Collagen, the protein found in the connective tissues between animal muscles, is seeping its way into the fitness and beauty industries as one of the healthy sources of protein for athletes and as supplements to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Companies are developing and marketing pills, powders, foods, and beverages claiming to improve your skin’s appearance and help refuel muscles after a workout. More and more women over thirty, athletes and body-builders are consuming collagen products in an attempt to change their appearance. But do these products really work?

Collagen for Skin

It makes sense on first look that ingesting collagen would make a difference in your skin’s appearance. As we get older, the collagen in our skin starts to break down, causing thinner skin, fine lines, and wrinkles. Companies like BioSil and Vital Proteins are manufacturing supplements to help create younger-looking skin and minimize the signs of aging. You can even find collagen in foods like fish, meat, red, dark green and orange vegetables, berries, soy, and citrus fruits. And many skincare companies are developing collagen-rich moisturizers.

There are several studies touting the benefits of collagen for skin health. This study published in Skin Pharmacology and Physiology showed that the collagen supplement, Verisol, improved skin elasticity and reduced eye wrinkles by 20 percent after eight weeks. The thought is that, when consumed, active collagen fragments are absorbed into your body and circulate through your bloodstream to your skin. But other studies and specialists argue that collagen is a protein, so when you ingest it, your digestive system breaks it up before it gets a chance to reach your skin — much like eating a steak.

The final verdict? It’s difficult to tell how much of the collagen you eat or ingest through a supplement will actually be absorbed through your body and reach your skin. But it can’t hurt to up our natural collagen intake through diet. And applying collagen topically to the skin can (temporarily, at least) reduce the appearance of those pesky lines. Using a moisturizer with sunblock every day and eating clean may still be the best ways to help skin look younger.

A Healthy Source of Protein

It’s no secret that good health and fitness rely on the body’s building block: protein. After a tough workout, your muscles need healthy sources of protein, plus other nutrients, for recovery and rebuilding. It makes sense, then, that supplementing with collagen, a type of protein, would be beneficial to a fitness buff and could aid in enhancing physical performance.

Collagen is a vital building block for bones, joints, and connective tissues (taking collagen can also help to improve bone and joint health). When we’re building muscle, we can’t overlook the importance of connective tissue in ensuring a strong and youthful body.

Adding Collagen to your Diet

Modern food processing focuses on lean, skinless, boneless meat — the parts of the animal which does not contain much collagen — so we’re actually not consuming collagen from most of our usual sources of protein when we choose these cuts. Found in bones and connective tissue, most of us can easily consume collagen in the form of natural, unskimmed bone broth. Consuming collagen can help reduce inflammation caused by running and lifting weights, promote joint health, reduce injury (especially to the ligaments and tendons), maintain nitrogen balance, and reduce body fat. Some say it also can benefit your gut’s biome, Turns out there is logic in drinking chicken broth when you are not feeling your best – it is likely high in collagen.

While there are many powders and pills that you can find at your local health food stores to help add collagen to your regiment, Ti Tonics are an easy way to sip your collagen. Adding this hip new beverage to your diet provides a non-dairy source of protein and collagen with a little hit from white tea and no added sugars. Or reap the benefits from a daily dose of bone broth!

Want to share your perspective or discuss ours? Let us know!