Last updated on June 7th, 2023 at 03:55 pm
Collagen supplements have become increasingly popular, mainly for skin health and appearance. While many people used to inject collagen or apply it externally to the skin, it has now become the norm to ingest collagen, whether in pill, powder, or liquid form. We now know that the collagen molecule is too large to cross into the skin’s lower layers; therefore, topical treatments are not of any real use.
A small but growing body of evidence has suggested the importance of collagen in improving the appearance of the skin, decreasing symptoms of arthritis, helping wound healing, and decreasing muscle wasting. While collagen is not a miracle pill, it is proving itself to have some incredible health benefits.
Importance of Collagen
Collagen is a protein that binds tissues together in fish and animals, including humans. It is found in bones, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, and skin. You can think of collagen as the body’s scaffolding, the glue that holds the body together.
Collagen helps skin cells stick together, giving skin strength and elasticity. It is important to provide structure and volume to your skin and keep wrinkles from setting in. Collagen makes up about 75 percent of the dry weight of your skin and is rich in the amino acids needed to repair your tendons, bones, and joints.
Your body naturally produces collagen, but with age, you begin to break down collagen faster than your body can replace it. By your mid-20s, you slowly start to lose collagen. Women can lose up to 30 percent of their collagen in the first five years of menopause. This can contribute to sagging and wrinkled skin, accelerating the appearance of aging.
Collagen’s Role in Visible Age Reduction
Though the science of collagen is still in its infancy, some studies have supported collagen’s role in visible age reduction. One study of women aged 35 to 55 found that those supplemented with 2.5 – 5 grams of collagen daily for eight weeks.
Benefitted from improved skin elasticity compared to the control group who did not take the supplement. In another study, women took 1 gram of collagen per day for 12 weeks. They reported 76 percent less dryness, 12 percent fewer visible wrinkles, increased blood flow to the skin, and a 6 percent higher collagen content.
A systematic review, which is a review of multiple studies. Concluded that there is indeed preliminary evidence for oral collagen supplements for skin aging.
Sarcopenia is an age-related loss in muscle mass and contributes to a change in body composition as you age. One study of 53 men with sarcopenia found that the men who took 15 grams of collagen every day in addition to lifting weights gained significantly more muscle (and lost more fat) than the men who only lifted weights.
There are some natural ways to protect your body’s collagen supply. First, limit your time in the sun, wear sunscreen, and avoid tanning beds. Ultraviolet rays break down collagen. Second, ensure you eat foods high in antioxidants, such as fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants can help prevent collagen breakdown.
Collagen supplements are a new but promising remedy for skin aging. As more research is done in the area, we will gain even more insight into collagen’s benefits for our skin and beyond.
Rick Kaselj MS, is a leading kinesiologist and injury specialist as well as co-creator of the best-selling Unlock Your Hip Flexors program. Rick creates exercise programs that help people heal injuries and eliminate pain, so they can go back to living a full, active, healthy life.