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Collagen Supplement Not Working? 3 Sneaky Culprits Getting In The Way

Author:

Jamie Schneider

July 11, 2024

Former Senior Beauty & Lifestyle Editor

By Jamie Schneider

Former Senior Beauty & Lifestyle Editor

Jamie Schneider is the former Senior Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.

Image by Valentina Barreto Valentina Barreto / Stocksy

July 11, 2024

Ah, collagen. There’s a reason it has become one of the buzziest beauty terms in the zeitgeist: It’s responsible for keeping your skin firm, smooth, and taut (among many other health benefits, but that’s its main focus in skin care).

Taking it orally can help promote your natural collagen and elastin production1, which is why collagen supplements have skyrocketed in popularity as of late. 

Now, these supplements do not work their magic instantly—many take at least a few weeks for those visible results (plump, bouncy skin) to make their appearance.

But if you’ve been taking collagen for ages and still don’t notice anything special? Well, you might be dealing with one of the sneaky culprits below: 

You don’t have a big enough dose

Here’s the unfortunate truth: Many collagen supplements “fairy dust” their ingredients. Meaning, they may advertise collagen as their hero ingredient, yet the actual collagen dosage isn’t enough to show visible results. 

Now, the exact dosage may differ depending on the result you’re looking for. Read: Those yearning for smoother, firmer skin may want a different dose than someone looking for joint support. Here, we’ll quickly break down the dosage by health area: 

Skin: Studies show that a range of 2.5 to 10 grams per day can be beneficial for skin support2.Muscle: Studies show that 15 to 20 grams per day can help muscle mass3, muscle strength4, and soreness after exercise5Joint: 2.5 to 5 grams per day has been shown to help joint support6—however, if you are taking UC-II specifically, you only need 40 milligrams per day7.Bone: The available research suggests that 5 grams per day provides bone support8

Based on the available research, we generally recommend 15 to 20 grams of collagen a day to get the most benefits.

So check your labels—if your collagen has a smaller dose, you might want to reconsider your go-to formula. Here, you can find a list of our favorite (and effective) blends, all recommended by a nutrition Ph.D. 

2.

There’s no vitamin C

Another fun fact? Your body cannot effectively produce collagen without9 vitamin C. See, the classic antioxidant is actually able to promote fibroblast production10, tend to damaged collagen DNA, and regulate collagen synthesis11, or the pathway in which collagen is made. 

Not to mention, vitamin C has the ability to neutralize free radical damage, which helps stabilize the collagen you already have.

That’s exactly why a high-quality collagen supplement will also chuck vitamin C into the mix; if it doesn’t, you might not see the glowy, skin-plumping results you crave.

If you already swear by a stand-alone vitamin C supplement, that’s totally fine. Just make sure you get your C in one way or another—your body cannot make vitamin C on its own, so it must be ingested. 

3.

You’re not taking it daily 

Collagen will work its best only if you actually take it every single day. It doesn’t matter when you take it—morning, midday, or night—so long as you make it part of your daily routine. As with all supplements, consistency is key, so take your collagen whenever it works best for your schedule.

We get it—those schedules get hectic! If you do skip a day or two, you don’t have to sound the alarm. But if you only take collagen periodically, just know that you likely won’t see results. See, the research supporting collagen’s benefits12 focused on daily supplementation. Not once a week, not every other day. Daily! 

In fact, many people who claim collagen doesn’t work often don’t commit to an everyday ritual—but you can’t expect it to perform miracles without some consistent effort.

The takeaway

Collagen is beloved for promoting smooth, firm skin, but it takes time, patience, and a solid effort to see results (and make sure they stick around).

If you’ve been taking collagen for a while and don’t notice any changes, make sure these sneaky factors above aren’t sabotaging your progress. And remember: Consistency is always key!

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