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Can Collagen Supplements Improve Your Skin’s Appearance?

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If only.

Skin mostly consists of the protein collagen, which over time becomes fragmented, like a fraying rope. We also produce less of it as we age. The result: wrinkled and less-firm skin.

“Research has shown that if you improve your collagen, your skin will look better,” says Gary Fisher, professor of molecular dermatology at the University of Michigan.

But taking collagen or its building blocks (amino acids) is unlikely to help. Collagen, like any protein, gets broken down during digestion into amino acids, which are used to make new proteins. Those new proteins could be collagen or anything else, depending on what your body needs.

“But our body’s machinery that makes collagen doesn’t work as well as we age,” says Fisher. “So unless your diet is deficient, loading up on more amino acids by taking collagen supplements is not likely to do anything.”

Supplements like Doctor’s Best contain peptides: short chains of two or three amino acids. “But enzymes in the intestinal cells break peptides down into single amino acids,” says protein researcher Paul Moughan, of Massey University in New Zealand. “And that’s primarily what you will absorb.”

Bottom Line: Want to protect your skin? Invest in a broad-spectrum sunscreen, not collagen supplements.