Many people look forward to living a long life. But it’s hard to find someone who isn’t concerned with the physical symptoms that come with aging, from wrinkles to joint pain. Wouldn’t it be great if there was some uber ingredient that touched on many of these symptoms of aging?
Turns out there is: collagen. The most abundant protein found in the body, collagen accounts for 30 percent of our total supply, and it mostly resides in connective tissues in the skin and joints such as cartilage, skin dermis, bones, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels. When we’re young (remember when?), collagen is abundant and allows us to move with ease, plus enables our skin to stretch and move without sagging or developing wrinkles. As we age, collagen production naturally slows and the overall amount depletes, which can result in undesirable wrinkles in the skin and painful stiffness in the joints.
And it’s finally caught on in the U.S. market.
“Consumers in the U.S. are finally waking up to the realization that a healthy and strong skin matrix on the inside results in that firm and youthful skin we are all after,” says Jessica Mulligan, vice president of sales and marketing at NeoCell, the market leader in CPG collagen products. “The markets for collagen and other beauty ingestibles are the most highly developed in Japan, Europe and South America. In Japan, where the belief in ‘beauty from within’ goes back centuries, consumers are collagen-crazy—Japan actually just came out with a collagen beer!”
NeoCell has been growing by double digits every quarter since 2008, and in the first quarter of 2015 sales were up by 34 percent, according to Mulligan. Part of the reason for that success has been a relentless diligence to new product formats—powders and soft-chews complement their supplement lines.
“Continuing to invest in new and innovative delivery systems is a big focus of ours,” Mulligan says. “It is also becoming increasingly important to companies to invest in the science behind their products. Consumers want to know and trust that the claims on a label have been clinically shown to do what they are purporting to do.”
Even with the unrivaled success, one of the drawbacks of collagen remains persnickety consumer impatience—they want instant results for skin health or joint pain. Mulligan says their consumer reports say nail strength is improved within two weeks, joint pain subsides in three weeks and skin becomes more lustrous in three to four weeks.
“The biggest strength of the collagen market is that once consumers try the ingredient, they don’t want to get off.”
Show me the science
Collagen research is strongest in areas of joint health, skin and nails. Collagen Types 1 and 3 are used for beauty benefits. Type II is used for joints. Collagen supplier InterHealth Nutraceuticals has a patented, undenatured, type II collagen, UC-II, with four research studies supporting joint comfort, mobility and flexibility.
In one, 55 healthy men and women had their joints stressed via a standardized stepmill protocol. Those who took 40 mg UC-II for 120 days had significantly greater knee extension compared to placebo; exercised longer before experiencing joint discomfort; and recovered faster from joint discomfort after exercising compared to baseline.
In another, among 52 subjects with osteoarthritis, 40 mg/day UC-II increased joint comfort, mobility and flexibility.
What’s interesting about the osteoarthritis group is the usual supplement standard of care is glucosamine and chondroitin. So a research study looked at both protocols head to head: among 186 subjects, one-third took 1,500 mg glucosamine + 1,200 mg chondroitin, one-third took 40 mg UC-II, and one-third took placebo. Only the collagen group experienced statistically significant improvements.
“Manufacturers want new ingredients that are clinically proven to work and that are safe,” says Paul Dijkstra, CEO of InterHealth. “Innovation allows them to differentiate their products in the marketplace and re-invigorate the entire...
This isn't the half of it. To read the rest on collagen—including more on collagen science, as well as innovations in the collagen in the collagen supply space—as well as the renowned Engredea SWOT analysis on collagen, download the free 2015-16 Ingredient Market Forecast. Fully 10 different ingredient classes are covered, including omega-3s and probiotics. Click below to have the report sent to your email when it becomes available in mid-June.