Collagen is a protein made up of amino acids. It is produced in the bodies of humans and animals. Collagen is the substance that holds most body parts together, including skin, muscles, bones, tendons, and organs. Several forms of commercially-produced liquid collagen are found in beauty products and nutritional supplements.
Supplements can be taken orally, put directly on skin, or injected under the skin. A common use of this liquid is reversing skin damage, like wrinkles. As people age, less collagen is produced in the body, and existing collagen breaks down. Collagen is also destroyed by sun damage.
Collagen-deprived skin can become dry and wrinkled. A collagen supplement may help firm skin, increase elasticity, and reduce the appearance of fine lines wrinkles. Collagen injections can plump up the skin to reduce the appearance of deep wrinkles. This effect is temporary and the user must continue regular injections to maintain results.
Liquid collagen protein may help promote fat loss by helping the body maintain lean muscle mass. Lean muscle burns energy, so there is less fuel left over in the body that can be stored as fat. Since collagen creates a cushion between muscles, bones, and tendons, supplements may help maintain overall joint health as well. As a result, liquid collagen has been known as a bodybuilding supplement that promotes muscle growth and joint support.
Hair and nails also naturally contain large amounts of collagen. Collagen supplements can help strengthen and grow hair and nails. Topical creams formulated specifically for hands and nails are also widely available.
Most commercially available supplements are in the form of liquid hydrolyzed collagen. Hydrolyzed means that the protein has been predigested. In other words, the component proteins have been partially broken down by enzymes to help ensure absorption in the body. Higher absorption rates generally lead to better performance of liquid collagen.
Supplement side effects can include allergic reactions or stomach sensitivity to liquid collagen taken orally. Collagen creams and injections may cause temporary redness or swelling. More severe reactions can also occur.
In the United States, liquid collagen is not a controlled substance and is not subject to approval or regulation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As a result, makers of this supplement cannot claim that it cures or prevents any disease. General health and beauty claims made by suppliers must still be based in fact. These claims are not always confirmed through extensive research or clinical trials.