Should I Take Collagen or Hoodia Supplements?

I have long been on the anti-supplement band wagon for a couple of reasons. 1) I don’t like to be scammed and 2) There isn’t any science-based evidence to support the use of the vast, vast majority of supplements.

Over at the web site www.ScienceBasedMedicine.org there is a whole lot of debunking going on, and nobody does it better than the SMB Crew. In the past week SBM has posted stories debunking the claims that Collagen can be taken for joint pain and that Hoodia is an effective weight-loss supplement.

If you want to just skip over my “layman’s” review and click on over to SBM be my guest, as the authors of those posts provide exhaustive research to back up their conclusions. Also, they are much smarter than I am. For those of you who don’t want to do a lot of reading and sift through facts and research papers, I will give you a clear and concise summary of the SBM posts.


Collagen has been a popular supplement used in the effort to ease joint pain for those who suffer with arthritis. Genacol is an over-the-counter supplement that claims to be, “Scientifically proven to reduce joint pain.”

According to SBM author Scott Gavura, since no other product has been able to deliver this kind of result, he looked into the science used by the Genacol people to support this claim. In an unsurprising nutshell, he found no science. Like I said, if you want to read for yourself, be my guest.

But Gavura does a great job of giving us a review of the role of collagen in the human system. In case you didn’t know, collagen accounts for about 25% of our body mass and is a major ingredient of what makes up our connective tissue, and is found in skin, muscles and tendons. Having a lack of collagen is bad, but for those people who have this problem, eating collagen – which is a protein – doesn’t help.

When we ingest collagen, it gets broken down into amino acids so the body can absorb them. The bottom line is that your body doesn’t know or care if you ate collagen or any of the other sources of collagen. So there’s no reason to believe the claims that a collagen supplement will do anything for you.

The research is lackluster. Read Gavura’s piece to get a real meaty analysis of the data. The “hoodia-doesn’t-do-anything” article was written by Harriet Hall, an MD who writes about Complimentary and Alternative Medicine and all-things quackery.


A while back I wrote about hoodia, and that we shouldn’t believe the hype based on the science and the nonsensical anecdotal stories of this substance’s effectiveness. I also wrote of the problem of determining just how much – if any – hoodia is contained in a given supplement.

Hoodia seemed like a dead issue years ago, so I was surprised to see an article crop up re-reviewing the problems with this supposed weight loss supplement. Hall does a great job of dispelling the myths associated with hoodia and cuts through the nonsense used by the hoodia-hucksters. Hall’s piece is recommended reading for those of you who are unfamiliar with the problems associated with this product.

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