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Powder collagen supplements have become the latest trend in the wellness world Wochit
Drew Townsend credits collagen for his tight, smooth skin.
He doesn’t go to a doctor for routine injections, like one might assume. Instead, the fitness coach and independent Herbalife coach plops a collagen supplement into a glass of water and drinks it every day.
“The older I get, the younger I want to look,” he said. “And the result that I got made me look younger.”
Townsend, who owns Limestone Nutrition, a health and weight-management company in Wilmington, encourages people to try collagen supplements.
Even though the supplements are not regulated by the federal Food & Drug Administration, they are the latest trend in the wellness world and popping up all over social media. People have been adding the protein to their morning coffee, protein shakes and drinks for the potential benefits.
Proponents say collagen can help reduce wrinkles and cellulite as well as strengthen hair and nails. One Penn State study indicates it might help with joint pain. But others, including Sharon Collison, a registered dietitian nutritionist at University of Delaware, are hesitant to endorse the trend because there’s not enough information about how effective it is and what the best dosages are.
Collagen is a fibrous protein that represents one-third of the protein in our bodies. That means it’s the most abundant human protein. It helps secures cells to one another and is found in skin, bone, muscles, blood vessels, the digestive system and tendons. It’s what helps give our skin strength and elasticity, as well as helping to replace dead skin cells
As a person ages, collagen production declines. Smoking and exposure to UV light can reduce the amount of collagen a person has.
Different kinds of collagen supplements have emerged in recent months. Bulletproof Coffee— a Silicon Valley startup that created an energy drink consisting of coffee, butter and oil — now sells collagen protein supplements. Other popular brands include Vital Proteins, Further Food and Herbalife.
Depending on the product, the collagen typically comes from the connective tissues in cows or fish, but primarily grassfed cattle, according to product websites.
A study published by the Journal for Cosmetic Dermatology study said these supplements can increase skin hydration after eight weeks. The study concluded that collagen is an effective method to “improve hallmarks of skin aging.”
In 2005, the Penn State University researchers conducted a 24-week study to see the impact it can have on athletes. The researchers discovered that athletes had less pain in their joints after they started taking the supplement and noted that “future studies are needed to support these findings.”
Collison, the dietitian nutritionist at UD’s STAR Health Nutrition Center, said results of studies about collagen’s effects seem encouraging. But she wants more information about the products, so she wouldn’t currently recommend it to her clients.
Studies from clinical trials have shown that collagen has bioactive properties that can help bone tissue, such as stimulating bone forming cells and improving calcium absorption. They have also shown anti-inflammatory and antioxidant capacities, she said.
Collison said there currently aren’t enough studies about the supplement’s effects and larger randomized control trials are needed to confirm the results of earlier and smaller studies to clarify what an effective dosage is.
Collagen supplements not being regulated by the FDA is also a concern for Collison.
“It looks promising,” she said. “I was definitely intrigued. But I feel it’s not time yet.”
One way to evaluate the legitimacy of a supplement is to see if it has been verified by a third party, she said. A third party will make sure the product contains what the company say it contains.
Bottles that have “USP” for United States Pharmacopeial Convention or “NSF” for NSF International on the label are indicators of reliable third party testing, she said.
Nectar7 and Vital Proteins’ collagen products are listed as verified on NSF’s website. USP has yet to verify any collagen products, according to its website.
A Vital Protein 10-ounce container costs $25 and the 20-ounce is listed for $43. A 10.6-ounce bottle of Herbalife collagen powder is listed online for $46.
Marie Sheib, a registered nurse in North Wilmington who also sells diet supplements at her Wilmington store New Life Nutrition, has taken Herbalife vitamins for about six years but questioned the validity of collagen supplements when the product became available a year ago.
“I was a huge skeptic,” she said. “I was like, ‘Nah, that’s not possible.'”
But after 30 days of taking Herbalife’s Collagen Beauty Booster, Sheib said she noticed a “considerable difference” in her face. There are fewer fine lines and her skin seemed “supple and fuller,” she said.
She now includes the strawberry-lemonade flavored collagen supplement with her tea every morning.
“Now I’m a believer,” she said.
Contact Meredith Newman at (302) 324-2386 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @merenewman.
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