The reason why it's blown up as a sort of diet or vitamin staple is because that vault you have within you is constantly being subtracted from your system (sorry). As we age—along with plenty of other markers—collagen is broken down and the production of new protein slows. So yes, we're always making more of the stuff, but at the same time, we're constantly depleting it as well. So just how much collagen do you need to replenish over time? Keep reading to find out.
Why does collagen naturally deplete?
"Our skin cells continually make new collagen to help support the structure of the skin," explains Joshua Zeichner, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York. "After the age of 30, however, collagen production and cell turnover starts to slow down, contributing to the natural aging process. Plus, environmental exposures like UV light and pollution can also cause damage to collagen, leading to early wrinkling."
Besides that, general lifestyle factors contribute to collagen loss as well: "Diet, water intake, and sleep affect your levels along with the biggest culprit being the sun," says Louise Marchesin, global head of marketing at Skinade. "It also must be mentioned that genetics play an important part in how your skin will age."
How much collagen do you need to help make up the difference?
So all of this kind of begs the question: How much should you be taking in order to compensate for all of its loss? Just like with other supplements, the amount you should take can vary. "If your body's breaking down collagen more rapidly due to factors including your exercise regimen, your environment, and your stress levels, you might want to consider adjusting your collagen intake through your daily diet and supplementation to help your body and skin regain balance," says Whitney Bowe, MD, a board-certified dermatologist who works with Body Kitchen Collagen.
Something to remember is that collagen is a form of protein. "So when you're trying to determine how much you need, the first step is to calculate how much protein your body needs daily," explains Dr. Bowe. "A good general rule is to aim to get about as many grams of protein as your weight in pounds." And incorporated into this mix would be the amount that you're consuming as well (not the collagen alone, mind you).
On a more general level, Dr. Bowe says the magic number is two scoops of collagen powder daily. "It's really not recommended to take more than that," she says, noting that there are 20 milligrams of collagen in each scoop.
It's important to take into consideration, though, that your collagen levels do decrease with age. "Our collagen production starts to slow down from our early twenties at the rate of one to one and a half percent a year," says Marchesin.
To supplement your daily collagen supplement routine, look for incorporating more of it into your diet in an organic way. "Most people are not getting enough collagen from their regular diet," says Dr. Bowe. "If you're not a salmon skin eater, for example, then I would definitely consider trying some bone broth, which is rich in collagen-building amino acids."
Besides that, you generally can't take too much collagen; but since it is pricey and your body can only do so much with it at a given time, stick to the golden number of scoops in your daily regimen and you'll be golden.
Are there different types of collagen?
Yes, there are. In addition to there being three main different types of collagen (I, II, and III) that do different things for your body, there are also different sources. According to the Vital Proteins website, type I is the most prevalent throughout the body, and it's helpful for the health of hair, skin, and nails as well as vital to organs and bones. Type II is less prevalent, but it's helpful with cartilage, and type III works alongside type I in places like bone marrow. Though, as we noted in the past, there are up to 28 other types that are prevalent in the body, so just focus on your overall intake, not which kind you're ingesting.
To help supplement your intake of collagen, you can opt for marine and animal sources. While Dr. Bowe suggests getting these from your diet, you can also supplement with scoops, pills, or any other preferred method for getting your daily dose in.
Published March 5, 2019; Updated March 26, 2021.
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