Collagen is vital for skin suppleness, joint health, and healthy hair.
Formerly the preserve of cosmetic surgeons, it’s become the most talked about component of skin care. Some of the most famous people in the world swear by it too as a means to preserve their youthful appearance and physical vitality into old age. In fact, many celebrities take collagen supplements as part of their regular anti-aging regimen. Whether its added to smoothies for the optimal hydration of joints post-workouts, or applied topically for rejuvenated, radiant skin, collagen is fast becoming a ‘fountain of youth’ caliber of ingredient.
But collagen supplements are not just part of a passing trend. Collagen diminishes with age, making it a crucial supplement to maintain a youthful appearance. So what exactly is collagen, and how does it help with skin care and other areas of wellness?
Note: Although corroborated with medical sources, this guide is not medical advice. As with many supplements, always consult with your doctor to ascertain whether a product is right for you.
What Is Collagen?
According to Healthline, collagen is the animal kingdom’s most common structural protein. Collagen is abundant in the body’s connective tissues, cartilage, tendons, bones, and skin. Tissues rely on it for stability, and it also plays crucial functions in cellular activities such as cell migration, immunity, and tissue regeneration.
It’s estimated that type I collagen makes up around 90% of all collagen in the body. Amino acids like proline, hydroxyproline, and glycine constitutes the bulk of collagen, and collagen’s signature triple-helix (winding stairs) structure is comprised of these amino acids.
Why Do We Need Collagen?
Medical News Today deems collagen as a framework, giving the body structure and support. It’s a key part of connective tissue and helps keep cells in place throughout the body. It also makes the skin more robust and flexible. Collagen the body naturally produces is called endogenous collagen. Exogenous collagen come from external sources, like supplements.
Collagen produced naturally has a variety of crucial roles. Scurvy is only one of several illnesses that may result from its disintegration. For aesthetic reasons, such as enhancing skin suppleness, exogenous collagen is often the go-to supplement. It is also used for tissue healing post medical procedures.
Collagen’s Role in Skin Care and Supplements You Could Use
Collagen is essential for the health and durability of the skin, as per Medical News Today. Its production slows down as fibers shrink and weaken as individuals mature. This, according to some specialists, hastens the aging process of the skin. As a result, collagen is often found in a wide variety of skin care items nowadays.
Many skin care and cosmetic products include collagen because of its purported ability to enhance skin health. Marketing for collagen supplements emphasizes its purported ability to boost blood circulation to the skin, which would have a positive effect on skin suppleness and the appearance of wrinkles. To that end, some of the best collagen-infused skin care products are moisturizers like L’Oréal’s Collagen Moisture Filler Day/Night Cream and Neutrogena’s Rapid Firming Peptide Contour Lift Cream. The collagen trend has made room for vegans too with products like the Algenist Genius Ultimate Anti-Aging Cream, according to “InStyle.”
Some skin care products increase collagen reserves. According to Healthline, tretinoin and retinol (both retinoids) in skin care products bolstered collagen production. So a topical cream like RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream is great for boosting collagen! By increasing cell turnover and stimulating collagen production, retinoids act as catalysts to diminish skin aging effects, such as fine lines, creases, and skin discoloration like hyperpigmentation.
How Collagen Improves Overall Skin Wellness
The role of collagen extends beyond how it can improve your skin. WebMD notes the following wellness advantages of this vital amino acid/protein.
Alleviates Osteoarthritis Symptoms
Oral collagen supplementation may reduce inflammation and discomfort in persons with osteoarthritis. These enhancements may not become noticeable until after a few months of consistent supplementation though.
An Antidote for Thinning Hair
While male pattern baldness is more common, female pattern hair loss and thinning is rather common as well. Researchers found that when women with thinning hair took collagen supplements on a regular basis, their hair grew faster, covered more of their scalp, and was thicker overall.
Promotes Greater Bone Density
Bones lose density and are prone to brittleness with age, making them both more susceptible to breaks and slower to repair. Regularly used, collagen supplements increases bone density, thus counteracting the effects of aging on bone fragility, and stimulating natural bone-building.
As per Medicine Net, collagen peptides are the most beneficial kind of collagen to consume. Those looking to supplement with collagen should focus on taking hydrolyzed collagen. Hydrolyzed collagen is collagen that has been chemically processed into tiny peptides, making it more readily absorbed by the human digestive system.
For your body to get the maximum benefits of collagen consumption, combining it alongside vitamin C is ideal. As vitamin C is required for collagen production, taking a collagen supplement with it will increase the supplement’s bioavailability. Do not buy flavored collagen peptide products and always check for third-party certification before purchasing.
There is no specific “optimal” kind of collagen to take; rather, one must consider individual health requirements instead. As discussed in the previous section, the ideal form of collagen supplementation for skin care is in the form of creams, while the best types for other wellness requirements are powders, which most people use to make shakes, and collagen in capsule form.
Collagen Vs Collagen Builders
Although called “collagen builders,” these supplements do not really contain actual collagen, which comprises three primary amino acids. Instead, a collagen builder promotes collagen production. A collagen builder will make your skin more luminous and younger looking as it recovers collagen lost as a result of environmental causes like stress and pollutants.
Natural Sources of Collagen
Collagen production may be boosted by eating well, according to WebMD. It is created when the body combines the amino acids glycine and proline. These acids are available in foods like poultry, seafood, meat, eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, and legumes.
Vitamin C, copper, and zinc, among others, also help boost collagen. Proteins in beans, whole grains, nuts, and shellfish are good sources of copper and zinc. Poultry, bone broth, and red meat are all wonderful meal options that include proteins that aid collagen synthesis.
Preserving Your Skin’s Natural Collagen Reservoir
Sun rays, tobacco use, and sugar all contribute to a gradual decline in collagen levels. Collagen fibers become unusable when subjected to excessive UV radiation. This may cause skin aging.
Several compounds in smokes are known to cause cellular damage, which may lead to the premature skin aging. Sugar makes collagen fibers get entangled. In the long run, this causes skin to become less supple.
To look younger longer, avoid or reduce exposure to elements that could prematurely affect your collagen levels. That, with the use of collagen-boosting foods and supplements, could help you stay in the best form for life.