What Is Collagen Water? Benefits, What To Look Out For & How To Make It At Home
Whether you’re a skin care fanatic or wellness enthusiast, you've likely heard all about collagen. It's the structural protein1 that supports your connective tissues, including tendons, ligaments, and skin—the last of which relies on collagen for firmness and elasticity.* And while collagen supplements are often used to make things like smoothies and juices, there might be a new collagen beverage in town.
Enter collagen water, a simple tonic that's currently having a moment. So much so that you can now find it in stores, prepackaged and ready to go. But what is collagen water, exactly? Let's explore its benefits and side effects (plus how to make it yourself) below.
What is collagen water?
Collagen water is (surprise!) water containing collagen. You can either make it at home with collagen powder and water—or buy it in a pre-prepared bottle. Depending on the brand, bottled collagen water might also contain other beneficial ingredients (think hyaluronic acid or electrolytes), as well as fruit juice or sweetener for extra flavor.
The prepackaged drink is super trendy right now, thanks to the popularity of collagen in general. That's because collagen supplements are commonly sold as powders, which are meant to be mixed in liquid. However, "[bottled] collagen water takes away the essential step of adding the powder to a smoothie or other beverage," explains Isa Kujawski, MPH, RDN, registered dietitian and founder of Mea Nutrition.
In other words, it's already mixed and readily drinkable, making it easy to consistently consume collagen, says Kujawski. It also allows you to effortlessly take your collagen on the go. Moreover, collagen peptides are typically tasteless, says Kujawski—so collagen works well in plain liquids like H2O.
Beyond convenience, it doesn't hurt that collagen water offers…well, water. Drinking the beverage will count toward your daily water intake, which is key for overall health. As Kujawski notes, "Cells and tissues are largely made of water, with the skin being no exception."
Water is also necessary for regulating your body temperature, lubricating the joints and helping your body get rid of waste, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention2. Thus, collagen water plays double duty, as it helps you stay hydrated while getting your dose of daily collagen.
Benefits of collagen.
As we mentioned, collagen is a protein that's found in all of your connective tissues. The body can make collagen on its own, but for most people, production naturally starts to dip in their late teens or early 20s. (Other factors, like UV exposure and smoking cigarettes, can promote collagen decline even further.) This can cause the skin to sag and lose its youthful glow, notes Kujawski.
Luckily, it's possible to boost your body's natural production of collagen by eating foods like citrus fruits and nuts. You can also take collagen water or supplements to support your body's levels3, which may play a role in the following areas of health:*
- Skin. If there's anything that collagen supplements are known for, it's skin health. For example, in a scientific review of 11 studies with more than 800 participants, researchers found that supplemental collagen enhances skin hydration4 and elasticity. These benefits were also observed in a randomized clinical trial5 involving postmenopausal women, who are more likely to experience drier and thinner skin due to a natural drop in collagen production. Yet another randomized trial6 found that collagen can improve skin elasticity, which is responsible for the plumpness of skin.*
- Joints. Turns out, collagen may benefit your joints. In a randomized clinical trial, those who took a type II collagen supplement for 180 days saw better joint mobility and comfort. According to Kristian Morey, R.D., a clinical dietitian at Mercy Medical Center, this type of collagen "contains chondroitin and glucosamine, which may help build cartilage," aka the connective tissue that helps joints move fluidly.*
- Bone. In a clinical trial consisting of postmenopausal women, collagen supplements reduced bone turnover7 in postmenopausal women. Another study involving postmenopausal women found that collagen peptide supplements can improve bone formation and decrease bone breakdown8, thus supporting bone health.*
- Hair. In theory, collagen supplements may benefit the hair. This includes collagen peptides with proline, an amino acid that's found in keratin9. Collagen also offers some antioxidant properties; this may be helpful against oxidative stress, a contributor to age-related hair graying. Still, more evidence is needed to confirm the full benefits of collagen for hair health.*
- Nails. Amino acids, like those found in collagen supplements, are the building blocks of nails. So it only makes sense that ingesting amino acids via a collagen supplement can support nail health. But don't take our word for it: one 2017 study10 found that a daily collagen supplement was associated with more nail growth, less breakage, and improved nail appearance.*
- Gut support. Another area of study is collagen for gut health. Two of the amino acids in collagen include glutamine and glycine, both of which have potential benefits for the gut. Glutamine11 supports the intestinal lining, while glycine has been found to repair said lining in animal studies.*
How to make collagen water at home.
If you'd like to try collagen water, consider making it at home. Not only is it the easiest recipe you'll ever make, but it's a heck of a lot cheaper than buying it in bottles. Simply pour yourself a glass of water, stir in a scoop of collagen powder, and drink up! Done and done.
For extra flavor, add a splash of freshly squeezed orange and/or lemon juice. Another option is to add collagen powder to your favorite infused water recipe. But if that doesn't sound appealing—or if you're craving a little extra something—you can mix collagen into a refreshing smoothie.
For best results, use plenty of fruits and vegetables with vitamin C, a nutrient that will support your body's natural collagen production.* Our tropical collagen smoothie fits the bill, as it's packaged with ingredients like mango and spinach.
If you're longing for a hot drink, make a collagen golden milk or pumpkin-spiced collagen hot chocolate, both of which are wonderfully creamy and cozy. Or, if you're looking for a skin-boosting pick-me-up, whip up a collagen coffee or latte.*
Collagen is generally well tolerated. However, "for some [people], collagen supplements may promote bloating or other digestive side effects," shares Kujawski. Flavored collagen powders might also have a bad aftertaste, which is often described as bitter, tangy, or sweet.
Additionally, there's no such thing as vegan collagen, as collagen peptides come from animal sources. This includes chicken, fish, and cows. So, if you follow a vegan diet, any products containing collagen—including collagen water—will be off-limits.
As for collagen water itself, you'll want to check out how much collagen the water actually contains. The dosage will vary quite a lot between brand and format, so it's always good practice to check out how much collagen peptides are actually in the drink. This way, you can be confident that the product is actually formulated to do its intended purpose. In general we recommend looking in the 10- to 20-gram range.
We recommend avoiding collagen waters with lengthy ingredient lists (i.e., additives). And if you're looking to avoid or limit additional carbs or sugars, look out for these on the nutrition facts panel, too. On their own, high-quality collagen powders are free of sugar.
If you want to get more specific, it's helpful to look at your intended need for the supplement. Here, a breakdown based on outcome.
- Skin: Studies show that a range of 2.5 to 10 g per day can be beneficial for skin support12.*
- Muscle: Studies show that 15 to 20 g per day can help muscle mass13, muscle strength14, and soreness after exercise15.*
- Joint: 2.5 to 5 g per day has been shown to help joint support16—however, if you are taking UC-II specifically, you only need 40 mg per day17.*
- Bone: The available research suggests that 5 g per day provides bone support18.*
Collagen water is a simple drink made of collagen powder and water. You can find it in premixed, prepackaged bottles, but it's generally cheaper to make it at home. The beverage also offers a convenient way to take collagen supplements, especially if you don't have time to make a smoothie or latte. For best results, be sure to use a high-quality collagen powder by a reputable company, just as you would with any supplement.
Kirsten Nunez is a health and lifestyle journalist based in Beacon, New York. She has a Master of Science in Nutrition from Texas Woman's University and Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from SUNY Oneonta. Kirsten specializes in nutrition, fitness, food, and DIY; her work has been featured in a variety of publications, including eHow, SparkPeople, and international editions of Cosmopolitan. She also creates recipes for food product packaging.