Collagen is one of the latest buzzwords in the health and beauty space. But how important is collagen for your health and aesthetics?
You probably think of the collagen in your skin because that word comes up when we talk about skin aging. It’s true that this protein plays a role in your skin’s youthful appearance, but that’s not all. Collagen is a protein and one of the basic building blocks of our skin. It is also found in bones, tendons, and ligaments.
Fun fact: Collagen makes up 75% of skin’s support structure. Think of collagen as the frame of your mattress. It gives your skin structure and support. To continue the resemblance to the mattress, the springs are elastic fibers and the fillers are hyaluronic acid.
Unfortunately, collagen begins to break down with age, and genetic factors can affect the rate at which this breakdown occurs. Year after year we lose collagen, and we make lower quality collagen. Free radicals damage collagen. They are the enemies of our skin. Environmental factors (such as UV rays or pollution), poor lifestyle habits (smoking) and a poor diet (such as a diet high in sugar) all lead to the formation of free radicals, which accelerate the breakdown of collagen.
Let’s talk a little bit about smoking. One of the best things you can do for your skin is never smoke. Or quit smoking if you do. Research indicates that smoking allows free radicals to attack collagen fibers, leaving them weak and of poor quality. It is therefore not surprising that a smoker’s skin tends to become damaged and wrinkled, especially around the mouth.
What is in collagen? An overview of the structure of this essential protein
Collagen is composed of three amino acids: glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline. The collagen molecule has the shape of a triple helix (triple helix) that combines with other collagen molecules in the skin to form a reticular network in the dermis, the skin layer below the epidermis and above the subcutaneous fat.
What are the benefits of collagen for your body?
Proteins play an important role in the body. Collagen gives body tissues their structure, strength, firmness, and texture. The skin looks like a layer of skin. And when mixed with elastic fibres, it gives the skin its strength and elasticity.
As collagen begins to degrade in the skin and its levels drop in the body, you can see wrinkles, stiffer tendons and ligaments, weak muscles, joint pain, and even digestive issues. Collagen is obviously vital to the health of every system in your body. On a dermal level, taking up to 10 grams of collagen peptides per day can help improve skin elasticity, hydration, and collagen density. In addition, a review published in 2020 suggests that taking hydrolyzed collagen may also protect against uvb-induced melasma, a skin condition characterized by discolored patches on the face, potentially through its antioxidant effects.
When it comes to joint pain, a study published in 2017 asked 139 young athletes with knee pain to take 5 grams of collagen peptides daily for 12 weeks. Compared to the placebo group, the group with collagen supplements experienced less joint pain during exercise, possibly because the protein stimulated partial damage repair in cartilage and reduced inflammation that contributes to discomfort. In addition to the skeleton as a whole, there is a potential benefit to bones. A study published in 2018 found that postmenopausal women with an age-related decline in bone mineral density who took 5 grams of collagen peptides for a year benefited from increased bone formation in the spine and hip.
It may be one of the amazing benefits for cardiovascular health. According to a study of healthy adults published in 2017, participants who took a collagen tripeptide for six months experienced improvements in cholesterol levels and arterial stiffness, suggesting that collagen may help reduce blood sugar and the risk of coronary heart disease.
Scientifically proven ways to increase collagen production
Here’s a not-so-flattering fact: Every year after 30, we lose collagen, and our ability to produce high-quality collagen may be diminished. Topical products that boost collagen production can be used to help replenish collagen stores. One is a retinoid or retinol, which is often formulated into anti-aging creams and serums. A study published in 2016 found that retinoic acid and retinol stimulate collagen synthesis in the skin. Applying products that contain alpha hydroxy acids, such as glycolic acid, and peptides can stimulate collagen formation.
You also have an interest in eating a healthy diet. Protein-rich foods provide the amino acids your body needs to produce collagen. Other nutrients, such as vitamin C, zinc, and copper, may also help. To maximize collagen production, eat a varied diet of whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, lean meats, seafood, and nuts. And yes, that sounds like the healthy eating advice you’ve been hearing for a long time.
Finally, wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. This is the best way to ensure healthy collagen. Be sure to wear it every day, even accidental exposure to the sun will accumulate throughout life. Your first line of defense is to protect the collagen you have, rather than trying to keep up bad sunscreen habits later.
There is some evidence to suggest that regular skin massage may promote procollagen 1 formation and enhance the benefits of anti-aging creams.
Also, it does not work against your body’s natural production of collagen. This means reducing alcohol consumption and quitting smoking. These two habits are associated with a loss of collagen that leads to the formation of wrinkles on the forehead, between the eyebrows, crow’s feet, and deep “smile” lines. Also, limit your sugar intake, which leads to the formation of advanced glycation end products (“AGEs”) that wear down collagen.
What are the different types of collagen?
There are 28 types of collagen. However, resources state that types 1, 2, and 3 are the most abundant collagen in the body, and these are the collagens you will find promoted in product marketing. Since the list of 28 types of collagen is long, we will discuss the three most important types and their location in the body.
Type 1 The main collagen found in the skin is also found in tendons, bones, ligaments, teeth, and some connective tissues.
The second type consists of cartilage and is found in the eyes.
Type 3 This type of collagen is also made in the skin, muscles, and blood vessels. This type of collagen is sometimes called “baby collagen” because of its role in the formation of the fetus and early life in infants.
You don’t need a chemistry degree to decipher skincare product labels.
How do you get more collagen?
There is no shortage of companies trying to get you to boost collagen, whether it’s topical, through supplementation, or through food. Here’s what you need to know about each of them.
Collagen powders and capsules
It has been very fashionable lately, as an addition to coffee and smoothies. There is some evidence that oral collagen supplements, including the type of collagen often found in powders, show “promising results” when it comes to reducing the appearance of aging. However, collagen powder is a protein, and when we eat it, our bodies digest it the same way it would any other source of protein, such as chicken or fish. Collagen powder will not directly enter the skin to provide it with plumpness.
Collagen creams and oils
The collagen creams available in the market claim to reduce the signs of aging by smoothing wrinkles. They contain synthetic collagen, which locks moisture into the skin and produces a plumping effect. But there is a lack of research on how best to incorporate collagen into topical treatments.
Some people choose to drink bone broth, which is full of collagen from animal bones. Although it is a dietary source of collagen, its consumption has not been proven to have anti-aging effects on the skin.
What are the side effects and risks you should be aware of from collagen?
In general, there are no inherent risks associated with collagen. It is an important component for a healthy body. But if you do take collagen supplements, know that supplements do not need to be proven safe before they can be sold. If you want to take a collagen supplement, choose a high-quality supplement from a trusted brand. It should also be noted that the source of collagen is important. If you’re allergic to eggs or fish, for example, you could have a serious reaction to the collagen from those foods.