Collagen is a hot topic in the beauty and skincare industry these days. The popularity of collagen products has reached new heights, but claims about its miraculous effects are often excessive. So we decided to demystify what collagen is and take a realistic look at its benefits.
What Is Collagen?
Collagen is the most common protein in your body, making up one-third of the protein composition in the human body. (Yes, seriously.) It’s the building block of bones, skin, muscles, tendons, and ligaments, but you can also find it in blood vessels or your teeth. Simply put, collagen is the glue that holds everything in the body nicely together. (The word collagen comes from the Greek word kólla, which means glue.)
This abundant protein performs a vast number of essential functions, from helping the blood to clot, to, of course, influencing the structure of the skin. That’s often why this beauty industry darling is hailed as a miracle worker for the skin. With aging, there is a gradual decrease in collagen as your body produces less of the protein. Evidence of this may show in the aging of skin or weakened cartilage.
There are at least 16 types of collagen, but here we'll introduce you to the four main types:
- Type I, which makes up to 90% of the collagen in the body, is made of dense fibres and takes care of the structure of the skin, bones, tendons, fibrous cartilage, connective tissues and teeth.
- Type II consists of several, loosely-packed fibres and functions as elastic cartilage that dampens joints.
- Type III supports the structure of muscles, organs, and arteries.
- Type IV is in charge of filtration in the layers of the skin.
Nutrients That Increase Collagen Production
Collagen starts its journey as procollagen. The body produces it with two amino acids– glycine and proline. This process uses vitamin C. To support the production of collagen yourself, you can boost your consumption of these two aminoacids and vitamin C.
Proline enters the body thanks to the consumption of egg whites, wheat germ, and dairy products, but can also be found in cabbage, asparagus, and mushrooms. As for glycine, large amounts of this amino acid are found in pork or chicken skin and gelatin. Rich sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, parsley, rosehip, cabbage, peppers, and strawberries. (You can achieve a much higher dose from acerola, the tropical cherry, which is the richest source of vitamin C. Another vitamin C bomb is the exotic fruit camu camu.)
Oh, That's How You Damage Collagen
Some substances do the exact opposite of boosting collagen production. If you want to protect collagen in the body, it’s best to avoid refined sugar, which reduces the ability of collagen to regenerate. Too much sun exposure is also harmful, as UV radiation has the same effect. Don't forget to use sun protection – preferably natural, preferably daily, even in winter. Smoking also reduces collagen production. Therefore, a higher incidence of wrinkles is common in smokers.
The Truth About Collagen Supplements
Collagen supplements most often come in the form of a powder, capsules, or gelatin supplements. As with all food supplements it is essential to know the origin and the quality of the source. In the case of marine collagen, which comes from fish skin, it is advisable to check whether it comes from wild caught fish. Vegetable collagen is also increasing in popularity, but the structure of this substance is entirely different than what is found in animals. It can bring some benefits, but it cannot replace animal-based collagen. And what are the benefits of collagen supplements? No, wrinkles will not miraculously disappear after applying or using collagen. But there is some good news. Here are seven benefits of collagen use:
1. SKIN HYDRATION
Wrinkles don't go away immediately, but collagen effectively hydrates the skin when used externally and internally. Why doesn't it work better? It’s molecules are too large to penetrate the deeper layers of the skin when applied directly. However, a clinical study of cream application with 0.06% collagen revealed slight firming of the skin and softening of scars after only a few weeks of use.
2. SKIN REJUVENATION
So what about rejuvenation? Collagen peptides can slow down aging, especially by improving skin elasticity. These benefits come from the ability of collagen supplements to stimulate the body to produce even more collagen on its own. Additionally, it helps the body to produce other proteins – elastin and fibrillin –which improve the skin’s structure.
3. JOINT ACHES
Collagen maintains the integrity of the cartilage that protects our joints. As collagen production decreases with age, there is a risk of degenerative joint disorders. Taking collagen can improve symptoms of these diseases and even reduce unpleasant joint pain.
4. BONE LOSS
Collagen maintains bone strength. Low bone density may be the result of disease associated with older age, but collagen delays possible breakdown. Collagen is a handy helper for overall health.
5. MUSCLE MASS
Want strong and healthy muscles? Collagen can help. Collagen makes up between 1 to 10% of muscle tissue, which is necessary for muscle maintenance. It can help those who want to gain more muscle mass, such as athletes during regular training. Collagen also supports muscle strength in people with loss of muscle mass due to old age.
6. HEALTHY HEART
Yes, collagen also affects the arteries. Without it, the arteries can be brittle and weak, which often leads to their narrowing. The deficiency of collagen can lead to a heart attack or stroke. According to scientists, collagen significantly reduces the stiffness of arteries.
7. BEAUTIFUL HAIR AND NAILS
And finally, beauty. Yes, collagen also benefits hair and nails by protecting their fragility and preventing drying.
WONDERFUL TIP: Try marine collagen in capsule form.
In our health section, you will find 100% Type I collagen in capsules, such as KIKI Health’s premium nutritional supplements. This product is a hydrolysed marine collagen from wild-caught fish. It’s enzymatically processed so that the peptides remain intact, and it’s easy on your digestion. The advantage of hydrolysed marine collagen, over non-hydrolysed collagen, is easy absorption. The capsule contains collagen – nothing more, no fillers or added substances. Thanks to the hypromellose packaging, the collagen remains pure, tasteless, and odourless. We recommend you give it a try!