6 On Your Side: Consumer Confidence, The Collagen Craze

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(ABC 6 News) – Collagen is yet another trend many consumers are adding to their list, with promises of younger-looking skin and flexible joints. But, does this craze actually have benefits?

Fitness enthusiast Tracy Eck exercises at least 5 days a week. Everything from tennis, to weight training, to pilates.

When she started having pain in her knee, her doctor recommended surgery. But before going under the knife, Tracy tried collagen supplements, just to see if the hype she had heard might give her some pain relief.

“6-8 weeks after I started, I didn’t go to my freezer and pull out my ice packs the way I usually do and sit and ice my knees. It felt like a miracle to me,” says Eck.

Even since the surgery, she’s been taking collagen daily in her coffee, and even in soups.

Tracy is among the thousands of U.S. consumers who spent $222 million on collagen supplements in 2021 alone.

So what makes this popular protein so special?

“As we age, we produce less of it, so the skin starts to sag and wrinkle. And without enough fresh collagen, our tendons, ligaments, and joints can be less flexible,” explains Lauren Friedman, Consumer Reports Health Editor.

So is taking more collagen the answer? Consumer Reports says early research shows promise but more evidence is needed. And when it comes to supplements of any kind, use them with caution.

“The Food and Drug Administration does not guarantee you’ll get what the package claims. But you can also up your intake by adding more collagen-rich foods into your diet,” says Friedman. Like bone broth or tough cuts of meat.

But adequate amounts of any protein will provide what your body needs to make collagen; about 25- 30 grams per meal, or the equivalent of 4 ounces.

Lifestyle can also affect your collagen supply. Things like sun exposure, smoking, excessive alcohol or sugar intake, and lack of sleep can speed up the process of losing collagen.