What collagen does to your skin

Collagen drinks for beauty - beauty out of the box?

What does the advertisement promise?

Fewer wrinkles around the eyes, a more beautiful complexion or elastic skin with youthful elasticity - the advertising promises with regard to collagen drinks are diverse. But are these statements even allowed? It depends: In fact, manufacturers or suppliers of food are allowed to advertise with statements that only have cosmetic consequences. Health-related statements, on the other hand, also have to be officially approved for so-called "beauty products" within the framework of the Health Claims Regulation (HCVO). In the case of collagen, numerous advertising statements by courts have so far been assessed as health-related and therefore viewed as illegal due to a lack of evidence.

This concerns inter alia. Statements such as "for a firmer complexion", "collagen has a skin-smoothing effect", "nourishes your skin" or "for the supporting structure of our skin" as well as "less visible wrinkles". Manufacturers and sellers are not allowed to advertise foods containing collagen (and food supplements are foods) with such statements. Product names such as "skin lifting drink" or "anti-aging drink" are also special health-related claims in the sense of the HCR and are not permitted because they have not been explicitly approved.

There are some studies that show a slight improvement in the depth of wrinkles and skin elasticity through the ingestion of collagen, but it is extremely questionable whether these smallest changes are perceived by the eye or lead to a "younger" appearance. After review by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the EU has rejected health claims made on collagen (as well as hyaluronic acid) in foods related to improved skin structure and joint health due to a lack of scientific evidence. Such information may therefore not be used for advertising either. In order to circumvent the ban on advertising with regard to collagen, manufacturers often add vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals to their collagen-containing products.

It is scientifically proven that z. B. copper, iodine, biotin, niacin, riboflavin, B2, vitamin A, vitamin C, and zinc have functions in the skin metabolism. The European Commission has therefore given health-related claims such as B. "Biotin contributes to the maintenance of normal skin", approved. But be careful: The statement that a nutrient "helps maintain normal skin" does not mean that taking a dietary supplement can actually improve the appearance of the skin. You can also maintain the normal function of your skin with vitamins, minerals and trace elements from natural foods.

Even if the sale in the pharmacy and the fact that many collagen-based food supplements have a central pharmaceutical number (PZN) suggests otherwise: There is no scientific proof of positive effects on the skin from taking the often very expensive collagen-containing food supplement!

What can I do myself, what do I have to pay attention to?

  • If you have real skin problems, please speak to your dermatologist first.
  • Products with collagen generally involve the risk of allergic reactions and intolerance. This is especially true for fish allergy sufferers if the collagen was made from fish skins.
  • Some products contain nicotinamide / nicotinic acid (vitamin B3), which can trigger intolerance reactions such as facial redness and hot flashes if consumed too much. Products should not contain more than 4 mg of nicotinic acid or 160 mg of nicotinamide per daily dose.
  • Products with absorption enhancers made from bioperines with piperine, an extract from black pepper: According to the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), adults should not consume more than 2 milligrams of isolated piperine per day from food supplements. The BfR advises pregnant women against using such agents. Pay attention to the list of ingredients and the quantities.
  • If you do not want to take products from pork, pay particular attention to the product labeling, as the majority of collagens are obtained from pork rind.
  • There is no such thing as vegan collagen. Products that are called vegan usually contain an amino acid mix of glycine, proline, hydroxyproline and L-lysine.
     

Our tip
A balanced diet with lots of vegetables and fruits, as well as adequate fluid intake in the form of water and unsweetened tea, is good for your skin and offers many other health benefits. Trace elements such as copper from nuts, pulses, fish and liver as well as manganese from oat flakes, wholemeal flour or lentils support the formation and maintenance of connective tissue. The most effective measures against premature skin aging and for a healthy complexion are sun protection (but not with beta-carotene), refraining from smoking and getting enough sleep.

What is collagen anyway?

Collagen is a protein in the connective tissue, which among other things is contained in skin, bones and cartilage. It occurs in the body in numerous different variants, depending on which connective and supporting tissue it is. Different types of collagen are differentiated biochemically; The human skin consists mainly of collagen type I. Collagen in food consists of the collagen of the skin and bones of pigs and cattle, but also of poultry and fish scraps. It will, inter alia. used to make gelatine, nutritional supplements and personal care products.

In food supplements, collagen is usually used as a water-soluble collagen hydrolyzate, which is obtained from slaughterhouse waste from pigs and cattle. Food supplements containing collagen are often offered as drinking ampoules.

Does the skin need collagen from supplements?

Collagen molecules mainly consist of proline and glycine. These two amino acids are not essential, which means that they do not have to be taken in through food, but can be produced in the body itself.

With increasing age, collagen structures in the deeper layers of the skin are damaged and broken down by environmental influences. The body's ability to produce collagen itself also decreases. The body's own collagen has a lower water-binding capacity - the skin appears slacker. Dietary supplements do not change anything about these natural aging processes.

Those who eat a varied diet take in sufficient protein and thus also all the important protein building blocks (amino acids) that the body needs in addition to vitamin C for collagen formation. Protein is found in abundance, for example, in milk and dairy products, legumes, whole grain products, fish, meat and meat products, and poultry.