Collagen in Your Coffee: Is It All Hype or the Fountain of Youth?
Most likely it’s somewhere in between
Collagen supplements are having a moment. The great thing about collagen supplements in powder form is that it easily dissolves in liquid, coffee, tea, smoothies, or soups.
Lately, I’ve seen collagen start to show up on menus as an add-in for coffee drinks and smoothies. The reason for the hype? Ingesting collagen is supposed to make your skin glow and your wrinkles disappear.
Let’s take a look at what the research tells us. And if you decide to jump on the collagen trend, how to get started. But first, let’s start with the basics.
What is collagen?
It’s a protein found in muscles, bones, and ligaments. It’s also the stuff that holds our skin together. Collagen combined with elastin keeps skin smooth and youthful. The word “collagen” comes from the Greek word “kolla," which is defined as “glue.”
So think of collagen as the glue that helps hold your body together. It decreases as we grow older, contributing to wrinkles, stiff joints, and decreasing muscle mass.
Your body makes collagen, but even if you are young, it needs the proper nutrients to do so. A poor diet leads to a loss of collagen. Eating the right foods can help boost your collagen-making abilities.
How can you increase collagen production?
There are several ways to get the nutrients you need for collagen production:
You can ingest foods with amino acids to boost your body’s ability to make collagen. This includes animal products like beef, chicken, eggs, and fish. Vegetarians can get amino acids from beans and legumes.
You can consume bone broth, which is considered one of the top foods to eat to increase collagen.
You can take a collagen supplement. The best form is in a powder known as collagen peptide. It is flavorless and is easily dissolved in drinks and soups.
What does the research say?
There are varying results from researchers. Some studies have been conducted on animals, which may not give the same results as human skin. Other studies were paid for by collagen brand companies, which may influence results.
A comprehensive review of the studies published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology looked at 11 studies, including 800 participants and the results were hopeful.
The supplements were found to be safe with no side effects, “Preliminary results are promising for the short and long-term use of oral collagen supplements for wound healing and skin aging. Oral collagen supplements also increase skin elasticity, hydration, and dermal collagen density.”
The researchers do conclude that more studies need to be done.
Adding collagen powder to drinks and foods at home
You may start to see collagen as an option when you’re dining out at specialty coffee shops or health-oriented cafes. But you don’t have to leave your house for a collagen boost. It’s very easy to mix into drinks at home. You can find collagen powder easily online at places like Amazon. But you should know, the products aren’t all the same.
Since collagen supplements are not FDA regulated, it’s good to choose companies that are safety-tested by a third party.
Good Housekeeping recommends that you choose a supplement with as few ingredients as possible, unflavored, and with third-party certification.
How much collagen should I take?
The answers vary. First, you can look at the recommendations from the collagen supplement that you buy. Vital Proteins recommends two scoops per day of their Collagen Peptides powder supplement. This would give you a 20-gram dose.
- Healthline did a review in 2019 of clinical studies and concluded that anywhere from 2.5 grams to 15 grams is safe and effective.
- Very Well Health recommends 2.5 grams to 10 grams per day, based on their review of the literature.
- WebMD agrees that 2.5 grams to 10 grams per day were shown to affect aging skin after 8 to 12 weeks.
- And finally, this study showed that up to 40 grams daily was safe and found to improve joint support in participants with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
The verdict? If you’re taking it for joint pain, you may want to try a higher dose. But if your goals are overall health and improved skin tone, try a dose on the lower end first to see if you get results.
I heard that collagen degrades at high temperatures. Is it safe to put it in coffee?
Yes, it does degrade at very high temperatures, but not at temperatures we need to be worried about when making coffee or tea. You would have to heat your coffee up to 572 degrees Fahrenheit before it began to degrade.
This blog does a great job explaining it if you want a more in-depth look. Since coffee is usually brewed around 185 degrees and water boils at 212 degrees, this shouldn’t be a problem for anyone.
Some studies have shown promising results. Collagen may be beneficial, but it’s not a magic bullet and the answer to everything. If you want healthy, glowing skin you need to do more than take a supplement. You need to do all the self-care things you already know about, like eating nutritious foods, getting exercise, and adequate sleep.
You may find some benefits by adding collagen supplements to a healthy lifestyle. For now, if you’d like to give collagen a try, we know it’s safe and won’t cause any harm (except maybe to your bank account.) Studies have shown some promising results. Of course, you can also try to get more collagen from your diet rather than buying a supplement.
Note: a previous version of this story was published on Medium.