What Is Liquid Collagen?

It is associated with healthier skin and nails

Liquid collagen is a form of collagen 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. As we age, our bodies start producing less collagen over time.

Manufacturers of collagen supplements say that their products can result in smoother skin, shinier hair, stronger nails, healthier joints, and a leaner muscle mass, but their claims are not backed up by scientific evidence.

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What Is Liquid Collagen?

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

Collagen supplements are made from the collagen found in the connective tissue of animals like cows, pigs, fish, and chickens. It is then offered in a powder or liquid form that can be added to foods like soups, smoothies, or even coffee. 

Despite its many health and beauty claims, many of liquid collagen’s benefits are anecdotal. Much more scientific research is needed to prove that collagen supplement is the best way to get collagen. 

Types of Liquid Collagen

It’s important to do your homework when choosing the right liquid collagen for you. As with any supplement, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not test collagen for safety and effectiveness. Look for supplements with simple ingredients that don’t have a lot of added sugars.

You may also want to choose a collagen supplement with vitamin C. This antioxidant is believed to help your body absorb collagen. 

Pre-Made 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 love the taste of your supplement, try adding it to a fruit smoothie or yogurt in the morning. Most collagen supplements are meant to be taken every day, and manufacturers recommend taking them consistently for weeks to months to start noticing a difference. 

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

Other forms of collagen to try include capsules, topical treatments, and 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. 

Topical collagen has been used to improve the appearance of the skin. Studies show that most topical collagen supplements tend to stay on the skin’s surface and aren’t able to reach the deeper layers. For this reason, topical treatments may not be as effective. 

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. 

Composition of Liquid Collagen

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

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

  • Skin elasticity: Our skin is made up of about 75% collagen. Studies show that women who take collagen daily report improved skin elasticity and increased 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
  • Healthy heart: Collagen serves as a building block for our arteries. Over time, these arteries can harden and lead to atherosclerosis and heart disease. A 2017 study found that taking a daily collagen supplement can reduce artery stiffness and help to 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 

Why Take a Collagen Supplement?

If our bodies naturally produce collagen, is a supplement really necessary? It’s helpful to remember that while the anecdotal evidence on liquid collagen’s benefits looks promising, it’s still not conclusive. However, if you choose to take a collagen supplement, it could help your body replace what it’s losing in the normal aging process.

Our bodies start to lose collagen in our 20s, and by age 40, each of us starts to lose around 1% of our total collagen every year. By the time you reach 80 years old, you will have lost 75% of the collagen you had as a young adult.

Risks

We know that our bodies lose collagen as we age, so taking a supplement makes sense. However, more research is needed to determine how effective collagen supplements really are. When we ingest collagen, our gastrointestinal tracts break it down and use it as building blocks for tissues. We can’t control where our systems send the collagen. If you’re seeking beauty benefits from collagen, your body may use it to build muscle or cushion your joints instead of giving you younger-looking skin. 

It’s important to 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 opt for bovine (cow) collagen instead. 

While a collagen supplement could be helpful for tissue health, it must be accompanied by a healthy lifestyle. Eating a diet rich in protein could mean that you don’t require a collagen supplement because you’re 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. 

A Word From Verywell

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 doctor about your diet and current medications to determine the right supplement for you. Hold off on starting a collagen supplement if you are currently pregnant or nursing. 

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Article Sources
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