Many products contain hydrolyzed collagen, and there are a lot of supplements on the market. But what can hydrolyzed collagen really do for you?
Collagen is a protein found in the body of all animals, including humans. It makes up connective tissue like skin, tendons, cartilage, organs, and bones. When collagen is hydrolyzed, it’s broken down into smaller, easy-to-process particles. Those particles are used in products designed to heal everything from skin on the outside to joint pain on the inside.
Claim 1: It Can Help Joint Pain
Because joint cartilage contains collagen, and joint pain often comes from collagen loss, it is thought that collagen can reduce joint pain. Studies show that hydrolyzed collagen (or collagen hydrolysate) can help strengthen your joints and help with pain caused by conditions like osteoarthritis.
However, you don’t necessarily need supplements if you want to up your collagen intake. Meat contains a lot of collagen. When you eat meat, your body breaks down the collagen naturally. In fact, one study showed that when people with joint pain increased the amount of meat they ate, their pain improved.
Claim 2: It Can Treat Osteoporosis
While research is still in the early stages, a few studies show that hydrolyzed collagen may play a role in preventing and treating osteoporosis.
In one study in rats, researchers found that hydrolyzed collagen increased the organic content of bones and had a beneficial impact on osteoporosis. More research is needed to determine if other sources of collagen in other forms help, too.
Claim 3: It Helps Fix Wrinkles
Your skin is made up of collagen proteins, so it makes sense that collagen supplements can heal it. The effectiveness of products depends on how the collagen is made, and how the body uses it. There haven’t been long-term studies with large groups of people, but one 2014 study reports that taking Viscoderm supplements, which contain hydrolyzed collagen, twice a day can repair sun damage, improve sebum and hydration levels, and tone the skin.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also approved the use of hydrolyzed collagen implants to smooth wrinkles and fix acne scars. There are other claims that hydrolyzed collagen can be used in skin creams to improve skin structure, but they are not always backed up by research.
The FDA has recalled many products containing hydrolyzed collagen because manufacturers have made false claims about what they can do. Sometimes labels promise fixes that actually require medical attention, the FDA said in a 2014 statement.
As with any supplements or cosmetics, you should always read claims carefully. While drugs must get FDA approval before they are put on the market, cosmetics don’t need any approval before they can be sold. Always be suspicious of any product that claims it is magic, instant, or a miracle cure.