As we age, our ability to produce collagen begins to diminish. Blame it on the menopause, UV rays or smog, sooner or later we might notice a loss in the elasticity of our skin and stiffness in our joints.
To improve the way we feel inside and out, nutritionists often suggest topping up our collagen levels – the so-called “building blocks of our skin” – by consuming foods high in protein like beef, eggs, chicken, or fish skins.
But what if we are always in a rush or simply don’t like the idea of having a good bone broth for supper? Luckily, we can supplement our diet with high-quality collagen powders, tablets, pills and liquid.
How do I know which collagen is right for me?
Choosing the right type of oral collagen for our needs is a matter of personal choice. The powder form is usually considered the most practical one because it can be added to many different food types or mixed with water, coffee, or smoothies for a quick shot.
However, when it’s time to invest our money in supplements, as women over 50 we should also consider other criteria. Yes, we might be inspired by cosy packaging or that yummy vanilla flavour, but still, most of the time, as wise consumers, we often prefer checking the source of what we are going to put into our bodies, without spending time trying to decode a supplement label.
In fact, we know that not all collagen supplements are created equal and some may contain preservatives and additives.
As a rule of thumb, since collagen is an animal product, we should aim at supplements from a reputable source. Look for products that come from grass-fed, pasture-raised animals or wild-caught fish. Better if they are flavourless, easy to use, and made of pronounceable ingredients.
“We’ll let you in on a little secret“, says Kaitlyn Rackens, co-founder of Collagen For Her, a boutique company led by women for women. “If your collagen has a taste, you are buying the wrong one. Being a woman is hard enough, taking supplements shouldn’t be. That’s why we have opted to simple and responsibly source products and ingredients that women can trust“.
What is the best type of collagen to take as a supplement?
Finding the right collagen in midlife can be overwhelming and confusing for many of us, as so many products are on the market. When looking at oral collagen supplements, dieticians suggest women over 50 should consider the following before making their choice:
- the collagen source (whether it’s marine or bovine)
- the type (hydrolysed, dipeptide, or tripeptide),
- the dose per day,
- the consistency (capsule or liquid).
Collagen For Her ticks all the boxes by offering products sourced from bovine, fish, and multi-collagen. “We recommend taking 1-2 servings of collagen per day which is usually between 5g-11g – explains Kaitlyn Rackens-. The most important thing is getting it daily which is why we offer powders, capsules, and gummies. This allows women to pick their preferred product and method of taking it while knowing the products are high quality and responsibly sourced“.
Of course, according to our lifestyle and depending on our needs, some options may be better than others.
Dermatologist Michele J. Farber, MD, of Schweiger Dermatology Group, says we should look “for hydrolyzed collagen as this is broken down into amino acids and may be easier to absorb”. She recommends, “Products with Types I and III collagen are also best, as these are the predominant collagen types in human skin, with the ratio shifting with age.”
Marine collagen supplements, in particular, thanks to their smaller particle size compared to other types of products, are considered more effective for women over 50s. Due to their superior bioavailability, these supplements are in fact easier to absorb by our bodies (up to 1.5 times more than other sources).
Do collagen supplements really work?
Studies have shown that collagen supplements can support collagen production, keep skin looking glowing and plump, as well as thicken the hair and strengthen the nails.
A review published in March 2020 in Nutrients, in particular, found that collagen peptides act as antioxidants to quelch damaging free radicals and inflammation (both of which are associated with chronic diseases and ageing) in skin cells.
In another small study, 50 women ages 45 to 60 took 10 grams (g) of a marine collagen powder supplement – for 12 weeks and had a 35 per cent reduction in wrinkles compared with a group who took a placebo powder, as was reported in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology in March 2021. Measures of skin elasticity, hydration, and firmness also improved.
Of course, we have to be consistent as results take time and may differ between individuals: consider a minimum of eight weeks to really see if it is working for you.