Regular question at the pharmacy: Collagen

So, during the last weeks I have gotten a lot of questions about collagen. I do not know if it is the advertising in general or the doctors’ recommendations or a combination of the two, but it has gotten quite interesting. Many advertisements recommend the intake of collagen orally through capsules or powder. Let us have a look at collagen’s chemical structure for a quick moment:

 

collagen

 

It is a huge protein molecule that would never cross the barriers of the intestine. The only way this molecule could be absorbed is if it injected directly to the blood stream, or else the body’s own molecules will just break it down. So I would never recommend to use collagen in capsules or powder form, it is just a waste of money.

Hyaluronic acid – is it really that miraculous?

Constantly we are reminded in different advertisements of hyaluronic acid and how great and skin improving it is. This compound is said to penetrate the skin deeply, keeping the natural moist in the skin at place while refining the skin and remove wrinkles. Anyway, is all of it true?

 

If you look at hyaluronic acid’s structural chemistry in the picture below, you will observe that it’s a highly polar molecule, with a lot of OH-groups and acid-groups, that can deprotonate in water. Therefore, you have an extremely water-soluble substance. The skin, on the other hand, is mostly hydrophobic (water-insoluble).

 

hyaluronic_acid

 

Regarding the above information, hyaluronic acid will not pass through the lipid layers in the skin. On the other hand, it will remain on the surface of the skin, not being able to penetrate the skin layers below.

In conclusion, I think that hyaluronic acid is very overrated. We need something better and more efficient. Isn’t that right?