Ever since collagen supplements exploded onto the market, there has been some controversy over whether or not they, well, work. (Our take? They absolutely do, and there’s plenty of research to back us up!) UK-based doctor and nutrition research expert Iddy Mughal, MBBS, MRes agrees; recently, he even posted a quick summary of collagen supplement research, with some pretty interesting takeaways.
Not only does Mughal name-drop multiple clinical studies and a meta-analysis review showcasing the skin benefits of hydrolyzed collagen supplements, but he also touches on what happens when you stop taking them.* Here, a quick overview.
What happens when you stop taking collagen?
Hydrolyzed collagen supplements have been shown to promote the body’s natural levels of collagen.* This is important, especially for those with concerns about skin aging (think fine lines and wrinkles), as collagen production decreases with age.
The research shows that these hydrolyzed collagen peptides are able to support skin elasticity and dermal collagen density, assuming you consume it on a daily basis. But Mughal explains that “the beneficial effects [of collagen] lasted up to one month after stopping the supplement.”*
Let’s dive further into the research, shall we? One clinical trial found that participants who took 2.5 grams of collagen peptides once daily for 24 weeks experienced stronger nails and improved growth rate—and after four weeks post-supplementation, 88% of them had maintained that improvement. Another randomized controlled trial measuring eye wrinkle formation also found positive, long-lasting effects four weeks after the last time participants took collagen peptides (again 2.5 grams). Finally, a 2019 study found that a liquid collagen supplement (which included collagen peptides, acerola fruit extract, vitamin C, zinc, biotin, and a vitamin E complex) was associated with positive effects on skin hydration, elasticity, roughness, and density—and after a follow-up period of four weeks, those benefits were “substantially retained.”*
In context, this means that if you skip a day or two of your collagen supplement, you’re not going to see a dramatic drop off (although, we still recommend you stick to a daily routine if you can!). Again, that doesn’t mean you should slack off when it comes to collagen; the benefits noted in the clinical trials above came from a routine supplement routine. Emphasis on routine.
Mughal finishes up the video by noting that skin health is largely related to diet, but, “objectively speaking, collagen supplements do help.”* We agree, Mughal, and here’s a full guide to collagen supplements if you want to learn more about the research-backed benefits.
Plenty of nutrition experts jump at the opportunity to speak up about misinformation, especially on social media. Mughal provides some helpful context to a common misconception that collagen supplements don’t work, noting multiple clinical studies demonstrating quite the opposite. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should ignore a healthy diet as well; here’s a guide to caring for your skin from the inside out, complexion-enhancing foods included.
If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications, consult with your doctor before starting a supplement routine. It is always optimal to consult with a health care provider when considering what supplements are right for you.