Collagen supplements have been on the market for quite some time, gaining popularity for their promises of healthy hair, skin and nails. The pills, powders and topical products that have gained traction in recent years have done so through pretty packaging and promotion by celebrities like Kourtney Kardashian. What these supplements lack, however, is scientific evidence that they actually work in the ways that consumers hope, according to a number of experts. And it’s no different with Khloé Kardashian’s latest promotion of Dose & Co.
The 31-year-old announced on Tuesday that she is the global spokesperson and brand partner of the premium collagen blends founded in New Zealand, writing on Instagram that the supplements have become “such an important part of my daily routine!” And while she teased that she would be speaking further about the benefits of taking the powders, dermatologist Dr. Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital, warns Yahoo Life to be skeptical of the promotion.
“Ingestible collagen has been used for years but has become much more popular recently. This is likely because of the trend in using natural skin care products. The idea behind it is that it can help enhance your skin’s natural collagen production to improve texture and minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles,” he says. “Before falling into the trap of buying bad beauty products with good advertising, make sure you touch base with your dermatologist for expert advice on what’s best for your skin needs.”
Testing the waters of collagen supplements makes sense for Kourtney, the eldest of the Kardashian sisters, who is outspoken about the importance of all-natural and clean beauty products. Still, her brand Poosh’s collaboration with Vital Proteins and her testimonial of glowing skin, healthy hair, strong nails and quicker recovery of her bones and joints might be a stretch. Now, days after she announced the launch of Dose & Co., Khloé is boasting about her own experience with the supplements in a piece for Elle.
“I really wanted to fix myself from the inside out. Someone told me about doing collagen powders once I was done being pregnant,” Kardashian told the publication. “Dose & Co. has such pure, impressive ingredients. The amount of collagen grams was totally different than some of the others on the market.”
Although Kardashian’s words seem impressive, New York-based dietician Marissa Meshulam tells Yahoo Life that “collagen may not be as magical as some say,” asserting that no one product can fix everything.
“In simple terms, collagen is a protein,” Meshulam explains. “It is built of chains of amino acids and is a major structural component of connective tissues in our bodies — think skin, muscles, tendons, etc. Collagen peptides are components of broken-down collagen molecules, which, in theory, makes the collagen more bioavailable and easier for our bodies to digest. While some research shows it may benefit your hair, skin, nails and gut, the truth is we really don’t know.”
And while Kardashian speaks to educating people on the specific benefits of the collagen within these blends, according to a Dose & Co. press release, Meshulam explains that there’s no way of knowing if the body is actually building collagen. In fact, the body can’t even tell it apart from other proteins.
“Because we cannot absorb longer-chained molecules like collagen or collagen peptides, our body breaks them down into amino acids that we can absorb,” she explains. “Once absorbed, we use the amino acids as building blocks to synthesize protein throughout the body, including collagen. However, from a dietary perspective, the body does not care if you ingested collagen or any other protein source— all protein sources are indistinguishable by the time we absorb them. The body does not treat amino acids from collagen differently from any other protein source.”
Zeichner adds that with collagen blends in particular, it “may be difficult to determine which ingredient or combination of ingredients is leading to improvements in the skin,” although there are “theories that these collagen breakdown products serve as a signal to tell your skin cells to rev up new collagen production.”
The promotion of these products is nothing new for the Kardashian sisters, who are known for marketing a number of controversial products with claims that various waist trainers and diet teas are the magic behind their hourglass figures. Most important to experts, however, is ensuring that the products are safe.
Dose & Co. did not immediately respond to Yahoo Life’s request for comment. However, Meshulam says, “there is nothing inherently wrong with these new products.” Still, she, along with Zeichner and medical toxicologist Ryan Marino, urge individuals to seek expert advice and do proper research into any and all supplements that “are most often a racket, if not a total scam,” Marino tells Yahoo Life.
“Not all ingestible collagen is created equal,” Zeichner says. “If something seems too good to be true, it likely is.”
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