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Collagen: An ingredient for the ages

To be “beautiful inside and out” is the ultimate compliment. Imagine a supplement that performs its healthy aging functions internally as effectively it does externally, supporting both fluid movement and glowing, resilient skin. These flexible feats are among the boasts of collagen, a word derived from kolla, or “glue” in Greek.

The collagen movement began across Asia, China and Japan, according to Lauren Clardy, vice president of branded ingredients, AIDP Inc. Specifically, she noted, type I and the beauty-from-within market started to gain traction in the 1980s. “At Expo West recently, collagen launches were still front and center in food, beverages, supplements and personal care,” she reported. “We will see more incorporated into functional foods and beverages as the market matures. Compare this to 2012 when there was little to no collagen at Supply Side West. Today, it is one of the hottest ingredients trending alongside turmeric, CBD [cannabidiol] and others.”

When cartilage supplements—specifically shark cartilage—were all the rage in the late 1990s and early 2000s, it soon came to light that its power mostly came from naturally occurring collagen. Of the 28 different kinds of collagen, the primary and “most medicinal” is collagen type II. Collagen in general comes from skin, bones and cartilage from fish and common livestock (bovine, porcine and chicken).

Collagen product innovation is in full force to satisfy an excited consumer base. Oliver Wolf, head of B2B global marketing at GELITA, said sports nutrition, beauty-from-within concepts and products that support healthy aging are the most promising application fields for collagen peptides. In their natural form, he explained, collagen peptides are odorless and taste-neutral, and do not react with other ingredients, making them suitable for a wide range of different applications—from dietary supplements to functional foods and beverages. They are soluble in cold water and have “perfect” flow properties for dust-free pouring and dosing, he said. And in powder form, the peptides can be mixed with other ingredients, as “they have excellent wetting and dissolution properties when stirred into liquids, even in high concentrations.”

Tony Federico, vice president of marketing for Natural Force, added, “Consumers are looking to collagen for its anti-aging properties (improves skin moisture and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles), ability to support gut and joint health, and for its contribution to strong and healthy hair and nails.”

Heather Wilson, director of brand development and licensed esthetician for Insta Natural, agreed, noting more consumers are embracing and understanding collagen’s benefits. Beyond supporting bone and muscle health, she pointed out, consumers also know it holds great potential for beauty and skin health as well. “Other proteins, such as whey and pea protein, used to be the ‘go to’ proteins, but as soon as people realized that collagen has all these amazing benefits for skin, hair and joints, it became very popular,” she stated.

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