Maybe you just started taking a collagen supplement. How long until people will begin complimenting your skin’s youthful appearance, or until your joints stop hurting?
We wish we could give you a straight answer. Unfortunately, it’s not that straightforward. Everyone reacts slightly differently to collagen, so for some people it may be a lot sooner that they experience the benefits of collagen. It can also depend on the issue that is being tackled, and so much more.
First, let’s discuss how our body absorbs collagen.
Collagen is a big protein. This can make it difficult for our body to digest and absorb it. That’s why it is important to look for something that contains collagen peptides such as our Marine Collagen.
Collagen peptides are smaller, broken-down pieces of collagen. The smaller pieces make it easier for the body to absorb and reap the benefits. Collagen peptides are also often heat-treated. This means that you can safety add collagen powder to your hot drinks or cooking without the risk of destroying the protein. Heat can sometimes destroy proteins if they are not properly treated. With any of our collagen products, you won’t have to worry about that! All our collagen products contain hydrolyzed collagen peptides. So, feel free to add in a scoop of our powders to your cooking, baking, or hot drinks!
Once you’ve consumed collagen peptides, your body works to further break down the collagen. It does this so that it can use each individual amino acid that makes up collagen. When your body breaks down the collagen it can then absorb it and put it to use.
Collagen peptides are absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract (aka your gut). When the collagen has been absorbed, your body then uses the amino acids. These amino acids are used for lots of different things throughout your body. They can be used to grow your muscles, to help support the healing of a wound or injury, or even for skin health. This is partly why collagen can be used for so many different health or aesthetic purposes!
Collagen absorption is a complex topic. Basically, your body works to break down collagen into the smallest possible pieces. This makes it easier for your body to absorb and then use the collagen!
Now, to the burning question. How long does it take for collagen supplements to work?
The short answer? It depends. Studies vary in length depending on the issue that is being targeted. For example, a study investigating the effects of collagen on skin may run anywhere from 4 to 12 weeks and see benefits. In comparison, studies looking at collagen for joint health may be a lot longer and last up to almost a year before recording any noticeable benefits.
One of the best ways to get a better understanding about how long it takes for collagen supplements to work is to look at meta-analyses. A meta-analysis is a type of statistical analysis that combines the results of many different studies. This makes it very easy to compare the duration of studies to easily see how long one should take collagen before expecting results!
A meta-analysis compared evidence from 14 different studies on collagen and skin. Of these studies, one showed that collagen could benefit skin after just 4 weeks! Most studies, however, saw benefits to skin after 8 to 24 weeks of collagen supplementation.
Another meta-analysis looked at the effect of collagen supplementation on osteoarthritis symptoms. 5 different studies were included. Participants took a collagen supplement for anywhere from 10 to 48 weeks. At the end of the trials, they reported improvements in their arthritis symptoms.
As we can see, there isn’t a simple answer when it comes to determining how long it will take for you to see or feel the benefits of a collagen supplement. The important part about these studies is that participants took collagen every single day.
There are other factors that can affect how long it takes for a collagen supplement to begin working.
As we age, our collagen production decreases. Once we hit about our mid 20s, our collagen production begins to decline. A common visual sign of aging and a decrease of collagen is wrinkles in our skin.
A study found that age-dependent changes in collagen were most significant for type I collagen. As people got older, they had a bigger decline in type I collagen. Type I collagen is often associated with skin, hair, and nail health.
This means that someone who is older may see an effect from collagen faster than someone who is younger. Because they have lower levels of collagen in their skin, for example, even a bit of collagen would make a difference.
Did you know that males and females have differences in collagen production? Hormonal status may affect collagen remodeling. In fact, collagen production and skin thickness tend to decrease in men starting at about age 20. It’s safe to say that there are many benefits of collagen supplements for men.
Females tend to have a relatively consistent production in collagen compared to males. Collagen production decreases with age, but the big drop in collagen production often occurs around menopause.
Being a Canadian company, not only do we look at the research, but we also follow the collagen guidelines set out by Health Canada. Health Canada recommends between 2.5 and 10 grams of collagen to have an effect. With collagen, more doesn’t necessarily mean better or faster results.
A study showed consuming between 2.5 and 15 grams of collagen per day was the optimal amount to see benefits. It is important to note that taking more than 10 grams of collagen per day can cause digestive discomfort if not accustomed to taking a collagen supplement.
Of course, this can go the other way too. Taking too little collagen (less than 2.5 grams per day) may also slow your path to results.
Diet and Lifestyle
Diet is another factor that could influence how long it takes to see benefits from supplementing collagen. Eating foods that support the production of collagen may promote an increase in the production of collagen. A few examples of this include lean meats, eggs, vitamin C and copper. A study found that supplementing vitamin C and collagen resulted in more skin benefits than collagen alone.
Lifestyle factors can also influence the effects of collagen. We all know the importance of protecting our skin from the sun, right? Being out in the sun for hours on end without any sun protection can cause damage to our skin. And unfortunately, a collagen supplement won’t be able to repair this damage.
This applies to other lifestyle factors as well. Tobacco use, significant damage to joints, and excess intake of sugar are all lifestyle factors that accelerate collagen loss. While a collagen supplement may be able to help with this loss, some of these lifestyle implications are much more significant and cause more damage than a collagen supplement could fix. As such, these lifestyle factors could slow down the effects of collagen.
There is no one size fits all for determining how long it takes for people to reap the benefits of a collagen supplement. It can depend on a variety of factors. What truly matters when taking a collagen supplement is consistency. You can’t expect to see or feel the benefits of collagen if you only take it once a week! Consistency is key!
- Choi, F. D., Sung, C. T., Juhasz, M. L. W., & Mesinkovsk, N. A. (2019). Oral Collagen Supplementation: A Systematic Review of Dermatological Applications. Journal of Drugs in Dermatology: JDD, 18(1), 9–16.
- García-Coronado, J. M., Martínez-Olvera, L., Elizondo-Omaña, R. E., Acosta-Olivo, C. A., Vilchez-Cavazos, F., Simental-Mendía, L. E., & Simental-Mendía, M. (2019). Effect of collagen supplementation on osteoarthritis symptoms: A meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials. International Orthopaedics, 43(3), 531–538.
- Kehlet, S. N., Willumsen, N., Armbrecht, G., Dietzel, R., Brix, S., Henriksen, K., & Karsdal, M. A. (2018). Age-related collagen turnover of the interstitial matrix and basement membrane: Implications of age- and sex-dependent remodeling of the extracellular matrix. PLoS ONE, 13(3), e0194458.
- Paul, C., Leser, S., & Oesser, S. (2019). Significant Amounts of Functional Collagen Peptides Can Be Incorporated in the Diet While Maintaining Indispensable Amino Acid Balance. Nutrients, 11(5), 1079.
- Rahrovan, S., Fanian, F., Mehryan, P., Humbert, P., & Firooz, A. (2018). Male versus female skin: What dermatologists and cosmeticians should know. International Journal of Women’s Dermatology, 4(3), 122–130.