What Is Liquid Collagen?

A Supplement Used for Healthier Skin and Nails

Liquid collagen is a supplement believed to help improve skin elasticity and muscle mass and prevent signs of aging. Collagen is a naturally occurring protein in your body that holds tissues together and supports the structure of your skin, bones, and muscles.

With age, the body starts producing less collagen over time, which is why liquid collagen supplements are appealing to many people.

The manufacturers of collagen supplements claim their products lead to smoother skin, shinier hair, stronger nails, and healthier joints. Some people say that liquid collagen supplements can help with weight loss and leaner muscle mass. However, these claims are not backed up by scientific evidence.

This article will go over what collagen supplements are used for. You will learn about what the research says about using collagen supplements for weight loss, skin health, and more.

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What Is Collagen?

Collagen makes up one-third of the protein in the human body. It is a vital component of the skin, connective tissues, cartilage, and bones. Liquid collagen contains collagen peptides, which are broken down into smaller elements that are easier for the body to absorb.

Collagen supplements are made from collagen found in the connective tissue of animals like cows, pigs, fish, and chickens; laboratory generated vegan collagen exists as well. You can get collagen supplements in powder or liquid forms, which can be added to foods like soups, smoothies, or coffee. 

Despite the claims, many benefits of liquid collagen supplements are only anecdotal—which means people claim them but there isn't scientific evidence to prove them. More research is needed to prove that a collagen supplement is the best way to get collagen and reap its benefits.

Types of Liquid Collagen

There are different types of liquid collagen available, but you'll want to do your homework. As with any supplement, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not test collagen for safety and effectiveness.

Look for liquid collagen supplements made with simple ingredients and no added sugars.

Why Do People Take Collagen Supplements?

If our bodies naturally make collagen, is a supplement really necessary? Your body starts to lose collagen in your 20s. By age 40, you'll lose around 1% of your total collagen every year. By the time you reach your 80s, you will have lost 75% of the collagen you had as a young adult.

Taking a collagen supplement may help your body replace what it’s losing in the normal aging process, but more research is needed. While the anecdotal evidence for liquid collagen’s benefits is promising, it’s not conclusive.

Pre-Made Liquid Collagen Supplement Drinks

Once collagen is extracted from its animal source, it’s made into a powder for supplementation. It’s possible to purchase pre-made collagen drinks that contain the dissolved powder in water or other beverages. These small drinks can be consumed on their own or mixed into other foods. If you don’t like the taste, try adding the supplement to a fruit smoothie or yogurt.

Most collagen supplements are meant to be taken every day. Manufacturers recommend taking them consistently for weeks to months to start noticing a difference. 

Always ask your provider before starting a collagen supplement—especially if you have a medical condition, are taking medications, or are currently pregnant or breastfeeding.

Collagen Supplement Powders

Collagen supplements commonly come in powdered form that can be dissolved in other liquids. These powders come in a variety of flavors and can be mixed into a glass of water or other food.

If you’d prefer not to taste your supplement, try blending it into a smoothie or soup. The powder tends to dissolve in warm liquids best.

If you prefer to drink it cold, you may find it helpful to dissolve the powder into a small amount of warm water, then add that liquid into your smoothie or cold drink.

Other Ways to Take Collagen

You can also get collagen by taking collagen capsules and simply eating more collagen-rich foods.

Collagen capsules contain powdered collagen, so they provide the same benefits as the powdered form of collagen. You may find that taking a capsule each morning is more convenient than blending up a smoothie for your powder. 

A great source of collagen is also the easiest: your diet. Collagen is made from animal products, so consuming protein-rich foods like beef, poultry, fish, and dairy products can give you a boost of collagen as well.

Bone broth is a popular source of dietary protein and collagen; it’s made from simmering animal bones in water. While the bones are rich in protein and collagen, it’s unclear if drinking the broth holds any health benefits. 

What Is in Liquid Collagen Supplements?

When we eat protein, our bodies break it down into its amino acids and then reassemble them once they are digested. The benefit of most liquid collagens is that they are hydrolyzed. That means that its large proteins have already been broken down, saving our bodies a step and making them easier to absorb. It also makes the collagen powder or liquid better able to dissolve into liquids like smoothies or coffee. 

Benefits of Collagen Supplements

Collagen supplements have several reported health benefits. Many of these claims require more research, but preliminary findings are promising:

  • Skin elasticity: Our skin is made up of about 75% collagen. One study found that women who took collagen daily reported improved skin elasticity and increased skin hydration.
  • Wrinkle reduction: As our bodies produce less collagen as we age, our skin will begin to wrinkle and sag. Studies in women between the ages of 35 and 65 have found that taking a daily collagen supplement over 12 weeks improved skin thickness and firmness, making wrinkles less visible.
  • Joint health: Arthritis is caused by a lack of collagen between the joints, which results in pain and inflammation. Taking collagen daily may help to protect the cartilage around the joints and slow down the effects of arthritis.
  • Bone loss prevention: A 2016 study found that taking a collagen supplement daily can improve bone mineral density and help relieve pain in women with osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.
  • Building muscle mass: Each of us loses muscle mass as we age. A 2019 study found that the combination of strength training exercises and a daily collagen supplement helped to build and keep muscle mass over time.
  • Less fat accumulation: There have not been many human studies on using collagen supplements for weight loss, but a 2019 study found that people taking a certain kind of collagen supplement from fish (skate) had reduced amounts of body fat. However, the reduction in body fat was not very big.
  • Healthy heart: Collagen serves as a building block for our arteries. Over time, the arteries can harden and lead to atherosclerosis and heart disease. A 2017 study found that taking a daily collagen supplement reduced artery stiffness and may help prevent and treat artery disease.
  • Strong nails and teeth: Collagen helps to build and strengthen our teeth and nails. A 2017 study found that when women with brittle nail syndrome took a daily collagen supplement, they experienced a 12% increase in nail growth and a 42% decrease in nail breakage.

Collagen Supplement Risks

Collagen supplements can have risks, including that they simply won't give you the effect you're hoping for. It's also possible to be allergic to some ingredients in collagen supplements.

  • No benefits (or not the benefits you want). When you ingest collagen, your gastrointestinal tract breaks it down and uses it as building blocks for tissues. However, you can't control where your system sends the collagen from there. Just because you want the beauty benefits from collagen doesn't mean your body won't use it to build muscle or cushion your joints instead of giving you younger-looking skin. 
  • Allergic reactions. Read about the source of your collagen supplement to ensure that you do not have any allergies to the ingredients. For example, if you have an allergy to fish or shellfish, avoid marine collagen sources and choose bovine (cow) collagen instead.

Summary

Collagen is an important protein in our bodies. While more studies are needed, collagen supplements may provide benefits to skin and muscle health. If you’re ready to try liquid collagen, talk with your healthcare provider about your diet and current medications. They can help you figure out the right supplement to take.

Taking a collagen supplement needs to be part of an overall healthy lifestyle. Eating a diet that's rich in protein can help you avoid needing a collagen supplement because you’ll be getting enough from your protein sources like meat and fish. Activities like smoking, sunbathing, and eating excess sugar can damage the collagen in your body.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is it safe to take liquid collagen?

    Liquid collagen is generally considered safe when used as directed. However, supplements are not regulated by the FDA, which means they're not tested for safety. Choosing a supplement verified by a third party, like USP, can at least guarantee that the product contains what it says it dose.

  • How do I know if I need collagen supplements?

    There is no test to check collagen levels in the body, but everyone naturally makes less collagen as they age. You may want to increase collagen in your diet or use supplements if you see signs of less collagen such as:

    • More wrinkles
    • Wounds healing more slowly
    • Arthritis 
    • Loss of muscle mass
  • Can collagen supplements really help hair grow?

    There is limited research on the direct benefits, but a small study did show that women who said their hair was thinning saw increased hair growth after taking oral collagen supplements for three to six months.

  • Can collagen supplements help you lose weight?

    Most of the studies on collagen supplements and weight loss have been done in animals, not humans. However, a 2019 study found that people taking a type of collagen supplement from skate (fish) had less accumulation of body fat.

11 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  5. Bernardes Fanaro, G, Porfirio, E. Collagen supplementation as a complementary therapy for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis: a systematic review. Revista Brasileira de Geriatria e Gerontologia. 2016 Jan;19(1). doi: 10.1590/1809-9823.2016.14145 

  6. Oertzen-Hagemann V, Kirmse M, Eggers B, Pfeiffer K, Marcus K, de Marées M, Platen P. Effects of 12 Weeks of Hypertrophy Resistance Exercise Training Combined with Collagen Peptide Supplementation on the Skeletal Muscle Proteome in Recreationally Active Men. Nutrients. 2019 May 14;11(5):1072. doi: 10.3390/nu11051072

  7. Tak, Young Jin et al. “Effect of Oral Ingestion of Low-Molecular Collagen Peptides Derived from Skate (Raja Kenojei) Skin on Body Fat in Overweight Adults: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial.” Marine drugs vol. 17,3 157. 7 Mar. 2019, doi:10.3390/md17030157

  8. Tomosugi N, Yamamoto S, Takeuchi M, Yonekura H, Ishigaki Y, Numata N, Katsuda S, Sakai Y. Effect of Collagen Tripeptide on Atherosclerosis in Healthy Humans. J Atheroscler Thromb. 2017 May 1;24(5):530-538. doi: 10.5551/jat.36293.

  9. Hexsel D, Zague V, Schunck M, Siega C, Camozzato FO, Oesser S. Oral supplementation with specific bioactive collagen peptides improves nail growth and reduces symptoms of brittle nails. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2017 Dec;16(4):520-526. doi: 10.1111/jocd.12393

  10. Choi FD, Sung CT, Juhasz MLW, Mesinkovsk NA. Oral collagen supplementation: a systematic review of dermatological applications. J Drugs Dermatol. 2019;18(1):9-16.

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Additional Reading

By Carrie Madormo, RN, MPH
Carrie Madormo, RN, MPH, is a health writer with over a decade of experience working as a registered nurse. She has practiced in a variety of settings including pediatrics, oncology, chronic pain, and public health.