The GP and aesthetics doctor Dr Johanna Ward knows everything there is to know about collagen – and it turns out its benefits extend far beyond merely plumping your skin. Her new book guides us through this often-confusing world. We take a peek

Partnership with Dr Johanna Ward

Collagen supplements are the thing that us Get The Gloss staffers are asked about the most. How do they work? Do I need one? Which one should I choose? How much should I pay? Marine, bovine or vegan? And on it goes. It’s such a huge, fast-growing market, rife with marketing waffle, and as is the case with all supplements, it is an unregulated minefield. So, it’s no wonder that we all have questions. A lot of questions.

But this is where Dr Johanna Ward and her new book Collagen: Not Just A Beauty Molecule (£14.99), comes in.

Known as the ‘collagen queen’, Dr Johanna is the one of UK’s leading experts on collagen and a trusted GP and aesthetics doctor to boot. There’s nothing she doesn’t know about how to protect and replenish your collagen levels, both through lifestyle and supplementation. Her own range of collagen supplements Zenii London has a legion of fans - including, it's rumoured, global royalty.

Starting with a deep dive into how collagen actually works, the book gives you an expert-guided tour through the latest science, translating potentially overwhelming data into a simple guide to supercharging your body’s collagen.

Taking a collagen supplement isn’t just about getting great skin

This is not just a book about looking younger. Yes, it covers collagen’s skin elasticity-boosting and wrinkle-fighting powers, but it also has dedicated sections on its role in gut health and even as a secret weapon for exercise recovery too. “I think the penny is starting to drop. Collagen isn’t just about looking pretty and reducing wrinkles, it’s about full body health and vitality,” says Dr Johanna.

At times, the book feels like a call-to-arms, inspiring you to fight against society’s preconceptions around ageing. “Old age is essentially a collagen deficiency state,” Dr Johanna says. “But do we need to let all our collagen go? Absolutely not. We don’t have to accept joint pain, bone thinning and skin sagging.”

It is a treasure trove of options to help us both top up and protect our collagen levels in the first place. These include delicious ways to incorporate extra collagen into your everyday meals and how not to get the wool pulled over your eyes by supplement marketing.

As Dr Johanna puts it: “If you want to be firing on all cylinders and feeling great well into your seventies, eighties and nineties then this is your call to action.”

The digested read

Here are three things we learned from the book.

1. Ready for the great collagen bake off? You can enjoy collagen supplements hot or cold

Unlike many foods that are known to lose their nutritional value when heated up, this isn’t the case for collagen. “You can use your collagen supplement in your tea and coffee, no problem!” says Dr Johanna. “Heck, you can even bake with it and put it in the oven, and it won’t lose its efficacy.” Collagen muffin, anyone?

2. When it comes to vegan collagen, it's complicated

Vegan collagen is one of the buzziest supplement categories right now; after all non-meat-eaters can struggle to get the collagen-forming amino acids they need from their food. However, whether vegan collagen works - that’s a grey area. There are some exciting lab-based collagens emerging, says Dr Johanna, but more research needs to be done on how we can best use them.

3.  You can’t just eat more protein to boost your collagen levels

You might think that being an avid meat-eater would protect you from collagen depletion but unfortunately that’s not true. “The meats we eat nowadays tends to be clean muscle meats - like chicken thigh or fillet steak. These don’t have the same amino acid profile as collagen,” warns Dr Johanna. That means you still need to focus on protecting and supplementing your collagen from elsewhere.