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Collagen: is there a protein that can keep our skin young?

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Collagen is the main structural protein in our body. As we age collagen production declines. Research shows that collagen consumption from nutrition or supplements could improve skin health and reduce wrinkles visibility. Collagen could also lower the impact of damage from sun exposure and time on our skin.

Most man and women would like to look and feel younger than their chronological age. Some of you might say: I am quite okay with looking older, white hair is sexy and wrinkles are a sign of a life fully lived. But what if I’ll ask you, what if their was a pill that would make us look and feel younger and healthier, wouldn’t you take it?

When looking at the 50 billion dollars a year cosmetics industry in the US, we can assume thet the answer is probably yes. The cosmetics industry can be divided into six main categories with skin care being the largest out them all and accounts for 36% percent of the global cosmetics market (1). The cosmetics products in their well designed packages promises their consumers they would stay young for many more years.  But what do they actually do?

How do skin care products work?

To understand the way skin care products work, we need to first understand how wrinkles are created. In the tissues of humans and animals there is a structural support network surrounding the cells called the extracellular matrix (ECM). In our skin, the ECM also relates to the elasticity of the cells.

Cells are created from the loss of the ECM. Sun exposure, especially to UVA radiation and other environmental factors like cigarette smoke and pollution, breaks the collagen molecules and its surrounding elastic tissues in the ECM. The loss of these, according to theory, causes wrinkles.

Skin care products address this problem in different ways. Some products contains anti-oxidants that improve UV protection like vitamins C and E. Other products contain retinoic acid, a metabolite of vitamin A1 that promotes collagen and fibrillin in the skin cells (2).

This are outside in approaches but if the problem relates to the inside of our cells would it be logical to add an inside out approach to skin care? 

Enter collagen.

What is collagen?

Collagen is the main structural protein in the body’s of animals and humans. Collagen has an important role in the health of bones, tendons, ligaments and muscles. Collagen makes from 25% to 35% of the whole-body protein content and 80% of the proteins in facial skin. Collagen is produced in our body naturally but from the ages of 18-29 its production declines, as we reach 40  we can lose up to 1% of our collagen a year, and around age 80 collagen production could get up to 75% less than in teens (3,4).

Recent studies show that consumption of collagen from external sources has potential benefit for skin health, joint pain, and bone density.  In this article we’ll focus on the possible benefit of collagen for skin health and wrinkle visibility.

What is Nutricosmetics and how does it work?

Research shows that we can rely not only on expensive cosmetics products and use food for improving our skin health. We can add collagen to our nutrition by eating animal products like meat, fish, chicken skin and bone broth. The down side of this approach is that collagen molecules from natural sources are usually too big to enter intact to our skin cells.

Why it is important to consume hydrolyzed collagen? 

For maximal effect we should add to our nutrition hydrolyzed collagen. Studies show that after hydrolysis, collagen peptides molecules are small enough to enter completely into our cells and promote collagen production in our body.

But not all types of hydrolyzed collagen are identical in their bioactive qualities. The type and location of the cutting of collagen is also important. In recent years researchers developed collagen that gets more efficiently into the bloodstream and that can work on the deep layers of the skin. This is a breakthrough in nutricosmetics because when bioactive collagen segments reach the deep into the skin they change the balance of collagen production. They promote faster production of new collagen in the cell and at the same time delay its destruction.

Collagen improves skin health

A double blind study, which included 105 woman in the ages of 45-65, examined the effect of 2.5 grams of bioactive collagen peptides. The participants who received collagen showed significant improvement in elastin and pro-collagen in the skin cells. Most interestingly, was the visible decrease in the depth of the wrinkles in the sides of the eyes.

Further research from the recent years showed lowering in laugh lines (6), increased skin moisturization (7), and deceases cellulite visibility (8).

How to add collagen to our nutrition

The mentioned studies show that we can rely not only on expensive cosmetics products and add an inside-out approach to skin care. We can add collagen to our nutrition by eating animal products like meat, fish, chicken skin and bone broth. The down side of this approach is that collagen molecules from natural sources are usually too big to enter intact to our skin cells.

For maximal effect we should add to our nutrition hydrolyzed collagen. Studies show that after hydrolysis, collagen peptides molecules are small enough to enter completely into our cells and promote collagen production in our body (5).

Most studies show that the minimal amount for visible effect is 2.5 grams.

Using collagen supplements is usually safe rarely have any side effects, but just in case, consult with a health professional that can customize the amount taken for you individual needs.

In our blog we offer many health and lifestyle habits for promoting health span. It seems like collagen can help not only to age better but to look good while doing it.

References

  1. https://www.statista.com/statistics/243742/revenue-of-the-cosmetic-industry-in-the-us/
  2. https://www.chemistryworld.com/features/the-science-of-skincare/5494.article
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1606623/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17200942/ 
  5. https://www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/355523 
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10498764/
  7. https://www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/351376 
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26561784/
maya avatar

Longevity.Science Founder and Editor, is a healthspan hacker and entrepreneur. Following applying longevity science insights to her own life, and healing from a debilitating health condition, it has become her passion to make this knowledge accessible. Maya writes about longevity science, technology and the behavioral interventions that can help you maintain bodily and mental function for as close as possible to the end of life.

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