For the last four weeks, I’ve been spiking my own coffees with a sachet of slightly salty powdered collagen (please don’t tell my barista).
In the name of service journalism, I also tried it mixed in with green tea, but could never quite bring myself to try it mixed alone with water (I still have a sachet left if you’re braver than I am – which, to be honest, most of you probably are).
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Why, you may well ask, have I been swapping sugar for the hydrolysed scales of deep sea snapper? Because, dear reader, while sugar is a known enemy of clear complexions, collagen supplements promise younger, plumper, healthier skin.
I’ve been taking Vida Glow Marine Collagen supplements, which are said to be tasteless and odourless. I found them a little salty, but that could just be my imagination.
As anyone with the teeniest bit of interest in anti-ageing knows, our bodies are rich in collagen – in fact, it comes second only to water – until some point in our twenties, when everything goes south. Our natural collagen production slows to the point where it eventually stops altogether – and that’s when wrinkles, sun spots, brittle nails and dry hair join the party.
According to Anna Lahey, Vida Glow founder, Japanese women have been harnessing the beautifying benefits of marine collagen for centuries. Lahey has been taking it ever since a trip to Japan, and anecdotally reports better skin, hair, nails and even cellulite reduction (now I’ve got your attention).
She gives me numerous scientific, published studies that back up marine collagen’s claims. They go as far back as 1992, when Eskelinin et al found in a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial that women aged between 40-60 experienced epidermal and dermal thickening and increased skin elasticity (pretty sure that’s science speak for plumper skin) after 90s days on collagen supplements.
A more recent 2015 study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology found that “oral collagen peptide supplementation significantly increased skin hydration after 8 weeks of intake.”
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And yet, other experts aren’t so sure. Most don’t see how the collagen could survive the digestion process, which breaks down the protein we eat, collagen included, into amino acids, to be used by the body for whatever it needs.
Lahey asserts that the Vida Glow collagen powder is able to “pass through the lining of the stomach and is absorbed by the bloodstream, and delivered by blood vessels to the collagen matrix below the dermis.”
I can’t verify that claim, but I’m willing to keep adding collagen to my coffee to find out.
This article originally appeared on marie claire.
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