Collagen is one of the most sought-after ingredients in the beauty and wellness community due to its health-boosting features. This protein is associated with fresh-looking skin, strong nails and bones, and pain-free joints. For healthy skin, collagen protein works with another protein called elastin, which is mainly responsible for the elasticity of our skin.
What is Collagen?
Collagen is an insoluble fibrous protein that forms a scaffold to provide structure and strength to the body. It is one of the most abundant proteins in the human body, and it makes up about 80 percent of our skin.
Apart from the skin, collagen is also found in the muscles, bones, ligaments, and tendons. Little wonder we have a high demand for the bottled-up version of this protein.
Dr. Whitney Bowe, a board-certified dermatologist, once described collagen as a “rope of protein present in the skin.” These proteins are usually tight when we’re young, but as we grow old, our bodies reduce collagen production, the proteins become weak and the ends begin to fray.
More so, collagen breaks down faster than our bodies can replace. Consequently, starting in our 20s, we lose about 1% of our collagen every year.
That’s also why drier skin is associated with aging. The structural integrity of the skin declines, hence, the joint cartilage weakens, and wrinkles form.
Many factors accelerate collagen breakdown, including:
- Cigarette smoke
- Sun exposure
- High sugar consumption
- Genetic changes
More so, women usually experience a drastic drop in collagen production after menopause. So from age 60, it is normal to observe a considerable drop in the collagen synthesis level.
But the good part is that you can take collagen supplements as you grow older and your body weakens in its ability to produce collagen. When the endogenous collagen synthesized by the body is limited, you can take the exogenous collagen, which is synthetic and comes in the form of supplements.
What is Elastin?
Elastin is a protein that exists as fibers in the extracellular matrix and gives elasticity and resilience to tissues such as lungs, arteries, skin, tendons, and ligaments.
The name “Elastic” is derived from the word “Elastic,” and it is based on the ability of this protein to stretch and recoil to maintain its original shape.
This protein associates with other proteins in the matrix, including collagens and microfibrillar proteins, and this enhances its stability and resistance to degradation.
Looking at the importance of elastin in the normal functioning of vital organs, proteolytic degradation of the elastin or impairment of the synthesis of this protein will lead to major clinical pathologies.
Elastin and collagen both work to improve the texture and shape of the skin. So when your skin has a healthy level of these two all-natural proteins, you get a youthful appearance, and your skin stays strong.
Does Collagen Supplement Work?
Also, it is quite normal to experience joint, back, and knee pain as you age, but studies have shown that consuming collagen can reduce these pains, as well as increase density in bones weakened with age.
A literature review published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology found some data that supports that collagen increases the elasticity of the skin and boosts overall hydration.
However, more studies are still ongoing on the effect of collagen supplements. But Dr. Bowe said the already published studies show promise, and she has begun recommending collagen supplements to her patients. So far, she has witnessed significant health-boosting benefits in terms of skin firmness, elasticity, and hydration.
Some other medical and cosmetic uses of collagen include:
- Wound dressing: Collagen attracts new cells to the site of a wound, thereby promoting healing.
- Skin fillers: Some fillers containing collagen helps to remove wrinkles (resulting from aging) and lines from the face. It also helps to improve scars, in cases without sharp edges.
- Treatment of osteoarthritis: Collagen supplements help to improve joint function and decrease painful symptoms in people with osteoarthritis.
Various Ways to Absorb Collagen
You might get confused about the best ways to absorb collagen because natural collagen is a huge molecule. But smaller peptides easily pass through our intestinal barriers and gets into our bloodstream (Normally, all good supplement should be able to do this).
So the body takes up the absorbed collagen peptides and utilizes them in areas where it is needed the most.
You can now get all-natural collagen in different forms, including liquids, pills, topical creams, and powder. All these products promise to strengthen your bones and beautify your skin. But the powders are the most popular because you can easily add them to coffee, smoothies, or even water.
Should You Try Collagen Supplements?
It’s absolutely okay to take collagen supplements, but you may need to take it for the long term to get a long-lasting effect. Why? Our bodies produce an enzyme called collagenase, and it eats out our natural collagen. So for you to enjoy an improvement in your skin, joints, and bone, you need to keep taking the supplement.
What’s The Best Way to Take Collagen?
You need to first consider the foods you’re consuming already before trying out supplements. When it comes to marine, bovine, or porcine collagen in food, the skin and bones are the richest sources, but are you eating those health-boosting parts? A lot of people don’t, and that’s why bone broth is often recommended as an easy collagen-rich option.
Bone broth is rich in amino acids, and it may support collagen production. But more scientific findings are still ongoing to back up the benefits of this broth for the skin.
However, it is important to take the recommended dose of collagen peptides. This way, you can be sure not to suffer any downsides.
Collagen is an essential protein that gives structure and strength to your body, and it works with elastin, which gives elasticity and resilience to your lungs, arteries, skin, tendons, and ligaments.
The interesting part is that the more collagen you have, the more your body produces and maintains this protein. When you stimulate its growth, it causes a domino effect.
You can get the best collagen supplements to help boost your body’s collagen production and improve your skin health and bone structure.