Science Update

New review demonstrates the benefits of collagen peptides for dermatological applications

The use of collagen supplementation has increased exponentially over the past two years; however, not all collagen is considered equal. Collagen supplements can come from a variety of sources such as porcine, bovine, or marine. In addition, there are variations in quality and molecular weight (mass), which affect absorption and efficacy.

Collagen is digested in the gastrointestinal tract and mainly broken down into single amino acids and di-peptides, which enter the bloodstream and accumulate in various tissues depending on molecular weight. Low molecular weight is important for superior absorption.

Collagen is the most abundant component of the extracellular matrix, comprising 75% of the skin. In a review published last month, researchers demonstrated the efficacy of collagen supplementation for dermatological applications.

This review consisted of 11 studies including 805 patients. Eight studies used collagen hydrolysate (which has a low molecular weight) at doses ranging from 2.5 to 10 grams per day over a period of 8 to 24 weeks for the treatment of pressure ulcers, dry skin, skin aging, and cellulite. These studies resulted in a significantly better pressure ulcer scale for healing, reduction of wrinkle volume, improved skin elasticity, increased skin moisture, and significantly decrease in degree of cellulite. In addition, two studies used collagen tripeptides at 3 grams per day for 4 to 12 weeks, with a noticeable improvement in skin elasticity and hydration. 

Collagen use has also expanded into the treatment of some dermatological conditions such as atopic and allergic contact dermatitis. Thus, this review also included one 12-week study comparing the effect of collagen supplementation in 13 patients with atopic dermatitis using 3.9 grams per day. The patients that supplemented with collagen demonstrated a significant decrease in immune response and inflammation. After 12 weeks, skin eruption areas, disease severity, skin hydration, and itchiness were all significantly improved with collagen supplementation.

This meta-analysis demonstrated that collagen is effective in supporting various dermatological conditions, such as wound healing, skin elasticity, hydration and dermal collagen density. Other applications for collagen supplementation include osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, and improving blood pressure and insulin resistance. It is important to use a high-quality collagen supplement that is supported by clinical research and is of a low molecular weight in order to optimize absorption and efficacy.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS

Source: Choi FD, Sung CT, et al. Oral Collagen Supplementation: A Systemic Review of Dermatological Applications. J Drugs Dermatol. 2019 Jan 1;18(1):9-16.