Finding a collagen supplement that works for your needs is no small feat. Just consider how much thought and how many variables go into finding an optimal formula: What's the sourcing? What are the excipients, if any? How much collagen is actually in each serving? Does the formula contain any additional actives to support the collagen peptides themselves once consumed? A laundry list, indeed. (If you want more information on how to look for collagen supplements, and what are some good options to start with—check out our guide to our favorite collagen supplements.)
On that last query, one additional nutrient your body needs in order to properly produce collagen is vitamin C.* And not only are many American diets lacking—most collagen supplement formulas are too.
Why experts want you to look for vitamin C in your collagen supplement.
A thoughtfully made collagen supplement should contain vitamin C, a classic antioxidant that is a vital part of the collagen production process.* "Vitamin C is a key cofactor in the synthesis of collagen and elastin, [which helps] give your skin that plump and youthful appearance,"* says Keira Barr, M.D., dual board-certified dermatologist. See, your body cannot effectively produce collagen without the antioxidant1.* Vitamin C is actually able to promote fibroblast production2, tend to collagen DNA, and regulate collagen synthesis3, or the pathway in which collagen is made.*
We'd also be remiss not to mention that the vitamin not only helps with collagen production but supports the protein after the fact, too: Vitamin C stabilizes the collagen you already have, thanks to its antioxidant properties that can help neutralize free radicals.*
And unfortunately, many Americans aren't getting the recommended amount of this essential water-soluble micronutrient for optimal skin health.* See, your body cannot make the nutrient on its own. Therefore, it must be ingested daily. While true deficiency is quite rare (as you can get vitamin C from a bunch of foods, including leafy greens and citrus), many people fall short of that gold standard.
"The reality is that we have a nation walking around with widespread nutrient inadequacies. This is a fact rooted in data4, and meanwhile, there's a simple solution," says mbg's director of scientific affairs and in-house nutritionist, Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN, on the mindbodygreen podcast. "It turns out, 35% of U.S. adults4 are not eating the recommended amount of vitamin C. That's over a hundred million Americans." This is why many experts encourage you to find a collagen powder that contains vitamin C already in the blend, helping you reach the daily dosage and fill that common gap.
The best beauty supplements are those that work with your body to achieve optimal skin and hair benefits. And one way that you can improve your body's collagen production is to support it with adequate amounts of vitamin C.*
Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.