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Vital Proteins Review: Better Skin in a Bottle?


Article edited for scientific accuracy by Illuminate Labs Blog Editor Taylor Graber MD 

Vital Proteins is the most popular collagen brand in the U.S. and they sell a wide variety of products. Their most popular products are collagen powders but they also sell supplements and food products.

In this article we’ll review the formulation of some of Vital Proteins’ most popular products based on medical research to determine if they’re likely to be effective for improving skin, hair and nail quality.

Does Collagen Really Improve Skin Appearance?

Collagen protein has a wide variety of benefits, but most consumers take it for improvements to skin. As we age, our natural collagen production decreases which can have damaging effects on skin.

Oral collagen supplementation is proven in medical research to improve a wide variety of skin parameters, including collagen density, skin elasticity and hydration.

The dose of collagen used in medical research varies, but we recommend a dose of 10 grams (g) daily, which appears to be the maximally effective dose. A recent medical review summarized 19 trials on collagen for skin and concluded that “collagen peptides can delay and improve the signs of skin aging by decreasing facial wrinkles and improving skin hydration and elasticity.”

All of the studies except one used a dosage at or under 10 g daily, and the one study utilizing 12 g/day was on a hospitalized and bedridden population which we don’t believe is useful for basing recommendations to the general population.

It’s important to note that the effects of collagen supplementation are long-term, so we recommend making it a part of your daily routine if you do start supplementing for skin benefit. Collagen won’t cause skin improvements in a day. Most of the studies reviewed were at least 12 weeks long.

Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides Review

Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides ingredients list

Vital Proteins’ most popular product is their Collagen Peptides powder. It retails for $27 and contains 14 servings of 20 g collagen, but as we referenced above the maximally-effective collagen dose is actually 10 g, which is the dosage we recommend. This means using one scoop instead of two, which makes the product 50% cheaper, cutting the cost per day from $1.93 to $0.96.

For consumers on a budget, we believe that 5 g is also an effective dose, given that 12 of the 19 studies on collagen for skin improvements in the above-referenced paper used a dose of 5 g or less. This half-scoop serving would cut the daily cost of this product to only $0.48/day, or less than $15 per month for one of the most well-studied compounds for skin improvement.

Vital Proteins sources their collagen from grass-fed animals, which we believe is a good decision from a health context since we know from medical research that products from grass-fed animals are nutritionally superior to those from conventionally-raised animals.

Grass-fed vs. conventional collagen powders haven’t been tested as extensively as grass-fed vs. conventional meats, but we believe sticking with collagen sourced from grass-fed animals is a safe bet that can only have upsides based on the available research.

Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides also contains 80 milligrams (mg) of hyaluronic acid, which is an effective ingredient for skin aging but may be slightly underdosed. We only found one study on hyaluronic acid and skin. 

The researchers found that 120 mg/day of two different molecular weights of hyaluronic acid improved skin moisture with no side effects. This ingredient may be useful but in our opinion we need more research to definitively say so.

Overall we recommend this product and it’s the only collagen product we personally endorse and use. We only recommend the unflavored collagen powders, since (even natural) flavoring agents used in supplement formulations are essentially unregulated.

Because supplement companies are only required to categorize flavoring chemicals as “artificial flavors” or “natural flavors”, consumers (and researchers like us) can’t determine if they’re safe because we don’t know which actual chemicals are used. This is why we recommend avoiding natural and artificial flavors in supplements entirely.

We have no preference between the Collagen Peptides and Marine Collagen products; both are composed of collagen peptides but are just sourced differently. We haven’t come across any medical studies suggesting that collagen sourced from marine animals is superior to collagen sourced from land animals, so it probably makes sense to purchase the Collagen Peptides product given that it’s cheaper.

Vital Proteins Collagen Water Review

Vital Proteins Collagen Water ingredients list

Vital Proteins sells a variety of flavored Collagen Waters. It’s a huge plus that these products are flavored with small amounts of natural fruit juices like peach and lemon instead of added sugar like most sports nutrition drinks contain.

Each Vital Proteins Collagen Water contains 10 g of collagen which is an effective dose. They retail for $3/bottle.

From a strictly cost perspective, this is less efficient than mixing 10 g of the collagen powder into a water, which only costs $0.96 per serving.

We do recommend these products to consumers with disposable income or who are willing to pay more for convenience and taste, since they contain healthy ingredients and an effective dose of collagen.

Vital Proteins Beauty Collagen Review

Vital Proteins Beauty Collagen ingredients list

Vital Proteins contains a line of collagen powders marketed for beauty. The formulation is very similar to the standard Collagen Peptides product, but the hyaluronic acid is in the effective dose of 120 mg instead of 80 mg.

Beauty Collagen also contains 2 billion colony-forming units (CFU) of a patented probiotic blend called “LactoSpore”. While this probiotic has been studied in medical trials, we can’t find any research proving its benefit for skin specifically.

We don’t recommend the Beauty Collagen products currently available on their site because they all contain flavoring agents. We have seen an unflavored Beauty Collagen available in-store at Walmart, but generally we believe the standard unflavored Collagen Peptides product is a superior formulation.

Vital Proteins Collagen Creamer Review

Vital Proteins Collagen Creamer ingredients list

Vital Proteins’ creamer product is a much healthier alternative in our opinion to commercial creamers like Coffee Mate which contain added sugar, vegetable oils, artificial flavors and all sorts of questionable ingredients.

Vital Proteins offers three creamer flavors: vanilla, coconut and mocha.

We recommend the coconut flavor because it contains no flavorings. The only ingredients are: collagen peptides, organic coconut milk powder, silica and organic acacia fiber which makes for the most nutritious and non-toxic creamer we’ve come across.

Some reviewers have noted issues with the product dissolving, so you may want to try a smaller dose than recommended.

Quick Takes on Other Popular Vital Proteins Products

Vital Proteins Matcha Collagen - Safe & effective formulation, no flavorings. Green tea has been proven to have some additional skin benefits like photoprotection. 

Vital Proteins Bone Broth Collagen - This broth is sourced from pastured animals. Bone broth is known to be a nutrient-dense food, but probably doesn’t taste good as a powder (and some reviewers have mentioned the same). A good option from a health context but perhaps not the most cost-effective or tasteful way to get your daily collagen.

Does Collagen Have Side Effects?

Collagen is a very safe food product; it’s just a type of protein.

A thorough medical review found collagen supplementation to be “generally safe with no reported adverse events”.

Conclusion

We believe that Vital Proteins makes quality collagen products and we recommend several of their formulations. Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides is probably the most cost-effective and simplest daily solution, but consumers with more disposable income may want to consider more exotic formulations like Matcha and Bone Broth collagen which may confer some additional health and skin benefits.

Vital Proteins is the only collagen brand we recommend thus far, as they offer unflavored collagen with no harmful ingredients, and source from grass-fed animals.




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