At What Age Should You Start Taking Collagen Supplements? We Asked Dr K

Taking collagen has become a game-changer for so many people. This structural protein, after all, literally holds us together as the main structural component of our skin. But as we get older, our levels of collagen will inevitably decline. So how does it decline and at what age should we start to consider taking an additional supplement?

Factors That Deplete Collagen Levels

Before we deep dive into what age we should consider supplementing with collagen, it’s important to acknowledge lifestyle factors that could be speeding up your body’s depletion of collagen. Addressing these factors, could significantly slow the depletion quite substantially. Saving you worry and money (because let’s face it, collagen isn’t the cheapest option out there).

  1. UV Damage. In terms of collagen degradation, sun exposure is one of the worst offenders. There’s a really strong link between increased UV exposure causing quite significant decrease in collagen structure afterwards. Remember your sunscreen.
  2. Smoking. Look, we’re not naïve to the notion that smoking is bad for our health on so many levels. Smoking is associated with less collagen in our arterial walls (the blood vessels that deliver oxygen from our heart to the rest of our body) which contributes to the increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
  3. Stress. Less collagen is produced in chronic stress states because of the way that cortisol degrades collagen processes. It’s also commonly known that stress sparks inflammation; which over a long period of time, we know inflammation is the enemy of any tissue.
  4. Genetics. Genes play a large part in the way our body produces collagen or the structure of collagen that then affects how it functions. For example, a gene variant on the COL1A1 gene which helps to produce Type 1 collagen, can cause skin to age faster. The unfortunate thing about genes is that we can’t change them, but we can address diet and lifestyle factors to help mitigate these genetic variations.

When should you start to take a collagen supplement?

When it comes to collagen supplements, there isn’t a “right” age to start taking them, mostly based on the factors above and so many other things. There also isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. With that said, a major aspect to consider when deciding the best time to begin is the understanding that collagen levels naturally decline with age and are strongly associated with calcium decline and estrogen deficiency. Both calcium and estrogen decline quite significantly after menopause. We also know that calcium starts to decline, generally in our 20’s and continues to decrease about 1% each year. So if you’re considering a calcium supplement, it may be time for a collagen supplement too. It’s not a bad idea to start thinking about supporting your body’s collagen levels early on, before they dip too low.

The Bottom Line

Let’s face it: Ageing is a normal part of life. So instead of trying to stop the aging process, why not look for ways to promote healthy aging? If there’s one thing you take away, make it this: Collagen supplementation works best as a preventative measure. This means it’s most effective before the onset (or progression) of skin or bone issues. So if you’re ready to get serious about your bone and skin health, it’s certainly worth thinking about collagen supplementation. 

  • Marie Ravele
    Posted at 12:32h, 28 August Reply

    I love taking collagen powders especially the one with berries, now there are one with citrus.. Please assist which one amongst the two that is good.

    • Dr Kerry Haarhoff
      Posted at 16:32h, 30 August Reply

      In all honesty, the difference is going to be very minimal and will come down to your personal preference. The reason for pairing with berries/ citrus fruits is because of their vitamin C content.

  • Alan Drabbe
    Posted at 11:43h, 30 September Reply

    Is is best to take the collagen in the morning or evening?

    • Dr Kerry Haarhoff
      Posted at 08:48h, 06 July Reply

      Thanks for your question Alan. It really depends on the reason you’re taking the collagen. If you’re taking it for gut health, mornings are better, but if taking for sleep, consuming in the evenings are better.

  • Cheryl Dale Rabetche
    Posted at 17:06h, 27 August Reply

    Can you take collagen if you have cancer?

    • Chevaun Roux
      Posted at 17:40h, 30 August Reply

      Hi Cheryl. Any supplements you would like to take while you are ill you should confirm with your Doctor first.

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