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Of all the weird, useless things I've tried in the name of beauty, edible collagen might rank at the top of the list. Lately I've been hearing a lot of noise about how ingesting collagen will do wonders for your hair and skin. I'm intrigued but I'm also a science-minded gal who's smart enough to know that taking supplements is a great way to literally throw money down the toilet. 

Collagen supplements are said to boost the actual collagen in your skin, making it firm, plump and youthful-looking and reducing the signs of aging, as well as strengthening hair and nails. Collagen makes our skin more elastic, so when it starts to decrease as we age the skin becomes looser, hence wrinkles. A topical treatment like a retinoid can boost collagen production, and the advocates of edible collagen say it does the same. I'm doubtful. I can't find any science-backed studies that back up their claims, just the products saying "studies have shown!"

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Things you fall for at the pharmacy.

Image: via Walgreens

Again, I have a pretty healthy skepticism of supplements in general. I also know how digestion works—collagen is a protein that will break down in the body the same way any other protein source will break down. Plus, the average non-vegetarian already consumes collagen regularly in the form of beef, pork and poultry. I'm not entirely sure our bodies can differentiate between protein from collagen and protein from chicken. 

But I'm also a woman in her mid-thirties and I'm getting to the point where every new wrinkle scares me. So I did it: I picked up some collagen gummies from the pharmacy. I figure if I'm taking a supplement, at least it resembles candy. Other options for edible collagen include pills and liquids. If you're really hardcore, you can make your own bone broth. It's said that the collagen in bones is the good stuff and surely it tastes better than what's in your local pharmacy.

I've been taking one 500 mg collagen gummy per day for two weeks. They are not particularly tasty, and truthfully I haven't noticed any difference in my skin thus far. Some studies say that women notice brighter skin and fewer visible wrinkles after about six months. Though experts generally say edible collagen has no real benefits, they also say it won't do any harm. And hey, If I keep this up (and it somehow works), I may never actually get old. 

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