Vibrant, healthy skin - when you have it, you barely notice it, but as we age we see definite changes. The truth is, even those of us who have been seriously blessed by the genetics fairy won’t escape the effects of time.
While we all know that certain environmental and lifestyle choices factor in to the way our skin responds to the aging process (we’re looking at you, sun bunnies!), most of these visible signs are due in part to the loss of systemic collagen.
What is collagen and why do I want more of it?
Collagen is an amino acid protein that occurs naturally in our body. It provides strength and structure for our connective tissues. In fibrous areas like skin, collagen can be thought of as the glue that holds everything together. Like so many good things, our body’s natural collagen production peaks in our early twenties and slowly declines as we age.
An abundance of collagen means that our system is happily replenishing and rejuvenating our skin, muscles and joints while we enjoy a deep, restful sleep. Until it’s low. Then, we start to notice dull skin tone, fine lines, wrinkles and the sagging, crepey appearance that is the hallmark of aging skin, and as it turns out: low collagen.
It’s impossible to turn back the clock (and those of us who recall 80s hairstyles will find that slightly reassuring) but in the case of collagen we can actually curb this natural decline by consuming hydrolyzed collagen. By supplementing daily with collagen peptides, you are effectively restoring collagen levels in your body, which in turn boost your skin’s health and appearance.
Can’t I Just Buy a Cream?Creams do a wonderful job of moisturizing the outer layers of your skin, but you won’t be restoring the collagen levels in your body. For that, you’ll need a supplement. Dietary collagen is hydrolyzed, meaning that it contains a smaller molecular structure. Once you eat hydrolyzed collagen, it becomes available as peptides in your bloodstream – where it then gets carried off to the skin and tissues that need it most. Creams will deliver collagen to the outer dermal layers, but for optimal results, you need to take dietary collagen.
It’s All About Elasticity
Collagen enhances skin’s elasticity. By replenishing the connective tissues, skin maintains its ability to stretch structurally without remaining slack. Our body uses collagen to rejuvenate this structure, giving our skin the ability to ‘bounce back’. You can feel it when you touch your skin. With the right amount of collagen, your skin looks and feels firm. This firmness, or plumpness, contributes to the visible reduction of fine lines and wrinkles.
Dietary collagen is thought to measurably improve skin’s elasticity, and research is now backing up this claim. In a double blind, placebo controlled study, after only 4 weeks of regular oral intake of hydrolyzed collagen, a higher skin elasticity level was recorded in the participants. Another study sought to identify whether ingesting collagen peptides could actually improve skin’s health and appearance – the results showed that after 8 weeks, oral supplementation with collagen peptides significantly improved skin’s hydration and structure.
And while it’s true that you can thank genetics for the initial appearance of cellulite, collagen levels also play a role in its appearance on our skin. As collagen levels drop, skin becomes thinner. This causes the appearance of cellulite and stretch marks to become more dramatic. Skin with a healthy amount of collagen has a firm structure and is less prone to collapsing into cellulite.
Collagen can’t actually provide internal happiness, but it can bring about a healthy glow. This is because dead skin cells are efficiently and effectively swept away into the waste channels while your body replenishes with fresh new cells – resulting in a brighter skin tone.
What’s Your Type?
At least 16 types of collagen have been identified, but 90% of the collagen in our body is of types 1,2, and 3.
When talking about skin health we focus on type 1, which is responsible for the regenerative action of our skin. And when talking about supplementation, collagen supplements are derived from animals: bovine (cow), porcine (pig), chicken and marine (fish).
Of these four types, marine derived collagen appears to have the greatest bioavailability and therefore is most effective for skin health. Collagen derived from fish breaks down into smaller peptides than the other types, making it easier to digest and therefore easier for our bodies to assimilate the smaller molecular structure and make the most of it. For purity’s sake, always look for wild-caught, deep sea fish based marine collagen. It’s of a higher quality and less likely to contain anything you don’t want to be ingesting.