What is Collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in our body and is one of the main building blocks of our skin. It is also present in our bones, muscles, and tendons. It is a substance that forms a scaffold that provides strength and structure and at the same time holds the body together.
There are 2 types of collagen; endogenous collagen which is natural collagen synthesized by our bodies, and exogenous collagen which is synthetic, meaning it comes from an outside source.
Endogenous collagen plays an important role in the body, a decrease in the production of it may result in different health problems.
Exogenous collagen is used for medical and cosmetic purposes, collagen injections can improve the contours of the skin and fill out depressions.
Why is collagen so important?
A huge contributor when it comes to facial aging is the loss of collagen. Collagen is one of the main structural proteins that give your skin firmness and smoothness. Your skin produces collagen on its own, however, the amount of collagen that it produces decreases rapidly as we grow old. Studies show that collagen loss starts at around the age of 20, and the collagen production level is reduced by 1.5% each year.
In the middle layer of skin also known as the dermis, collagen helps form a fibrous network of cells called fibroblasts, in which new cells can grow. Collagen plays a significant role in replacing and restoring dead skin cells.
Collagen also acts as protective coverings for delicate organs in the body, such as the kidneys. As we grow old, the body produces less collagen thus the structural integrity of the skin declines and wrinkles are formed, and joint cartilage weakens.
At the age of 60, a dramatic decline in the production of collagen is normal, while women can experience a considerable reduction in collagen levels after menopause.
Nutrients That Increase Collagen Levels
All collagen starts as procollagen; your body makes procollagen by combining two amino acids — glycine and proline and this process use vitamin C.
You can help your body produce more of this important protein by making sure you take a lot of the following nutrients:
Vitamin C. Large amounts of vitamin c are found in citrus fruits, bell peppers, and strawberries.
Proline. Large amounts of proline are found in egg whites, wheat germ, dairy products, cabbage, asparagus, and mushrooms.
Glycine. Large amounts of glycine are found in pork skin, chicken skin, and gelatin, but glycine is also found in various protein-containing foods.
Copper. Large amounts of copper are found in organ meats, sesame seeds, cocoa powder, cashews, and lentils.
Also, your body needs high-quality protein such as meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, legumes, and tofu are all excellent sources of amino acids needed to make new proteins.
Do collagen supplements work?
Collagen is often sold as a supplement such as collagen peptide powders, capsules, or lotions. But do they work?
The answer to that is probably not. The issue is that most things we ingest are broken down by stomach acids and are not absorbed into the bloodstream. It’s unlikely we absorb ingested collagen as it’s broken down in the stomach.
You could use topical products to increase your skin’s production of collagen, but, unfortunately, these products rarely penetrate deep enough to create a significant effect on the production of collagen. Collagen is produced quite deep in the skin, in the dermal layer.Cosmetic lotions that claim to increase the production of collagen are unlikely to do so since collagen molecules are too big to be absorbed through the skin.
What can we do then?
7 Tips on How to Boost Collagen in the Skin
1. Take Vitamin C Supplements
Vitamin C is a significant component in the production of collagen; increasing your vitamin C intake boosts your body’s natural way of producing this protein.
2. Use A Topical Vitamin C Serum
Just like when taking vitamin C supplements, a high-quality topical vitamin C serum can also help your skin to produce more collagen.
3. Use Topical Retinoids
Using topical retinoids like retinol, tretinoin, tazarotene, adapalene, and tazarotene can help increase the production of collagen in your body. Brand names of prescription retinoids include Altreno, Atralin, Aklief, Average, Differin, Retin A, Renova, and Tazorac.
4. Use Hydroxy Acids
Using hydroxy acids such as glycolic acid, lactic acid, phytic acid, malic acid, tartaric acid, citric acid, and mandelic acid in skincare products can also help in boosting your collagen levels. You can find these in different types of cleansers such as Essopi Glycolic 10% Moisturizing Cleanser and others.
5. Use Polyhydroxy Acids (PHAs)
Polyhydroxy acids help exfoliate the skin and reveal a fresh new layer of skin underneath dead skin cells. It also helps to fight against the process of glycation in which sugar molecules are allowed to attached and damage proteins like collagen.
6. Use Skincare With Growth Factors
Using skincare products with growth factors can help boost the production of collagen in your body. These products have been formulated with a unique way of harvesting human growth factors that ensures the stability and effectiveness of these beneficial ingredients. However, not all skincare products that contain growth factors will give you such results.
7. Use An Exfoliating Scrub
Use an exfoliating scrub to remove dead skin cells from your skin and stimulate the renewal process of cells.