Collagen is a primary component of most biological structures. This protein is found in humans, animals, and some plants.
In general, we can find collagen in the skin, hair, nails, bones, tendons, ligaments, muscles, and blood vessels.
Over the past few years, the world witnessed a surge in the popularity of collagen supplements due to a variety of reasons, such as their anti-aging properties, skin improvements, and the prevention of bone demineralization.
In this article, we will discuss the mechanisms that explain the benefits of collagen on the skin, hair, and nails.
Benefits of collagen
The main role of collagen is to act as a building block for organs and tissues. In other words, when you take collagen supplements, you’ll optimize the health of most of your organs; however, the vast majority of benefits involve the skin, hair, and nails.
Here’s how collagen can benefit the hair, skin, and nails:
As you age, your body becomes less efficient at producing collagen. Consequently, this leads to elasticity and moisturizing problems that precipitate wrinkles and rashes.
In a 2013 study, researchers inspected the effects of collagen supplementation on skin elasticity and moisture.
Researchers took 69 participants and divided them into 3 groups; one group received 2.5–5 grams of collagen per day for 8 weeks, the second group received lower doses of collagen, and the third group received a placebo.
After analyzing the results of the study, researchers reported that the first group had a significant improvement in their skin’s appearance, elasticity, and degree of hydration relative to the other groups.
Other studies of this type found similar results, where collagen supplements led to positive results on different skin parameters shortly after intake.
In fact, many large beauty product brands started incorporating collagen into their products, specifically to improve skin composition and texture.
If you’re not familiar with oxidative stress, here’s a quick definition:
Inside the cells, there are some molecules in a chemically unstable form (i.e., reactive oxygen species). The main goal of these chemicals is to destroy foreign pathogens (e.g., bacteria, viruses, fungi). Unfortunately, they are not equipped with targeting properties; therefore, if we lose the balance of reactive oxygen species (ROS), they start wreaking havoc on our own cells.
To keep this system in check, the body employs a smart system that involves antioxidants to counter the effects of ROS. Of course, this system is not perfect and could easily lead to an excess number of ROS relative to antioxidants, which is collectively known as oxidative stress.
By neutralizing the effects of ROS, collagen is a fantastic way to improve skin health.
The physiology of the hair follicle is complex and requires a harmonious process that involves several factors to ensure the normal growth of hair.
Here’s how collagen helps with hair growth:
Keratin is a vital protein for the process of hair growth.
To produce this protein (and others), the body needs essential and non-essential amino acids. By definition, essential amino acids cannot be produced by the body, leaving dietary intake as the exclusive source.
The good news is that collagen contains several non-essential amino acids that interfere with the process of keratin production and hair growth.
Brittle nail syndrome is a relatively prevalent condition characterized by the raggedness, peeling, and roughness of nail surfaces.
In a 2017 study, researchers conducted a clinical study with 25 participants to evaluate the effect of collagen supplements on brittle nail syndrome. Participants received a dosage of 2.5 grams of collagen every day for 24 weeks.
After follow-ups, the studies showed that collagen contributed to a 12% improvement in the rate of nail growth and reduced the frequency of nail breaking by up to 42%.
Participants also reported feeling better about their appearance after taking the supplements.
Collagen supplementation is extremely important, especially for individuals with poor skin hair and signs of aging (e.g., wrinkles).
Hopefully, this article managed to convey the benefits of collagen on the integumentary system and how it can improve your general appearance.
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