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You probably already know that collagen is super important for the body and that it’s a vital part of maintaining firm skin and a youthful complexion. But do you know exactly why or what you can do to maintain optimum collagen levels as you age (sans gimmicks and snake oil)?
Let’s break it down.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body. It provides structure and strength throughout your system - that’s why it’s often called the “glue” of the body!
About 30% of the body’s proteins are some form of collagen, and this stuff is everywhere. It helps make up bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. It even helps protect organs and connect cells to each other - so it’s a super important protein on both a micro and macro level.
What about this molecule it so great?
These properties allow collagen to offer the following benefits:
There are 16 different types of collagen in the human body, though the most abundant forms are type I, type II, type III, and type IV.
Collagen production starts going down around age 25 - and it just gets worse and worse from there. The older you get, the less collagen you’re going to produce. Plus, the collagen that you do make isn’t going to be the same quality that it was in your younger years. This problem is exacerbated by:
Loss of collagen leads to sagging skin, wrinkles, reduced skin elasticity, and stiff joints. It’s like your skin's glue is less strong and sticky. So, the glitter and pom-poms start to run down the arts and crafts page.
There are lots of theories out there about what can help restore collagen levels in the body. Some work, some don’t. Here’s what you need to know.
Collagen is produced in the body using procollagen. This substance is secreted by your cells, then processed into collagen. This only happens with the help of vitamin C, and a few other essential nutrients:
Your best bet? Get these nutrients from the food sources listed above - it’ll be most effective, and better than any synthetic products.
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Consuming them will help your body produce more collagen. In particular, you’re looking for the amino acids glycine (found in pork, beef, and chicken) and proline (found in many protein-rich foods, including bone broth).
These sources aren’t guaranteed to up your collagen production, but they certainly will support your body in general - which can’t hurt.
Folic acid - also known as folate or vitamin B9 - is vital for the creation of new cells. It also plays an important role in skin health and appearance. One study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology found that topical application of a mixture containing folic acid and creatine improved the firmness of the skin by boosting collagen synthesis.
You can find folic acid naturally in legumes, asparagus, eggs, leafy greens, and citrus fruit.
Overall, it’s clear that your body needs a variety of nutrients in order to make collagen. If you don’t consume enough of them, it will struggle - no matter how healthy you are otherwise. Incorporate helpful foods in your diet like:
What’s the deal with collagen supplements? There are two types of popular collagen supplements: hydrolyzed collagen and gelatin. One small study shows that they can improve skin elasticity in women.
Overall, taking collagen supplements has its pros and cons. One con? You never know how your body is actually going to use that collagen. Why? When you consume collagen, your body first breaks it down into amino acids then rebuilds it as it sees fit. So it may not rebuild it into collagen.
The short version? It’s not going to work. The collagen molecule is too big to be absorbed by the skin, so applying it topically can't increase your levels.
That’s why we don’t include collagen directly in our products. Instead, we incorporate vitamin C, peptides, MSM, and antioxidants - ingredients that support the overall health and vitality of your skin (and help you produce collagen on your own)!
Here’s to youthful skin and supple joints!