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Collagen is everywhere right now, from the vitamin aisle of your local grocery store to the skincare products sitting in your bathroom. It’s one of the hottest supplements you can take right now – and collagen isn’t slowing down any time soon. In 2020 alone, consumers spent $293 million on collagen supplements alone. And now, there’s a new way to take it: in your water.
That’s right, collagen water is a thing. But does it actually do anything for your skin, joints, hair, or nutrition? Before you jump on the bandwagon and try this beverage, here’s what you need to know.
What is Collagen Water?
Collagen water is as simple as it sounds: It’s water with collagen added in. It’s pretty similar to other supplement-infused drinks, like mushroom coffee blends and protein-enriched beverages. However, the formulas are usually pretty simple, with little added in beyond collagen, water, and a little flavoring, if you’re opting for a flavored variety.
So, how does collagen get into water? These beverages typically contain collagen peptides, which the Cleveland Clinic defines as a small and easily digestible form of collagen. Also known as hydrolyzed collagen, these peptides are composed of shorter chains of amino acids.
There are two types you can drink: homemade or store-bought. Mixing collagen powder with water is a simple DIY solution. Store-bought collagen water can have other ingredients or additives, but they’re still usually pretty stripped-down in terms of what’s included.
How Does Collagen Water Compare to Supplement Powders, Gummies, and Tablets?
Collagen water certainly isn’t the first form of the nutrient. In addition to all of the common supplement varieties – like pills, powders, and gummies – collagen is found in some foods and made naturally by the body. Each one of these options presents collagen in a slightly different format, and that means each can be utilized by the body in different ways.
While pills and skincare products applied externally don’t usually deliver enough collagen to make much of an impact, other products can be beneficial. And collagen water is among them. Collagen powders mixed into smoothies or even a cup of water can deliver an impactful dose; a 2020 study suggests that these supplements may offer some wellness benefits. And collagen water, whether homemade or packaged, may be similar in its effectiveness.
Are There Benefits to Collagen Water?
Like all supplements, there can be potential benefits gained from taking collagen water. While food is always the best source of nutrients (and that includes collagen!), you may be able to utilize some of the collagen taken in from these packaged or DIY drinks.
Currently, there’s still a lot that isn’t known about collagen supplements. Scientific evidence around how well these supplements work and how the body handles or uses newer varieties, like collagen water, is light. But a few studies on oral collagen supplements suggest a few potential perks. For example, a 2020 study found that supplementing collagen via orally-taken collagen peptides helped reduce skin vulnerability and prevent skin tears in older adults. Those peptide-based supplements also helped generate significant increases in skin hydration and elasticity.
Beyond these skin-based benefits, a 2019 meta-analysis also suggests that collagen supplements may improve osteoarthritis and make a significant impact on symptoms like joint stiffness.
Are There Any Drawbacks to Collagen Water?
Just as there’s limited research on the pros of collagen supplements and alternatives like collagen water, there’s also little evidence of any drawbacks. However, it’s worth noting that a 2022 review states that many of the popular claims that suggest benefits of supplementing collagen are exaggerated beyond what current scientific evidence suggests.
As Elizabeth Shaw, MS, RDN, CPT and founder of ShawSimpleSwaps.com, says, “Collagen is among one of the many trendy supplements that has gained momentum over the years and to no surprise manufacturers are now putting it in something as basic as water (with a hefty price tag to go with it!) While the jury is still out on the full benefits of collagen supplementation be it in pill, drink, or powdered form, the good news is there’s little harm if you want to give it a try for yourself.”
When you’re choosing a collagen water product, you just want to be careful about what, exactly, you’re drinking. “What’s most important is to avoid getting pulled in by the marketing and instead make a choice based on your personal needs,” Shaw explains. “If getting protein in the morning is hard for you, supplementing with a collagen water that has 10 grams of protein alongside your morning piece of fruit may be worthwhile for you. Be mindful of how your own body responds, and if you notice any discomfort discontinue use and consult your physician.”
So, if you’re wondering whether there’s any potential harm to be done, there’s likely little to none. The best idea? If you’re opting for a store-bought beverage, try to choose one that features a simplified ingredients list and doesn’t include a whole lot of sugar or added sugars.