What is collagen?

Collagen refers to proteins that are crucial components of skin, connective tissue, bones, ligaments, cartilage, muscles, hair, and nails.  The collagen protein is intertwined like a rope, giving it the strength and flexibility to be part of numerous structures in our body.

Why is collagen part of my treatment plan?

Your genetics identified a change in the Col1A1 gene, which regulates the production of collagen.  Your body does not produce as much collagen as usual, which can directly impact the health of your skin and hair.  Oral collagen supplementation improves collagen end products in the body.1,2 One clinical study showed a supplement containing collagen improved hair growth, hair quality, hair volume, and thickness.3  Collagen peptides were found to have a positive effect on hair thickness.4  Another with collagen supplementation showed collagen might improve skin hydration, elasticity, and overall appearance.5

What are the food sources of collagen?

Animal proteins like chicken, fish, beef are high in collagen.  Bone broth is also a great source of collagen.  Plant-based sources can improve collagen production by providing essential cofactors like vitamin C and vitamin A.  These include berries, garlic, leafy greens, tomatoes, citrus fruits, brussel sprouts, carrots, and sweet potatoes.

How do deficiencies in collagen occur?

Collagen levels decline as we age.  Malnourishment, specifically a protein deficit, can cause collagen deficiencies as well.  There are several diseases associated with genes that are involved with collagen production and metabolism.  Smoking, UV damage to the skin, stress, and excess sugar can also lower collagen levels.5 

What are the symptoms of collagen deficiency?

Collagen deficiencies are associated with joint pains, decreased joint mobility, impaired skin integrity, dry skin, brittle nails, and wrinkled skin.

What does collagen do in the body?

Collagen maintains the skin’s structure and supports water retention, firm, smooth, and strong skin.  Proline is a major component of collagen and also keratin.  Keratin makes up approximately 95% of our hair.  The middle layer of our skin is called the dermis.  This layer holds our hair roots in place and is 70% collagen.  During the growth phase of hair, collagen levels surround the hair follicle and thicken, which supports hair follicles entering and maintaining the anagen phase.6

Does collagen have any adverse effects?

Oral administration of collagen is well tolerated.  One clinical trial reported stomach upset/dyspepsia and a lingering aftertaste in some people taking collagen.7


  1. McAlindon TE, Nuite M, Krishnan N, Ruthazer R, et al. Changes in knee osteoarthritis cartilage detected by delayed gadolinium enhanced magnetic resonance imaging following treatment with collagen hydrolysate: a pilot randomized controlled trial. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage 19 (2011) 399e405. 
  2. Schunk M and Oesser S. Specific collagen peptides benefit the biosynthesis of matrix molecules of tendons and ligaments. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2013; 10.
  3. Ablon G, Kogan S. A Six-Month, Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study Evaluating the Safety and Efficacy of a Nutraceutical Supplement for Promoting Hair Growth in Women With Self-Perceived Thinning Hair. J Drugs Dermatol. 2018;17(5):558-565.
  4. Oesser, Steffen. "The oral intake of specific Bioactive Collagen Peptides has a positive effect on hair thickness." International Journal on Nutraceuticals, Functional Foods and Novel Foods (2020).
  5. Bolke L, Schlippe G, Gerß J, Voss W. A Collagen Supplement Improves Skin Hydration, Elasticity, Roughness, and Density: Results of a Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Blind Study. Nutrients. 2019;11(10):2494. Published 2019 Oct 17. doi:10.3390/nu11102494
  6. Chen P, Cescon M, Bonaldo P. Lack of Collagen VI Promotes Wound-Induced Hair Growth. J Invest Dermatol. 2015;135(10):2358-2367. doi:10.1038/jid.2015.187
  7. Stancík R, Zvarka J, Hlavác M, Kubinec V, Rovenský J. Collagen type I in the treatment of painful osteoarthritis of the knee. Reumatologia. 2012;50(5):390-6.