The search for substances and components that help us improve certain problems related to advancing age is a classic in our environment. This is normal, since aging is associated some unpleasant events, such as joint and muscle degeneration and ultimately a loss of cognitive function and general functionality of the human body. Among the most popular substances are collagen powders. That, like so many other things, they are absolutely useless of what they promise you. And even less to be eternally young.
Collagen powder dietary supplements have been postulated in recent years as one of the fetish cures to fight against any type of problem related to the joints. And not only that, but they promise to help us improve skin hydration and elasticity, as well as hair health, nail strength, and also the health of our bones and muscles.
Does it make sense to consume collagen powder supplements for this purpose? And, first of all: what is collagen and what is it for?
What is collagen and what is its function?
Collagen continues to be another protein that makes up the human body. It is available by performing its structural function in nails, teeth, hair and also our skin. Moreover, collagen is the main component of connective tissues that make up various parts of the body, such as ligaments, muscles or tendons.
Precisely, these elements are what constitute our joints. Therefore, the belief has been easily established that if we consume collagen externally, it helps to improve the condition of our joints. However, nutrition does not work that way to our misfortune.
“From what you eat, you grow”, goes a well-known popular saying. But it will be no: there is no scientific evidence to support this fragment of popular Spanish heritage. There is no guarantee that by consuming collagen these components will end up directly in the joints we want to protect. Digestion does not provide such reliability or accuracy. When a protein is digested, it is broken down into its smallest components: amino acids. AND
These are assimilated by the body and, subsequently, will be used to generate new proteins with structural, hormonal or nutrient transport functions. But not as we please, far from it.
Whether it’s collagen powder, pills, or a drink, we’re dealing with the same thing: a supplement that doesn’t do what it promises. However, the brands selling collagen supplements have been sneaking good doses of hot marketing. Sometimes they allude to the benefits to our skin associated with maintaining bone health and skin hydration. How is it possible? The answer lies in EU nutrition and health legislation
Why Collagen Supplements Don’t Work
There is a record of health claims or Health claims approved by the European Commission. In this list there is a series of nutrients that have approved certain claims that can be used in labeling to refer to health benefits. For example, calcium has an approved health claim: “Calcium is needed for normal growth and development of bones in children. To have approved health claims, a compound must have been largely contradicted by scientific evidence. There are processes by which companies can apply for approval of a health claim for their food or product, but most are rejected. Although the usefulness of this system may be questionable, so far so good.
The problem now comes: does collagen have any legally approved health claims? It will be no. The EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) has rejected the health claims attributed to collagen, concluding that for the moment there is no conclusive evidence that prove the benefits of collagen as a protective ingredient for our cartilage: “No causal relationship has been established between the consumption of collagen peptide blends (collagen hydrolyzate) and the maintenance of joint health.”
These are legal loopholes
So, what black magic can boast of the benefits of certain collagen food supplements for our joints? As always, thanks to loopholes and legal pitfalls. If the supplement in question adds other micronutrients that have approved bone, muscle, or joint health claims, then the company will get away with it.
And it is so since some vitamins and minerals have health claims validated by the EFSA. Those that are commonly added in dietary supplements based on collagen are magnesium and vitamin C. Magnesium, for example, has several Health claims approved as follows:
- Contributes to the reduction of fatigue and exhaustion.
- Helps normal muscle function and protein synthesis.
- Magnesium contributes to the maintenance of bones in normal conditions, as well as teeth.
Vitamin C is a micronutrient that we easily obtain in our diet through fruits and vegetables. In addition, it is involved in many metabolic processes, which is why it also has several health claims approved by legislation at European level. to no one’s surprisesome of them are closely related to collagen:
- Contributes to the normal formation of collagen for the normal functioning of blood vessels, bones, cartilage, gums, skin and teeth.
- It influences the normal functioning of the nervous and immune systems.
- Vitamin C contributes to the protection of cells against oxidative stress.
What does all this mean, translated into simpler language? Well, collagen is not the one that improves the health of our joints, but vitamin C. Did you know that in 100 grams of red pepper there are up to 150 mg of vitamin C? Triple that in the same amount of orange, by the way. That is to say, we have more than covered and at our disposal several sources of vitamin C in commonly consumed foods, so we do not need to resort to supplements for this purpose. Moreover, and as we mentioned before, collagen supplements have not yet shown their effectiveness in protecting our joints.
Collagen supplements only do one thing: throw away our money.