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Does Collagen Really Work? What Does Collagen Do for the Skin?

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The word “collagen” comes from the Greek word “kola”, which means glue. Collagen is indeed the “glue” that holds our tissues together, as it is the main structural protein in the extracellular matrix in our connective tissue and makes up our skin and cartilage. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body. 

We have 28 different types of collagen; each type is categorized by amino acid composition. Most collagen in the body is type one, and can be found in our skin, tendons, organs and interior of our bones. The body’s ability to produce collagen decreases with age. It is imperative that you obtain the building blocks needed for boosting collagen by eating a balanced diet of foods rich in protein. 

Additionally, diets rich in fresh produce have been known to contribute to collagen production. With that being said, eating your fruits and vegetables is important for your body’s collagen production! Sun exposure, smoking, and a poor diet have been proven to decrease collagen production and are habits to avoid. 

Benefits of Collagen

Collagen has many benefits for the human body, such as its ability to strengthen bones, promote skin and hair growth, and improve joint health. This makes sense given that collagen is one of the major building blocks of your bones, skin, and muscles. In fact, collagen has been used for years as fillers to plump lips and soften wrinkles. Collagen has become more accessible with emerging collagen supplements that are both affordable and easy to consume. Among the many health benefits collagen has to offer, here are three with the most evidence by research studies: 

  • Muscle mass: 1-10% of all muscle tissue is composed of collagen. It is no wonder that protein such as collagen is necessary to keep your muscles strong and functioning. Researchers suggest that taking collagen supplements might promote muscle protein synthesis, which can stimulate muscle growth after you exercise. In a recent study, collagen supplements when taken alongside strength training increased muscle mass and strength more so than the placebo in the study. For people with age-related muscle mass loss, taking collagen supplements may significantly improve muscle growth and strength.
  • Arthritis: Studies have shown that collagen supplements may improve the symptoms of arthritis and even protect the body against the progression of the disease. Collagen has been known to help maintain the integrity of cartilage and improve joint protection. As collagen decreases with age, your risk of developing joint disorders increases. Taking collagen supplements may slow the aging of your joints and improve symptoms of joint diseases. 
  • Skin: As you age, you produce less collagen. This leads to more wrinkles and dry skin. Studies have shown that women taking collagen supplements have an improved skin appearance and elasticity. Collagen is used in many serums, topical creams, and capsules to improve the skin’s wrinkles and lines. Many studies have shown that using collagen on the skin can slow aging and reduce wrinkles and dryness. Furthermore, taking collagen supplements may promote protein production that can help structure your skin, such as elastin and fibrillin. 

This is just the beginning of the long list of ways you can benefit from collagen supplements. Collagen can improve your gut health, hair/nails, brain health, and weight loss. 

Here are 3 collagen supplements we recommend: 

·      Live Well’s Collagen Supplement

·      Elemis’s Pro-Collagen Marine Cream

·      Hum’s Collagen Love Capsules

When purchasing collagen supplements, look out for the following keywords: collagen hydrolysate, hydrolyzed collagen, and collagen peptides. In addition, be sure to purchase supplements from a reputable brand that uses high-quality ingredients. 

Collagen and Your Skin

The newest skincare craze is collagen supplements. Collagen helps skin cells adhere to one another. It gives the skin strength, stretch, and elasticity. Collagen production decreases with age, which contributes to wrinkles and saggy skin. There are numerous studies suggesting that collagen improves the skin’s elasticity. However, many of these studies are small and uncontrolled. 

Therefore, we need more research to determine if collagen is beneficial for the skin when taken in supplements. Given that collagen is a hot topic in the beauty industry right now, it will not be long until more research emerges giving us insight as to how effective collagen is for aging skin.

How to Consume Collagen

Collagen comes in all shapes and sizes. It can be found in skin serums, moisturizers, and creams as well as pills and capsules that you can take alongside your daily multivitamins. Collagen can come in a powder that can be put in your favorite foods, such as smoothies, salads, and more. It can be taken in the form of gummies or even as gelatin in Jell-O. There are some foods that contain more collagen than others, such as chicken, fish, nuts, beans, grains, and red meats. 

The bottom line is, there are many creative ways to consume collagen. How you consume collagen does not matter as much as what level of quality of collagen you consume. Low quality supplements can be harmful. You must find high quality, reputable source of collagen supplements to ensure the collagen you are consuming is both safe and effective. 

Harms to Collagen Production

  • Aging: Your body’s collagen production naturally declines with age. Taking supplements is necessary to maintain collagen in your aging tissues. 
  • Sun exposure: It is important to protect yourself from the sun by using sunscreen daily, as sun exposure is associated with decreased collagen production. 
  • Bad habits such as smoking: Smoking has negative effects on collagen production. Avoiding bad habits such as smoking can significantly improve your overall health, but especially your collagen production.
  • Poor diet: Having a poor diet has been linked to less collagen production. It is important to eat foods rich in collagen, such as red meats, fish, chicken, nuts, beans, and grains.

Sources: 

Collagen Skin Study 1: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6835901/

Health Matters: https://healthmatters.nyp.org/can-collagen-supplements-really-reduce-signs-of-aging/ 

Medicine Net: https://www.medicinenet.com/collagen_diet/article.htm

Collagen Skin Study 2: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03505684?term=oral+collagen+skin&draw=2&rank=1

HealthLine: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/collagen-benefits

Cedars Sinai: https://www.cedars-sinai.org/blog/collagen-supplements.html

Joint study: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17076983/

Aging skin study: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/259628887_Oral_Intake_of_Specific_Bioactive_Collagen_Peptides_Reduces_Skin_Wrinkles_and_Increases_Dermal_Matrix_Synthesis

Muscle study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4594048/

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