Collagen supplement market grows in popularity

Collagen-enriched food has been promoted by several high-profile celebrities on social media recently, bolstering its position as a frontrunner in the dietary supplement and healthy eating industry.

In particular, collagen powder is a popular choice among new consumers. Many brands sell collagen as a supplement to improve a person’s fingernails, bone and skin quality, and promote anti-ageing.

It is one of the fastest growing supplements in the US already, with some healthcare professionals also recommending it for joint pain and hair loss.

What is collagen? In a way, collagen is the glue that binds the body together and it is the most abundant protein in mammals. Collagen represents 30 percent of a human body’s protein content.

But its supporters say that most people are not getting enough of the functional ingredient in their diet.

The owner of the sports nutrition and functional foods brand Supplement Giant, Adam Watts, explains: “Collagen is abundant in our body… it’s found in animal bones ligaments and tendons not traditionally part of our diet anymore.”

“If you have a deficiency of collagen in your skin it can decrease your skin health which can cause stretch marks, dark spots, infections,” he said.

Watts suggests people over 30 take the supplement regularly for healthy aging.

“After the age of 30, collagen decreases by 1%, so by the time you're 50, you've lost 20% of your collagen,” he said. "If you have injuries, collagen is going to help and repair tissue."

Right now, shoppers spend hundreds of millions of dollars on collagen dietary supplements and related functional food. Experts predict the industry will grow to over US$1.3 billion in the next decade.

“If we enhance the collagen production in our bodies, in a sense we fight the anti-aging process and we’re held together longer,” Benson commented.

Reflecting the boost in demand, the collagen craze has spread from cosmetic injections to functional food, skin creams and pills.

But with so many products on the market, how can consumers know what works, and what to look for?

Dietician Jessica Crandall Snyder added: "Being active on a daily basis you are actually helping to re-synthesize your collagen. So supplemental sources from protein powders may not be the way for you to get adequate nutrition."

Eggs, wild salmon, tomatoes, pumpkin and chia seeds are all low-cost foods that aid in collagen production.

While Supplement Giant sells collagen powder wholesale, other stores start the product at US$25 per unit. The experts say collagen powder works, but stress that people should be sure to get protein from a range sources.

As we age, we lose collagen and the ability to make it, according to dermatologist Dr. Robert Benson: “In the aging process, we can see that in the loss of elasticity. We start to sag and we get frumpy and we get cellulite."

This could explain why people are looking for an added extra lift.

Expert research has yielded beneficial results and proponents have continued to build a case for this piece of the anti-aging market that just keeps getting bigger.

“There’s increase in skin hydration, elasticity. One study found 6 months of using a collagen supplement led to a noticeable decrease in cellulite,” Benson explained. “I think we’re just scratching the surface of what the potential may be.”

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