This article will summarize all of the must-know information about collagen nutrition for registered dietitians.
Dietitian Success Center’s membership includes access to vitamin & mineral supplement guides, a comprehensive yet simplified reference for finding the best supplements for your clients. You can quickly find information on collagen nutrition in DSC’s collagen dietitian reference chart. Become a member of DSC today to get your collagen and biotin supplement reference guides.
Written by Miranda Galati, RD2BE
Reviewed by Olivia Farrow, RD, MHSc
Collagen is the most abundant protein in humans and mammals (1)
One of collagen’s most important roles in the body is helping tissues withstand stretching and maintain elasticity (2). It is found in skin, cartilage, muscle, blood vessels, tendons, ligaments, and other organs (3).
Although the human body produces collagen on its own (4), oral intake of collagen supplements has become increasingly popular. Early research suggests that oral collagen supplementation may help stimulate increased body collagen production (3).
Collagen Nutritional Role In The Body
There are over 28 different types of collagen in the human body, each serving a unique function (1). Most collagen found in humans is type I, II or III (1).
- Type I collagen is found in skin, bone, teeth, tendons, ligaments and organs (3).
- Type II collagen is found in cartilage (3).
- Type III collagen is found in skin, muscles and blood vessels (3)
Collagen helps support skin elasticity, tissue structure, bone strength, ligament traction, wound healing, blood vessel repair, cornea function, cell survival, and more (3,1).
Collagen Health Benefits
Early research suggests that collagen nutrition supplementation may offer some unique health benefits such as
- Improved skin and nail health (5, 6, 7)
- Improved nail health (5)
- Reduced joint pain (8, 9, 10).
- Improved body composition (11, 12).
Further research is needed to better understand how oral collagen supplementation impacts body collagen production or other health benefits. For example, it is unclear whether increased protein intake through diet or other supplements could produce similar beneficial effects (13).
DSC’s collagen dietitian supplement summary offers information on the types of collagen supplements and their uses. Supplement reference charts for supplements such as omega-3, magnesium, collagen and biotin with brand examples make it easier for you to support your clients with supplement choices.
Collagen Nutrition Recommendations To Increase Intake
A diet containing adequate protein may be sufficient for most people’s bodies to produce sufficient amounts of collagen (14).
Since collagen is rich in the amino acid glycine, some research suggests that a glycine-rich diet may be beneficial (14).
Glycine is found in meat, fish, dairy and legumes.
Indications, Contraindications & Safety
Collagen supplements are generally regarded as safe. However, human research on its indications, contraindications, side effects, toxicity, and overall safety is limited (15).
Individuals should consult their physician and/or pharmacist prior to using collagen or other supplements. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should especially take caution due to the lack of available research (16).
Heavy metal toxicity is a potential concern with collagen or other supplements as they are often poorly regulated (17).
Choosing a Collagen Supplement
Regulation of dietary supplements differs in Canada and the United States. Anyone choosing to consume collagen or other dietary supplements should consider the following precautions:
- In the United States, consult with a third-party organization that tests supplement quality and claims, such as ConsumerLab.com, NSF International, or U.S. Pharmocopeia (USP) (18).
- In Canada, look for an 8-digit Natural Product Number (NPN) or Homeopathic Medicine Number (DIN-HM) on the label. This ensures the product has been reviewed by Health Canada for safety, effectiveness and quality (19).
Get your collagen dietitian supplement reference chart with collagen supplement brand examples with your DSC membership.
Collagen Nutrition: Take-Home Messages for Dietitians
- Collagen is a highly abundant protein found in humans and mammals.
- In the body, collagen’s main function is to help tissues withstand stretching. It is found in skin, bone, ligaments, cartilage and other tissues.
- Collagen supplements may help the body produce more collagen. This may result in improved skin health and texture, improved nail health, reduced joint pain for patients with osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, or improved body composition. However, research is still too limited to provide concrete recommendations on supplementation.
- Further research is needed to guide recommendations around collagen supplementation.
At DSC, we make it easier for dietitians and dietetic students to build expertise in topics including collagen supplements. Our vitamin and mineral supplement guides, nutrition courses, ready-to-use client handouts, and community can help you feel more confident.
Dietitian Success Center is THE professional development resource for dietitians and dietetic students. Our mission is to make it easier for dietitians and dietetic students to build expertise. We do this through evidence-based online nutrition courses, community, and ready-to-use client handouts. Plus – we give you the tools to start and grow your dietitian private practice!
- Ricard-Blum, S. (2011). The Collagen Family. Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology, 3(1), a004978–a004978. 10.1101/cshperspect.a004978
- Berk, A., Lodish, H., Zipursky, S. L., Matsudaira, P., Baltimore, D., & Darnell, J. (2000). Molecular cell biology (W. H. Freeman, Ed.). Scientific American Library. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK21475/
- León-López, A., Morales-Peñaloza, A., Martínez-Juárez, V. M., Vargas-Torres, A., Zeugolis, D. I., & Aguirre-Álvarez, G. (2019). Hydrolyzed Collagen—Sources and Applications. Molecules, 24(22), 4031. 10.3390/molecules24224031
- Takeda, S., Park, J.-H., Kawashima, E., Ezawa, I., & Omi, N. (2013, August 6). Hydrolyzed Collagen Intake Increases Bone Mass Of Growing Rats Trained With Running Exercise. Journal Of The International Society Of Sports Nutrition. https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-10-35
- Barati, M., Jabbari, M., Navekar, R., Farahmand, F., Zeinalian, R., Salehi‐Sahlabadi, A., Abbaszadeh, N., Mokari‐Yamchi, A., & Davoodi, S. H. (2020b). Collagen supplementation for skin health: A mechanistic systematic review. J Cosmet Dermatol, 19(11), 2820–2829. 10.1111/jocd.13435
- Asserin, J., Lati, E., Shioya, T., & Prawitt, J. (2015). The effect of oral collagen peptide supplementation on skin moisture and the dermal collagen network: evidence from an ex vivo model and randomized, placebo‐controlled clinical trials. J Cosmet Dermatol, 14(4), 291–301. 10.1111/jocd.12174
- Miranda, R. B., Weimer, P., & Rossi, R. C. (2021). Effects of hydrolyzed collagen supplementation on skin aging: a systematic review and meta‐analysis. Int J Dermatol. 10.1111/ijd.15518
- Liu, X., Machado, G. C., Eyles, J. P., Ravi, V., & Hunter, D. J. (2018). Dietary supplements for treating osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Br J Sports Med, 52(3), 167–175. 10.1136/bjsports-2016-097333
- Porfírio, E., & Fanaro, G. B. (2016). Collagen supplementation as a complementary therapy for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis: a systematic review. Rev. Bras. Geriatr. Gerontol., 19(1), 153–164. 10.1590/1809-9823.2016.14145
- Bello, A. E., Oesser, S., Shioya, T., & Prawitt 4, J. (2006). Collagen hydrolysate for the treatment of osteoarthritis and other joint disorders:a review of the literature. Current Medical Research and Opinion , 22(11), 2221–2232. 10.1185/030079906X148373
- Zdzieblik, D., Oesser, S., Baumstark, M. W., Gollhofer, A., & König, D. (2015). Collagen peptide supplementation in combination with resistance training improves body composition and increases muscle strength in elderly sarcopenic men: a randomised controlled trial. Br J Nutr, 114(8), 1237–1245. 10.1017/S0007114515002810
- Hays, N. P., Kim, H., Wells, A. M., Kajkenova, O., & Evans, W. J. (2009). Effects of Whey and Fortified Collagen Hydrolysate Protein Supplements on Nitrogen Balance and Body Composition in Older Women. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 109(6), 1082–1087. 10.1016/j.jada.2009.03.003
- Oikawa, S. Y., Kamal, M. J., Webb, E. K., McGlory, C., Baker, S. K., & Phillips, S. M. (2020). Whey protein but not collagen peptides stimulate acute and longer-term muscle protein synthesis with and without resistance exercise in healthy older women: a randomized controlled trial. 111(3), 708–718. 10.1093/ajcn/nqz332
- Meléndez-Hevia, E., de Paz-Lugo, P., Cornish-Bowden, A., & Cárdenas, M. L. (2009). A weak link in metabolism: the metabolic capacity for glycine biosynthesis does not satisfy the need for collagen synthesis. J Biosci, 34(6), 853–872. 10.1007/s12038-009-0100-9
- Examine.com. (2020, August 27). Type-II Collagen Research Breakdown. Examine.Com. https://examine.com/supplements/type-ii-collagen/research/
- Health Canada. (2021, May 4). Hydrolyzed Collagen. Health Canada. http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca.ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/atReq.do?atid=hydrolized.collagen&lang=eng
- Reveals, C., & Supplements, C. (2019, January 1). ConsumerLab Reveals Best Collagen Supplements | ConsumerLab.com. ConsumerLab.Com . https://www.consumerlab.com/news/consumerlab-tests-reveal-best-collagen-supplements/10-04-2019/
- Office Of Dietary Supplements – Dietary Supplements: What You Need To Know. (n.d.). Retrieved May 28, 2021, from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/WYNTK-Consumer/
- Canada, H. (n.d.). Licensed Natural Health Products Database (LNHPD) – Canada.ca. Retrieved May 28, 2021, from https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-health-products/natural-non-prescription/applications-submissions/product-licensing/licensed-natural-health-products-database.html