced diet, staying hydrated, and following a healthy lifestyle can further complement the advantages of collagen supplements.
Choosing the right collagen for you: things to consider
Selecting the right collagen product can be a bit of a puzzle, considering the multitude of options available. Here are essential factors to consider when choosing the perfect collagen supplement for your needs:
1. Collagen type
Collagen comes in various types, and each type has distinct functions in the body. Type 1 makes up around 90% of your body’s collagen, and is made of very densely packed fibres. It provides structure to so many different elements of the body - including your skin, bones, tendons, cartilage, connective tissue and teeth. Type 2 tends to be found in elastic cartilage, like your joints, and Type 3 supports the structure of the muscles, organs and arteries within the body.
With that said, Type 1 helps all types, which is why it’s the most common form of collagen supplements. After all the source is more important than the type - for instance, how bioavailable it is in the body. For this reason, Absolute Collagen’s liquid collagen supplement contains 8000mg Type 1 Marine collagen, combined with vitamin C.
2. Collagen source
Collagen can come from bovine, marine, chicken, or vegan sources. So, choose one that aligns with your dietary preferences and needs. Absolute Collagen’s liquid collagen drink is of the marine variety, which has better bioavailability and your body absorbs it more easily.
Since collagen is available in various forms - like powders, capsules, and drinks - you can pick one that fits your lifestyle and preferences. If you prefer to prep your supplements at home, a powder would be a good option. For easy, on-the-go supplementation, capsules and liquid drinks like Absolute Collagen would be suitable. Just remember to make sure that there is over 5000mg in your supplement - although 8000mg is preferable per dose.
4. Purity and quality
Ensure that the product you’re taking is of the highest-quality, free from additives, and has undergone testing for safety and effectiveness. For instance, Absolute Collagen is clinically proven - in a double blind placebo controlled study - to increase skin elasticity by 60% in just 12 weeks.
Consult with a healthcare professional to determine the right dosage for your needs.
Choosing the right collagen product is a personalised decision based on your specific goals, dietary preferences, and lifestyle. With careful consideration of these factors and expert advice if needed, you can select the ideal collagen supplement to support your journey to healthier skin, hair, nails, joints, and overall well-being.
Are there any side effects of collagen supplements?
Like with any dietary supplements, taking collagen supplements may come with some side effects - although, they tend to be rare and mild. It’s important to be aware of them, though, and they include digestive issues (like bloating, diarrhoea, mild gastrointestinal discomfort), allergic reactions, bad aftertaste, increased calcium levels, weight gain, and interactions with other medications you may be taking.
Related: Best stretch mark creams for pregnancy
Myth busting with Absolute Collagen
Myth: collagen creams can replace collagen supplements
Our natural collagen levels begin to decline from the age of 25. Preventive wellness is key to ensure supple skin and smooth hair. This is mainly due to age, along with lifestyle habits, pollution, sun exposure, and other toxins – and by age of 40, we will have lost around one-third of our collagen. This is usually the time people start to consider a collagen supplement, but it’s recommended to start before as a preventative approach to wellness.
Myth: All collagen supplements are the same
The collagen supplement market can be confusing. For an efficacious, clinically proven, sustainable approach try Absolute Collagen’s unique formula, which contains 8000mg Type 1 Marine collagen and Vitamin C. One 10ml sachet of Absolute Collagen contains the same amount of active ingredients as 10 to 15 pills in a more easily digestible format.
Myth: The higher the dose, the better the results
Absolute Collagen’s unique formulation of 8000mg of hydrolysed collagen is clinically proven to significantly improve skin quality in the largest and most robust clinical study into a collagen supplement. This unique dose is the right dosage for maximum efficacy.
Your questions about Absolute Collagen, answered
Are your supplements clinically proven to work?
When it comes to supplementing, it’s only natural to have questions over their effectiveness.
Dr. Dave Reilly said: “We’ve long-seen evidence of the effectiveness of Absolute Collagen supplements, this proven by a double-blind placebo controlled gold study.
“We now know that this unique dosage of 8000mg of hydrolysed marine collagen, taken alongside vitamin C, is clinically proven to improve skin elasticity by 60%.
“100% of participants experienced improvement in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles after 12 weeks. Truly remarkable results.”
In the clinical trial, participants who took Absolute Collagen’s supplement shared that:
90% report that their skin feels replenished and restored after 12 weeks
83% reported that their skin feels soft and smoother after 12 weeks
79% reported that their skin feels bright and luminous after 12 weeks
77% reported that their hair feels smoother after 12 weeks*
*Source, Absolute Collagen Trial, 2023.
Can I use Absolute Collagen when pregnant?
As Absolute Collagen is 100% natural and does not contain any shellfish or crustaceans, it’s fine to take the supplement whilst pregnant and post-natal. However, if you have any concerns, we recommend contacting a health professional for advice,
How long do I need to take it for?
You can expect to see and feel results in 12 weeks, as Dr Dave Reilly describes: “In all cases with the Absolute Collagen double blind clinical trial, we saw initial improvements in skin and hair attributes at Week 6, with further improvements being recorded at Week 12’.
About Absolute Collagen
Absolute Collagen’s story began after co-founder, Maxine, decided to pursue her dream of going to university to study Fine Art once her daughters had flown the nest, at age 50. From here, Maxine re-discovered herself, feeling as she had been hiding behind being who she thought everyone else needed her to be. Her perspective changed about her own potential through the discovery of collagen, enabling her to feel strong in her skin. From there, Absolute Collagen was born.
Now a certified B CorpTM, Absolute Collagen has been a leader in the field of nutricosmetics and skincare supplements since 2017, winning awards including Woman & Home Clever Skincare 2022 and Glamour Wellness Award 2022 for best supplement and receiving over 3,400 5 star reviews from customers through its website and Trustpilot.
About the author
Rebecca Roberts is a writer, editor, and content marketing expert hailing from Leeds. Here at Mumsnet, she brings parents content designed to make life easier. When it comes to self-care, she knows all too well how difficult it can be to give your body the nourishment it needs when you’re busy juggling life as a parent. So, she’s fully invested in helping you find the best products that have the best results for you and your health.
Beyond her role as an editor here at Mumsnet, Rebecca can be found balancing life as a working mum of two toddlers and when she’s not at her desk, you’ll likely find her at a local playgroup, in a nearby coffee shop, or walking the dog.