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, such as 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.

Because joint cartilage contains collagen, and joint pain often comes from collagen loss, it’s 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, keep in mind that most studies showing joint pain improvement with collagen consumption have used high-dose collagen hydrolysate supplements.

It’s unclear whether simply increasing your dietary intake of collagen-rich foods, such as tough cuts of meat, would have the same effect.

While research is still in the early stages, a 2010 study showed that hydrolyzed collagen may play a role in preventing and treating osteoporosis.

A 2018 study in postmenopausal women found that treatment with 5 grams of collagen peptides per day for a year increased bone mineral density and improved markers indicating increased bone formation and reduced bone degradation.

More research is needed to determine if other sources of collagen in other forms help too.

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.

Some research has shown that taking collagen supplements may benefit the skin by reducing certain markers of aging.

One 2018 study involving 64 participants found that treatment with 1 gram of collagen peptides for 12 weeks significantly reduced wrinkling, and improved hydration and elasticity of the skin compared with a placebo group.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also approved the use of collagen implants to smooth wrinkles and treat acne scars.

There are other claims that collagen can be used in skin creams to improve skin structure, but they aren’t backed up by research.

The FDA has recalled several 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. Although cosmetics don’t require premarket approval like drugs, the FDA does regulate these products and can pursue action against companies that make false claims or mislabel their products.

Still, always be suspicious of any product that claims it’s magic, instant, or a miracle cure.