Should You Take Collagen for Your Skin?

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What is collagen? Collagen is the most abundant protein found in the body (it makes up for about 33% of the protein in the human body and about 75% of our skin). It is responsible for keeping the skin firm and smooth, acting like a glue that keeps it tight. In fact, the word collagen itself, as translated from the Greek word "kolla", means glue. Healthy, plump skin generally means abundant levels of collagen, and collagen also participates in skin repairing processes, such as wound healing.

(Image: Lilly Wallace)

Why should you consider collagen supplements?

Collagen production decreases with age, which leads to the sagging of the skin and the formation of wrinkles. Since it is impossible for collagen to be absorbed through the skin due to its molecular size, topical application of collagen does not work — the only way to increase the amount of collagen in the body is through nutrition and supplementation.

(Image: Lilly Wallace)

The best way to keep healthy levels of collagen in the skin is to prevent collagen damage in the first place. Here are a few effective ways that you can do it:

  • Protect your skin from UV rays. Use a broad spectrum physical sunscreen and wear a large brimmed hat when you spend time outdoors.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Only use non-irritating skincare products (products that suit your skin type and are free of irritating ingredients).
  • Consume a diet that is low in sugar and high in vitamins and minerals.
  • Protect your skin from environmental stressors and pollutants as much as possible.
(Image: Lilly Wallace)

Tip

  • Another way that you can increase collagen in the skin is with exfoliation. Routinely exfoliating your skin with a product that suits your skin type activates the fibroblasts (cells that make collagen) and leads to increased collagen production.

How can collagen supplementation benefit your skin?

It may improve skin's elasticity.

A double-blind, placebo-controlled study from 2014 showed that oral supplementation of collagen significantly improved the skin elasticity of the women who had been taking collagen peptides for eight weeks.

It may improve skin moisture level.

A 2015 study focused on measuring skin hydration levels for eight weeks. At the end of the eight weeks, evidence showed that taking a collagen peptides supplement is effective at improving skin hydration.

Another study conducted in the UK in 2015 showed that taking a supplement containing hydrolyzed collagen, hyaluronic, vitamins and minerals lead to a significant improvement in reducing wrinkle depth and a noticeable improvement in hydration and elasticity.

It may promote the healing of a leaky gut.

Heaving a healthy gut is considered essential to keeping the skin healthy. Collagen is packed with amino acids that help to repair the gut lining, leading to a healthier gastrointestinal tract. A collagen supplement can promote the healing of the gut, and therefore, lead to skin improvements.

(Image: Lilly Wallace)

How to choose a collagen supplement

Of the many types of collagen that have been identified (so far, twenty eight), the most abundant in the human body are type I and type III, which account for about 80-90% of the collagen in the body. When choosing a supplement, it is important to look for one that contains type I collagen.

In order to be properly assimilated by the body, collagen is hydrolyzed. This process breaks down collagen into short chains of amino acid, called collagen peptides. A collagen peptide supplement is easier to digest and has similar beneficial properties.

When choosing a collagen supplement, you should look for one that is sourced from healthy animals: grass-fed, pasture-raised (rBGH-free) cattle and wild-caught fish, such as Vital Proteins collagen products. A healthier source guarantees a more nutritious supplement.

Collagen supplements come in different forms, including powder, liquid and capsules. Powder supplements have become very popular due to the fact that they have a mild taste and are convenient to use. They can be mixed into any liquid, such as juice, smoothies, coffee or tea — which makes them easy to drink any time of the day and be readily absorbed into the body.

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