Collagen Supplements - Do They Really Work?
Updated: Jul 20
Collagen. Such a buzz word these days. It's like everywhere you go, you see this magic word. Some people swear by it, while others will call it a fluke. Men and women alike are using all kinds of collagen products found in the market that come with big promises.
So what is collagen and why do we need it?
As a Certified Health Coach, I personally decided to give this a go after much research, and will share my own results as well.
What is Collagen? According to Harvard University, collagen is the most abundant protein found in the human body! That's right! It is NOT a man-made supplement or ingredient. It is a naturally occurring protein in the human body. Collagen is found in the connective tissue, skin, tendons, bones, and cartilage. It provides structural support to tissues and plays important roles in cellular processes. Basically, your body NEEDS collagen.
What is a Supplement?
According to Penn Medicine, vitamins and minerals are essential to helping your body develop and function as it should be. Supplements are used to give your body the extra nutrient boost that is needed to stay healthy, especially when your diet alone cannot supply all that's needed. Or such as when your body stops producing it in the amount that's needed to stay healthy and at its optimal best, as in the case of collagen. Can some supplements be bad for you? Absolutely. It is important to read the ingredients, check the certifications, and know what exactly you are putting into your body.
Why would you want to take a Collagen Supplement?
As we begin to age, the amount of collagen our body was producing begins to drop drastically, especially as we get closer to 30, and existing collagen begins to break down at a faster rate. This in turn impacts many parts of our health and bodies including, skin, hair, nails, gums, bones, cartilage, and gut health, just to name a few. Environmental factors can also speed up the process of the reduction of collagen production in the body. This includes too much exposure to ultraviolet light, smoking, drinking, and even dietary choices of high sugar or processed foods. In other words, having your body produce less and less collagen is inevitable. Just like you can start using ANTI-aging skincare in your early 20s, the same can be said for collagen. Getting a head start on helping your body with its collagen production is always a smart idea.
How to Tell your Collagen Levels have Dropped? According to Cleveland Clinic, some ways to identify your collagen levels have dropped, is by tuning in to what our bodies are showing us. Some examples include:
Skin that's wrinkled, sagging, losing elasticity or looking crepey
Hallowing in and around the eyes and other parts of the face
Shrinking, weakening muscles and muscle aches
Stiffer, less flexible tendons and ligaments
Joint pain or osteoarthritis due to worn cartilage
Loss of mobility due to joint damage or stiffness
Gastrointestinal problems due to thinning of the lining of your digestive tract
Problems with blood flow
Brittle or slow-growing nails
Thinning hair or unexplained hair loss
Can Collagen be Plant-Sourced?
The simple answer is no. Collagen is not found in plants, it cannot be produced by plants. It is strictly found in humans, animals or marine life. So be careful of products that claim to be sourced from plants and yet give you collagen in the form of a supplement. It just isn't possible. This is not to be confused with collagen "boosting" ingredients, for example such as aloe vera or vitamin C. But that is completely different than claiming that the collagen in a product is plant sourced, vegetarian or vegan.
How does a Collagen Supplement Work? Collagen supplements are sourced from animals or marine life, and are available in the market in the form of pills, liquids and powders. There are many companies that will claim their collagen supplement is the best and will give you results as well.
There is some evidence via studies that taking a collagen supplement may work. There is no guarantee. Why is that? If we are providing our bodies with something it doesn't have enough of, why would a supplement be rejected by our bodies, or have no impact? According to BodyBio, your body just may not be in the right condition to absorb the supplements. Medications, pathogens, and digestive components like stomach acid, digestive enzymes and bile can all impact absorption, In other words, a healthy gut and body are a pre-requisite to absorb the supplement. If your gut is not where it ultimately should be, this can affect absorption by either destroying some or all of the supplement, or just not being able to assimilate well with your body. Think of it like getting a transfusion for blood or an organ transplant. It may look like it has everything your body needs, but ultimately your body and its current condition will decide if it accepts or rejects it at the end. You are taking something foreign to your body (non-human source) and hoping your body accepts it. More on getting your gut to the ultimate health and condition in a later post.
How does a Collagen Builder Work? How is a collagen builder different from just a collagen supplement? A collagen supplement is aiming to take collagen from an animal or marine source, have it enter your system, and successfully be absorbed into your body, without being rejected for any reason. A collagen builder, does NOT contain any collagen at all actually. It can be both vegetarian and vegan. It contains ingredients that work together to teach your body how to increase the collagen production naturally. In other words, our body already knows how to produce collagen, it has been doing it our entire lives!
Unfortunately, either due to age, to environmental factors, or diet, our body slows down this production. So a collagen builder basically gives your body the boost that is needed, to speed up that production level again, and naturally start increasing our collagen levels. No need for artificial or animal sources!
My Experience and Results
After conducting all of my research, my obvious choice was to go with a Collagen Builder. I also wanted something that was Vegan Certified and not have any animal ingredients in it. You will be surprised just how many products are in the market that claim to be vegetarian, and still have collagen! It's shocking how they get away with it. The product I chose to experiment with for myself is the Arbonne Skin Elixir Collagen Support. This is a Collagen Builder. It is Vegan Certified, Gluten Free, Halal Certified, Kosher Certified and Non-GMO. It also does not contain any artificial colours, flavours or sweeteners; and is formulated without high-fructose corn syrup, dairy or soy. So right away, checking off all the right boxes for me. This is what I like to see in my nutritional products. I also love that the company offers a 90 day money back return guarantee, so if you don't love it, or don't see results, you can absolutely return it, even if the item is open and used.
It is a açaí-flavored powder, that is mixed in 180mL or 6oz of water, to turn it into a drink. It is conveniently packaged in individual sachets, that you can take on the go with you.
This can be taken at any time during the day, whatever is convenient for you. That made it much more easier for me to fit into my day.
The Skin Elixir also contains ingredients such as Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin C (for antioxidants), Biotin, and many other botanical ingredients like Pine Bark Extract, Sea Buckthorn Fruit, Gotu Kola Leaf and others. My initial reaction on the taste was neutral. It is not delicious, but also not bad. I take it daily easily, although if you ask my husband, I am very picky about flavors, so that must mean its very "drinkable".
I am not sure what I was expecting. Truly I didn't think I would see much of a difference, which is why I didn't even tell anyone right away that I was trying something new. But to my pleasant surprise, I actually did see results around my 3rd week of using it. I found that my hair fall had decreased significantly. I should mention that I am anemic, with incredibly low ferritin and hemoglobin numbers. This fluctuates depending on my diet and of course which iron supplement I am taking. So for me to notice a significant decrease in hair fall was actually HUGE! The second thing I noticed was my nail growth. My nails became stronger and less prone to breakage. I documented some of this progress in the pictures below. I promise I got my nails cleaned up after this experiment was done. The 3rd difference I saw was in my gums. I used to often experience my gums bleeding when I would brush my teeth. It became such a normal occurence for me that it didn't even surprise me anymore. What was surprising was when the bleeding gums stopped! And finally, my skin! Being in my early 30s, I wasn't struggling with deep fine lines just yet. However, what I did notice was a GLOW on my skin. My skin looked FRESH, almost like I had just gotten a facial done (and I hadn't!) I remember being at my daughter's birthday party, and a friend of mine was standing next to me. She kept looking over at me and finally asked if I had been using something new on my skin? I said no, as I hadn't changed my skincare routine at all. However, I HAD started taking this collagen building drink daily. That definitely was a huge boost to my confidence! My documented nail progress below! This was a fun experiment, and I was very pleased with the results!
I have since religiously been taking this drink, and can share that I am very happy with my results! It has become second nature for me, and I don't even think about it anymore. It's just a part of my daily routine now. I would like to point out, boosting your collagen is just like taking any other vitamin or mineral your body needs. If you stop, those levels will drop for you again. Similar to taking an iron supplement for example, and then stopping. So taking it daily, will be super important for you to see results. A big thumbs up from me!
If you found this review helpful, do click my affiliate link below to try out the same drink I got awesome results with! Don't forget to use my promo code Arbonne10 for an additional 10% off!
If you live in the US, use the link below, don't forget the promo code Arbonne10!
My grown out nails below are not fake! These are my real nails, without any tips added. Just healthy nails that don't chip or break since I've been taking this amazing Collagen Building drink!
Have you taken anything for your collagen levels? Do share in the comments below! Have you subscribed to my blog yet? Get updates right in your email!