One problem that we are facing is the lack of collagen. The pursuit of eternal youth and radiant skin has fascinated people for ages. Numerous products and treatments claim to hold the secret to preserving and rejuvenating our appearance. Collagen, known as the foundation of youth, has gained prominence for its ability to promote skin elasticity, reduce wrinkles, and support overall vitality.
This article explores the question: Collagen is what? By examining the science behind collagen, its impact on skin health, and the evidence of its benefits, we aim to provide a clear understanding of collagen’s potential in our quest for timeless beauty and well-being.
What is Collagen
Collagen is in charge of giving skin its suppleness and flexibility. It makes up 75 percent of your skin and 30 percent of the protein in your body. It is found in all connective tissues, including bones, muscles, tendons, and blood. Collagen provides structure and support to these tissues and helps keep skin looking young and healthy.
The role of collagen in the body
Collagen is a protein that plays a critical role in the body, serving as a structural protein that provides strength, support, and elasticity to various tissues.
The main functions of collagen in the body are:
- Maintain the goodness and strength of the skin, tendons, ligaments, and bones.
- helps maintain skin’s firmness and elasticity, contributing to a youthful appearance
- aids in wound healing by providing a framework for new tissue growth
- A key component of tendons and ligaments. It provides strength and flexibility, allowing for smooth and efficient movement. Without sufficient collagen, these tissues can become weak and prone to injury.
- Collagen contributes to the structure and strength of bones. It is the main protein in bone tissue and helps give bones their hardness and rigidity. Collagen works with other minerals, such as calcium and phosphate, to form the dense structure of bones.
- Supports the health of blood vessels, including arteries and veins. It helps maintain their strength and flexibility, ensuring proper blood flow throughout the body.
Signs of aging skin and collagen loss
Human skin physiology and collagen are closely interconnected. As collagen plays a vital role in the strength and power of our skin, it acts as a building block for connective tissues, including skin, tendons, bones, and cartilage.
1. Wrinkles & Fine Lines
As collagen levels decrease, the skin loses elasticity and begins to sag. This can lead to wrinkles, especially around the eyes, mouth, and forehead.
2. Sagging skin
As collagen levels decrease, the skin loses its firmness and begins to sag. This is especially noticeable in the jowls, neck, and breasts.
3. Dry skin
Collagen helps to keep the skin hydrated. As collagen levels decrease, the skin can become dry and flaky.
4. Loss of fullness
Collagen helps to give the skin its fullness. As collagen levels decrease, the skin can become thinner and less plump.
5. Joint pain
Collagen helps to cushion the joints. As collagen levels decrease, the joints can become more susceptible to pain and inflammation.
It is important to note that these are signs of collagen loss and aging. The severity of these signs will differ from person to person. Several factors can contribute to this, including:
- Age: Collagen production naturally decreases with age.
- Sun exposure: Ultraviolet rays can damage collagen fibers.
- Smoking: Smoking can damage collagen fibers and accelerate the aging process.
- Poor diet: A diet low in protein can contribute to collagen loss.
- Stress: Stress can also contribute to collagen loss.
You can do many things to help prevent collagen loss and slow the aging process. These include:
- Wear sunscreen – In human skin, collagen is the key component that plays a crucial role in its structure and appearance. Wearing sunscreen is crucial for maintaining healthy skin and shielding it from the harmful effects of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays that can lead to skin aging and other skin problems.
- Quit smoking – Smoking is not only harmful to your lungs but also to your skin. By doing this, you support collagen production.
- Eating a healthy diet – A healthy diet that includes an adequate amount of high-protein foods containing amino acids crucial for collagen synthesis.
- Manage stress – It has a positive impact on preventing collagen loss, resulting in premature aging and the formation of wrinkles.
- Collagen supplementation – This is taking collagen supplements to support and enhance the body’s natural collagen production.
Benefits of Collagen
Here are some of the specific benefits of collagen for skin health:
- Improves skin hydration: Collagen helps to keep the skin hydrated by attracting water molecules. This can make the skin look plumper and more youthful.
- Increases skin elasticity: Taking collagen supplements can help to increase skin elasticity and lessens the appearance of sagging skin.
- Protects the skin from sun damage: Collagen helps to protect the skin from damage caused by the sun’s ultraviolet rays. This can help to prevent the development of wrinkles and other signs of sun damage.
- Reduces inflammation: Collagen has anti-inflammatory properties, which help to decrease skin inflammation.
- Treat acne scars: Collagen can help to treat acne scars. Unfortunately, there’s no evidence that collagen supplementation can stop or treat acne. And no studies show that it helps with weight loss.
- Reduced joint pain: Collagen supplements may help to reduce joint pain and improve joint function. This is because collagen is a major component of cartilage, which cushions the joints.
- Increased bone density: Collagen supplements may help to increase bone density. This is because collagen is a major component of bone.
- Reduces the appearance of wrinkles: Up between skin cells, collagen fills up the spaces, which can lessen the appearance of wrinkles. The wrinkle-reducing effects of collagen supplements are attributed to their ability to stimulate your body to produce collagen.
Proofs of Collagen’s Effectiveness
Medically reviewed studies provide compelling evidence showcasing the remarkable effectiveness of collagen through rigorous research and clinical trials.
Collagen’s effectiveness in your skin is shown in various research.
- Some evidence suggests that collagen supplements may be effective in improving skin health. In one study, a woman with a healthy lifestyle took 2.5 – 5 grams of collagen for 8 weeks, resulting in increased skin hydration, elasticity, and smoothness.
- A published study showed that with a healthy lifestyle, collagen slows skin aging. Unhealthy lifestyles, such as smoking, alcohol, lack of sleep, etc., collagen cannot undo the effects of these activities; therefore, eliminating unhealthy habits can help collagen production.
- The noticeable result in another research, a woman’s skin becomes less dry, with a significant increase in elasticity on the skin.
- Another study showed that women who took beverages with collagen supplements every day for 12 weeks noticed increased hydration and a notable reduction in the death rate.
2. Joint and Bone Health
As we age, we become at risk of developing degenerative joint disorders and osteoarthritis.
Taking collagen supplements helps with joint pains with a healthy lifestyle.
Two studies showed how collagen and collagen supplements help improve symptoms of osteoarthritis and alleviate common joint pains
- 73 athletes consume 10 grams of collagen daily for 24 weeks. They experienced a significant decrease in joint pains while at rest, as athletes are not completely aware of aches and pains that they might feel during activities or training.
- Adults age 50 and above. They took 2 grams of collagen every day for 70 days. They noticed a remarkable reduction in their joint pains and were better able to engage in physical activities.
According to research, women who have through menopause may benefit from taking collagen peptides supplements since they have a higher bone mineral density.
Collagen may aid in fortifying muscles in older adults whose muscles are deteriorating. An exercise program paired with collagen supplements had better results than exercise alone, according to research involving 72 male participants.
Collagen supplements can also promote and support the production of other proteins that are very important for skin structure and strong bones. However, more research is needed to confirm the effectiveness of collagen supplements for skin health. Additionally, the long-term safety of collagen supplements is not yet known.
If you are considering taking collagen supplements, it is important to talk to your doctor first. They can help you to determine if collagen supplements are right for you and can recommend a safe and effective dosage.
Forms of Collagen Supplements
Collagen supplements are available in various forms, including powders, capsules/tablets, liquids, and creams. They can be taken orally or applied topically to the skin.
There are a few different forms of collagen products available, including
Collagen powder is the most common form of collagen supplement. It can be mixed into drinks, such as smoothies or coffee, or added to food.
This is another popular form of collagen supplement. It is easy to take and can be taken with or without food.
This form of collagen supplement is less common, but it is still a good option. It can be mixed into drinks or taken directly.
Collagen creams are applied to the skin. It can help to improve skin hydration and elasticity.
The main differences between oral collagen supplements and topical collagen:
These supplements are absorbed into the bloodstream, while topical collagen is applied directly to the skin. This means that this can have systemic effects, while topical collagen is more likely to have localized effects.
The bioavailability of collagen is the amount of collagen absorbed into the body. Oral collagen is generally more bioavailable than topical collagen because it is broken down into smaller molecules that are easier for the body to absorb.
The efficacy of collagen supplements is still being studied, but there is some evidence that oral collagen can help to improve skin elasticity, hydration, and wrinkle appearance. Topical collagen may also have some benefits for skin health, but the evidence is unclear.
Oral collagen supplements are generally considered safe, but some people may experience side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and constipation. Topical collagen is also considered safe, but some people may experience skin irritation.
Overall, there is some evidence that oral and topical collagen can benefit skin health. However, oral collagen is more likely to have systemic effects, while topical collagen is more likely to have localized effects.
Some other things to keep in mind when choosing a collagen supplement:
- The type of collagen: There are different types of collagen, and not all types are created equal. The most common collagen supplements are made from bovine (cow) or marine (fish) collagen.
- The source of the collagen: The source of the collagen can also affect its effectiveness. Collagen supplements made from grass-fed cows or wild-caught fish are generally considered to be of higher quality than supplements made from conventionally raised animals.
- The processing method: The processing method can also affect the effectiveness of collagen supplements. Hydrolyzed collagen (broken down into smaller molecules) is generally easier for the body to absorb.
- The dosage: The dosage of collagen supplements can vary depending on the individual. It is important to start with a low dose and gradually increase the dose as needed.
Our body produces less collagen as we age, and there’s no way to reverse it. This is why a healthy diet with high-protein foods is essential.
Collagen can be obtained from: chicken skin, pork skin, and other animal skin, and fish (scales, skin, and bones), known as collagen peptides.
1. Fish With the Skin On
Fish with the skin intact is a valuable dietary source of collagen due to its high concentration in the skin.
2. Bone Broth
When animal bones and connective tissue are simmered over a prolonged period, collagen is extracted from them and infused into the resulting broth, known as bone broth. Commonly used animals for making bone broth include chickens, cows, turkeys, and deer (venison).
Also known for its significant amount of connective tissue, it can be a beneficial addition to your collagen intake. Chicken feet, although less commonly consumed in some regions, are a significant source of collagen.
Besides chicken, cow, and fish, there are other good sources that can naturally boost collagen production naturally, such as:
1. Fruits and Vegetables
Vegetarians and vegans can focus on consuming vitamin C-rich foods to support their collagen production and overall health. Examples of such foods include papaya, citrus fruits, broccoli, leafy greens, and cauliflower.
For collagen to be produced, vitamin C is necessary. Scurvy, a deficiency potentially dangerous illness, can develop from low levels of collagen caused by a vitamin C deficiency.
Scurvy symptoms include gum problems, skin issues, and issues with the healing of wounds.
People must obtain vitamin C from their diets because the human body cannot produce it.
Some food sources include citrus food, red or green pepper, strawberries, and broccoli.
If a patient’s vitamin C levels are low, a doctor can suggest supplements.
Many skin care businesses include vitamin C in their barrier creams. Suggests that topical treatments may aid in shielding the skin from ultraviolet radiation and pigmentation alterations. But there isn’t enough proof to say whether it works or which formulation is most likely efficient.
2. Aloe Vera gel
It is frequently used to cure sunburned skin or to relieve rashes.
Aloe sterols, an oral aloe vera gel extract, were given to participants in a 2015 study. The following outcomes were seen in the patients who took the aloe vera sterols after 8 weeks: they had more moisture in their arm’s skin, their creases weren’t as deep, and their collagen levels nearly doubled.
Scientists conclude that aloe promotes the development of skin-friendly cells.
Aloe products can be taken orally or as a topical lotion, gel, or supplement.
A plant that may have numerous health advantages. It possesses antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. According to researchers, it might help keep skin cells from aging.
An earlier investigation discovered that ginseng raises the level of collagen in the blood.
According to a 2020 laboratory study, red ginseng may help increase skin elasticity by reducing the stiffness of fibroblasts, a component of the collagen structure.
You can find Ginseng in pills, concentrated liquid, and tea.
These help protect the body from free radicals, molecules that the body produces during metabolism.
Exposure to chemicals, such as those in tobacco smoke, can also introduce free radicals into the body.
Various antioxidants may help protect and rejuvenate the skin, for example, by promoting collagen production.
Antioxidants in the following foods and drinks may benefit the skin:
- licorice extract
- yerba mate
- coffee extract
- Mulberry extract
- pomegranate extract
- basil, oregano, and thyme essential oils
- green tea
Carotenoids, such as retinol and beta carotene, are antioxidants that can help boost skin health. They are derivatives of vitamin A.
Topical retinoids may help protect the skin from sunlight by preventing UV rays from breaking down collagen.
Some foods sources of vitamin A :
- beef liver
- sweet potatoes
According to the experts, using a cream or lotion containing retinol may help slightly improve the skin’s texture. However, it does not penetrate deeply enough to tighten loose skin.
What is Collagen? The concept of collagen being the foundation of youth is a complex and multifaceted topic. While collagen undoubtedly plays a crucial role in maintaining the health and appearance of our skin, its influence on overall youthfulness is not a singular factor.
While some evidence suggests that supplementing with collagen or using collagen-based skincare products can have positive effects on certain aspects of skin health and appearance, the extent and long-term benefits remain subject to ongoing research. It is important to note that individual results may vary, and collagen alone may not be the sole solution for preserving youthfulness.
Maintaining a youthful appearance and overall well-being involves a holistic approach that encompasses various factors, including a healthy lifestyle, balanced diet, regular exercise, stress management, and good skincare practices. These factors collectively contribute to healthy skin and boost collagen production and overall vitality.