We give you the lowdown on this health and beauty booster.
MULTIPLE HEALTH BENEFITS
Often referred to as the structural “glue” in our bodies that holds everything together, collagen accounts for 75% of the protein in our skin, and a third of our overall protein production. It has long been touted for promoting hair growth, developing strong nails and reducing fine lines. We also need collagen to help repair bruises and broken bones.
Today, more and more science is showing that collagen is also essential to improving gut health and reducing arthritis pain by slowing down joint degradation as we age. Since our natural collagen production already starts to decline
by the age of 25, outside sources of this protein may be beneficial in reaping these benefits.
The global demand for collagen was estimated at 920.1 tons in 2019, and its compound annual growth rate is expected to be 5.9% from 2020 to 2027, according to the Collagen Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis report, published by Grand View Research in February 2020.
BEYOND SKIN CARE
With its connection to combating wrinkles, collagen is already widely used topically in skincare products. But more and more companies are finding ways to add it to a variety of foods and beverages—including protein bars, popcorn and bone broths. This year, Canadian company Organika released the first low-sugar, high-protein collagen cookie called FÄV; and Flow Water released three flavours (cucumber, pink grapefruit and watermelon) of collagen-infused water. “While it’s easy to add your own collagen supplements/powders to smoothies, tea or coffee, I’m excited to see companies bringing it into functional snacking too,” says Rhiannon Lytle, a registered holistic nutritionist at Organika. With so many flavour options for collagen supplements these days, consumers are making their own juices and collagen popsicles too, adds Katie Mitton, product category manager at Goodness Me! Natural Food Market in Ontario, where collagen has been particularly popular over the last year. “Even those who are doing intermittent fasting are putting it in their morning coffee for a protein boost until they can eat again,” she says. “This is a trend that I think will keep growing.” But Dana McCauley, director of new venture creation at the University of Guelph, cautions this is still an area of “fuzzy science,” as we don’t know for certain how the body absorbs collagen from outside sources. That said, she expects collagen products to appeal to baby boomers looking to improve skin and joint health, and millennials looking to discover that next new thing.
VEGANS BE WARY
Collagen is sourced from bovine, chicken and marine animals, so people with animal and seafood allergies need to be careful consuming these products, says registered dietitian Jane Dummer of Jane Dummer Food Consulting. Some companies are working on plant-based alternatives with ingredients that encourage the body to make its own collagen, but they don’t actually contain the protein. Dummer encourages consumers, as well as grocers who carry collagen products, to check whether manufacturers are sourcing collagen ethically and using evidence-based research to develop items that really do deliver on their collagen promise. She points to the Collagen Stewardship Alliance as a good source of information for global standards and scientific research. “The source of the collagen, how it is delivered and if the efficacy is there should all be transparent to the consumer.”