More than Skin Deep
The connection between beauty and collagen
By Melissa Smith, CNP
Collagen is everywhere in the beauty industry these days. You might find collagen as an ingredient in your favourite face cream or as a supplement in the beauty section of your health food store. It is becoming increasingly popular in the anti-aging industry as a means to stay young and fresh. Collagen is a complex protein, comprised of 19 different amino acids. It is found throughout the body and helps keep the body in good health.
Collagen is said to be the body’s building blocks, making up 25 to 35 per cent of the body’s protein content. Along with our skin, it can be found in tendons, muscles, blood vessels, and the digestive system—it’s really the glue that holds us together. Lack of collagen in the body can also negatively affect the health of our nails and hair.
Beautiful skin relies on the body’s ability to produce collagen—in fact, our skin consists of nearly 75 per cent collagen. However, as we age, our bodies produce less and less collagen and we experience sagging skin, more wrinkles, and less elasticity. Other factors that reduce collagen production include poor diet, lack of sleep, stress, poor digestion, illness, and anything that dries out the skin—such as smoking and UV radiation.
Each of these issues cause collagen to break down at a quicker than normal rate. Reduced collagen in the skin causes it to cave in, creating wrinkles. The most important factor is to stay hydrated, and moisturize the skin to help prevent the rate of collagen loss. If you plan to use skin care that includes collagen, look for products that also contain vitamin C, as it is essential to the synthesis of collagen. Supplementation of collagen may also help the body to reduce the effects of sun-damaged skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
A 2013, double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that collagen supplementation over the course of eight weeks in women aged 35–55 significantly improved skin hydration, skin elasticity, and skin roughness compared to the placebo controlled group.
In another double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 48 women with fine hair were given supplements to aid in the natural production of collagen. The results showed a positive effect on hair strength, elasticity, and break load which resulted in thicker, shinier hair.
Most of us want beautiful hair, skin, and nails, but what we fail to consider is the effect that our inner health has on our outer appearance. Fortunately, collagen can affect much of what is happening inside our bodies, as well. Collagen improves the health of joints, the digestive system, the liver, and the cardiovascular system.
Poor liver health is often evident on the surface of our skin, causing dryness, eczema, and jaundice. A particular amino acid that makes up part of collagen, glycine, helps minimize the damage your liver experiences when it is exposed to foreign substances, toxins, or alcohol. Furthermore, studies have also shown to reduce alcohol-induced liver damage as well as other forms of liver damage.
In order to prevent the signs of ageing and improve overall health, it is important to make sure to include collagen in your diet. Collagen can be found in supplement form in most health foods stores. You can also increase collagen production by including organ meats, bone broth, red and dark green vegetables, citrus fruits, flaxseeds, walnuts and garlic in your meals. If you want to look good and feel good, make sure to eat a healthy diet that includes some source of collagen. It may not reverse time, but it will slow down the effect aging has on our bodies. VM
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