Giving your skin the ingredients it needs can help you look and feel healthy at every age—and one of those essential ingredients is collagen.
Collagen is a protein naturally found throughout your body linked to skin hydration and elasticity. While collagen can help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, it also plays a key role in whole-body health - it’s a protein that serves as a building block to your bones, tendons, blood vessels, cartilage, and skin cells.
Many people use collagen-boosting supplements to help support and maintain healthy skin. But when should you start? There are certain times in your life when a boost in collagen may make a substantial difference.
When Is the Best Time to Start Taking Collagen?
Our bodies naturally produce and store collagen on their own, but as we grow older, our collagen stores begin to drop. Understanding the timeline of collagen production can help you determine the best time to take collagen based on your age.
Your body’s stores of natural collagen peak in your late twenties to age 30 and decrease over time from then on., By the time you reach age 40, your collagen levels reach about 70% of the original levels. They continue decreasing to about 60% at age 50, 44% at age 60, and 32% at age 70.
Based on this timeline, you might want to start boosting your body’s collagen supply as early as your twenties, but it’s never too late to start.
Note that this timeline includes average levels and doesn’t take your genetics and lifestyle choices into account. Besides age, the following factors also impact your collagen stores and can help determine when you may benefit from collagen-boosting supplements:
- Nutrition – Although you may experience certain health benefits from a vegan or vegetarian diet, it does remove animal-based collagen sources from your food. Food collagen sources are primarily meat-based, so an early start to promoting and protecting collagen production in other ways is key for vegans and those who don’t eat meat.
- Exercise – Getting plenty of exercise and staying active may help keep your natural collagen production up. A 2015 study published by Aging Cell Anatomical Study suggested that sedentary living and low muscle mass can drive signs of skin aging, including collagen loss. If regular exercise isn’t or can’t be a part of your life for any reason, collagen supplementation might be a good idea.
- Sun exposure – Chronic exposure to the sun’s UV rays can contribute to collagen breakdown. If you spend a lot of time outdoors, protecting your skin is essential to preserving your existing collagen. You may also want to start a collagen-promoting supplement sooner rather than later.
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What Time of the Day Is the Best for Taking Collagen?
Some nutrients and routines are most beneficial at the start or end of the day - however, collagen isn’t one of them. Instead, you should take a collagen supplement based on what works best for your body, lifestyle, and wellness goals.
Below are some great times to take collagen for different reasons.
You may have heard that morning is the right time to take certain supplements. This can be true for some supplements, as taking them on an empty stomach prevents your stomach acid from degrading them. But this isn’t true for collagen for two reasons.
Stomach acid doesn’t only appear when food makes its way down to your stomach. It’s more active when your stomach is empty and decreases once you eat food.
Your stomach acid doesn’t damage or break down collagen supplements. Collagen needs to be broken down into amino acids first, which then start their work building up collagen. In addition, most of this happens in your small intestine rather than your stomach.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t take your collagen supplement in the morning, however. Including a supplement in your coffee, oatmeal, or a blended smoothie can help ensure you’re starting your day with a nutritious, collagen-boosting meal.
If you find yourself reaching for an afternoon food or beverage to get you through the rest of the day, consider incorporating your collagen supplement here.
One possible benefit of taking collagen supplements in the afternoon is to help reduce midday cravings. Studies have shown that eating more proteins like collagen can help increase your feelings of fullness. Instead of reaching for less nutritious snacks, you can stir a powdered collagen supplement into Greek yogurt or a cup of tea, satiating your appetite and giving your body support at the same time.
Some health professionals recommend taking certain supplements at evening meals because they are fat soluble, and your body can absorb them better when you have eaten some fat. Collagen, on the other hand, is water-soluble, which means you don’t need to worry about taking collagen with a meal - your body will absorb them at any time of day.
You may still benefit from taking your collagen supplements at night if you want the appetite-mitigating effects mentioned above. But you can also stir it into an evening tea or glass of water without worrying about decreased effectiveness.
Choosing the Right Collagen Routine for You
Although there are different possible benefits for taking collagen at different times of day, the best time to take collagen is ultimately whatever works for your body and your routine.
If you find that your body reacts differently to collagen supplements at different times of day, you can always change your routine to something that works better for you. Our unique bodies each respond differently to new supplements, even when they’re mild, beneficial, and come with few side effects. Integrating the supplement into your daily routine until it’s just an automatic part of your day is the best way to ensure you continue to protect and grow your collagen stores.
Take the Next Steps to Incorporate Collagen Into Your Routine
At what point in life you take collagen is a personal choice. You may choose to begin taking collagen as early as your twenties or wait until your natural collagen levels start to decline a little more at menopause. Although it’s never too late to begin collagen supplementation, people with certain lifestyle habits and choices might benefit from starting sooner.
Likewise, you can integrate collagen supplements into your day whenever you prefer without it losing effectiveness. Morning, midday, and evening are all acceptable options. The right choice just depends on how your body reacts to the supplement and what routine works best for you.
Instead of taking collagen in its whole form, you may also benefit by taking supplements that boost and preserve your body’s natural collagen production through helpful nutrients and vitamins. Collagen Protect® is our vegan collagen powder alternative that helps protect and preserve your natural collagen. Just add 1 tbsp to your daily coffee or smoothie as a clean, easy way to take care of your skin.
National Center for Biotechnology Information. Oral supplementation of specific collagen peptides has beneficial effects on human skin physiology: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study (Skin pharmacology and physiology).
Plastic and Aesthetic Research. Skin collagen through the lifestages: importance for skin health and beauty.
National Center for Biotechnology Information. Collagen: A review on its sources and potential cosmetic applications (Journal of cosmetic dermatology).
Harvard School of Public Health. The Nutrition Source: Collagen.
National Center for Biotechnology Information. Estrogens and the skin (Climacteric: the journal of the International Menopause Society).
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health. Menopause basics.
National Center for Biotechnology Information. Estrogen and skin. An overview (American journal of clinical dermatology).
Wiley Online Library. Exercise-stimulated interleukin-15 is controlled by AMPK and regulates skin metabolism and aging (Aging cell).
National Center for Biotechnology Information. Natural and sun-induced aging of human skin (Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med.)
National Center for Biotechnology Information. Tobacco smoke causes premature skin aging (Journal of dermatological science).
Well and Good. The Best Time to Take Collagen Is…?
Cleveland Clinic. Collagen.