If you go anywhere near social media right now it won’t come as a surprise to hear that collagen is a pretty hot topic. Everyone from Jenifer Aniston and multiple Kardashians can’t seem to keep quiet about it.
Since collagen is now ‘TikTok’ famous, you could be forgiven for thinking it’s some new miracle cure dreamt up by a mad scientist in a secret, tropical island laboratory.
You might be surprised to hear that your body is producing collagen as you read these very words.
Yes, collagen is a naturally occurring protein. It’s actually the most abundant one in the human body and it’s more or less what holds you together. There are 28 types of collagen that we know of, and type 1 accounts for around 90% of it. It’s found in everything from your hair, fingernails, bones, muscles (including the heart), tendons, and of course, skin.
Not only is it structural, it also plays a vital role in tissue repair, immune function, communication between cells and the movement or migration of cells around the body.
Type 1 collagen is incredibly durable, in fact, pound-for-pound it’s stronger than steel. It keeps your muscles strong, joints flexible, and gives skin strength and elasticity.
Collagen and aging
This is all good news. But the unfortunate downside is that as we age collagen production slows down, what is produced is of lower quality and less useful for the body. This leads to joint cartilage deteriorating, the structural integrity of the skin declining, and in turn, wrinkles forming. Our bones, hair and nails become more brittle and general physical strength decreases. Plus our ability to heal from injuries and wounds takes longer.
Lifestyle factors like sun (UV) damage, excess alcohol or sugar consumption, and smoking can also speed up the process. But either way, this decline starts in our early 30s and by the time we reach 60 a considerable reduction in collagen production and quality is a reality. This effect is even more pronounced in post-menopausal women.
What can we do to replenish our collagen stores?
This may all seem like doom and gloom, but fortunately, collagen is resorbable. That means it can be broken down and absorbed for the body to make use of. And there are things we can do to increase our collagen levels through consuming it, or even by encouraging our bodies to naturally increase prodution of it.
Rich sources of collagen include bones and skin of chicken or fish, egg whites, as well as a lower concentration in avocados, leafy green, tomatoes, and garlic. It’s also important to note that on top of collagen your body also has other dietary requirements like vitamin C to support collagen production, so citrus fruits, and berries can help here.
While it’s clear that eating a wide variety of whole foods and maintaining a generally healthy diet, these kinds of dietary choices may help with skin elasticity, joint maintenance and general age defense.
Of course, it’s not always easy to pack your diet with enough of these kinds of foods to get the benefits you may need. There are also considerations for those of us who lead a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle or have allergies to things like shellfish or eggs.
This is where supplements really come into their own. Collagen is normally hydrolyzed in supplement form. This is a process that breaks the protein down into smaller pieces so the body can make far better use of it in its natural state.
Collagen supplementing might seem like an influencer trend but there’s an increasing volume of research done, and being done, that supports its effectiveness. A review by the International Society of Dermatology assessed 19 separate studies that included over 1,000 people and concluded that hydrolyzed collagen outperformed placebo treatments when it came to skin hydration, elasticity, and wrinkles.
The truth of the matter is that none of us are getting any younger and collagen (or its dwindling supply and quality), plays a significant role in that inevitable process of aging. But we have options when it comes to keeping collagen levels high, and feeling and looking good for longer.
Common sense tells us to avoid smoking and drinking excessively. Eat a wide range and variety of fresh and whole foods of as many different colors as possible. Get plenty of vitamins, minerals and protein in your diet. And of course, as Baz Luhrmann said ‘wear sunscreen’.
At the same time as that, consider a good-quality collagen supplement. There is a steadily growing body of research supporting the case for liquid collagen and vegan collagen builder supplements helping us age beautifully and gracefully. If you don’t believe us, just take a look at Jenifer Aniston.
About the author:
Adam Jenkins is head of product development for Windsor Botanicals who offer a wide selection of supplements and beauty products inspired by nature. This includes liquid collagen and vegan collagen builder options fortified with collagen bioactive-enhancing vitamins, minerals and naturals.