What Is Collagen and Should You Be Taking It?
What is Collagen & What Does it Do?
Collagen is a well-known but rarely well-understood buzzword, but what is it? Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, making up 30% of the body’s proteins. Its responsibility is to literally hold everything together, and is found in the bones, muscles, tendons, skin, hair and nails. It provides structural support and elasticity and is vital for cell renewal, cartilage and bones.
So, why do we care about it so much? It’s the key to smooth, young-looking skin and healthy joints.
There are 3 types of collagen: Types 1, 2 and 3. Types 1 + 3 can be taken together, and are good for your skin, bones, hair and nails. Types 1 and 3 make up 90% of the collagen in your body, and can minimize wrinkles, improve skin elasticity, support bones, correct damaged nail beds, thicken fine hair and improve your body’s circulation.
Type 2, to be taken separately from 1 and 3 for optimal absorption, benefits your fluids and functions in your cartilage and joints. Type 2 helps reduce popping knees, and helps support your jaw, back, and joints.
What Damages My Collagen Production?
As we age, our body’s collagen production decreases, leading to saggy and aging skin, fine lines and wrinkles, and weakened cartilage in your joints. After the age of 30, our collagen production begins to rapidly decline. The bright side? You can stimulate your collagen production to help keep these aging side effects at bay!
Aging is the #1 cause of diminished collagen production. Even though you can’t stop the aging process altogether, there ARE things that damage your level of collagen production that you’re totally able to control! Avoiding the following things will keep your collagen production levels higher:
- Eating too much sugar
- Overexposure to sunlight (say NO to the tanning bed!).
- Poor Diet
- Poor gut health
Related: 7 Quick Beauty Pick-Me-Ups
How Can I Boost My Collagen Production?
There are nutritional, procedural, and supplemental methods to promote collagen production. I’ll break it down for you.
As we always say at Get Healthy U: Nutrition before supplements! There are certain nutrients (that you may not know much about yet) found in common, delicious foods that promote collagen production.
- Proline (found in meat, cheese, soy, cabbage, and eggs)
- Copper (found in shellfish, red meat, water, nuts)
- Vitamin A (found in meat and beta-carotenes)
- Vitamin C (found in oranges, broccoli, peppers, strawberries)
- Anthocyanidins (found in blackberries, cherries, raspberries)
There are also external things you can do to control your collagen production! There are both procedures and products (typically prescribed by a dermatologist) that can help, too.
- Laser Therapy- Laser treatments are a great, non-surgical way to stimulate collagen production and use laser and light energy to reduce the appearance of fine lines and skin elasticity.
- Retinoic Acid (Vitamin A)- This member of the retinoid family helps kick cells into gear and promote cell production in the skin and stimulates both collagen and elastin production.
- Skin Fillers- Collagen injections are a common cosmetic procedure that helps remove fine lines and wrinkles from the face and can help with scarring from acne.
- Collagen Drinks: For a long time, collagen drinks have existed, and promised to make your skin, hair and nails look better than ever, but experts have doubted this claim because they thought it was unlikely that the body would actually absorb the collagen. Recently, however, the results have been considerably more promising. Many studies have cited women who consumed collagen drinks showed significant improvement in the thickness and elasticity of their skin!
- Collagen Supplements: Collagen supplements have been around forever. Now you don’t just see them in the aisles of specialty vitamin stores, but in your local drugstores! But do they work? There was a large study in early 2014 conducted by the University of Kiel’s Department of Dermatology that showed 65% of women having significantly elevated levels of collagen and reduction in wrinkles after 8 weeks of taking a collagen supplement.
1. Lotions & Creams With Collagen Help Wrinkles
Do these work? Unfortunately, probably not. Leading dermatologists say that it’s nearly impossible for the skin to absorb collagen topically, and that any results seen from these products is likely because of their moisturizing qualities, not their ability to rebuild the collagen proteins in your skin. You’re better off consciously increasing your water intake and purchasing a great, all-natural moisturizer and beginning a religious moisturizing routine!
2. You Cannot Restore Your Own Body’s Collagen
This is not true! Your body never stops producing collagen, but its production is decreased dramatically as we age. The production probably can’t be impacted by topical application of creams and lotions (though those may help to fill and fix fine lines and wrinkles), but rather can only be impacted by active ingredients (in foods and supplements).
3. Pills & Potions Don’t Work
We’re the first ones to say that pills and potions aren’t the best way to fix any problem. But this time, we think they’re worth your time. Studies have shown (and our own personal experiences!) that collagen supplements and a diet rich in nutrients that support collagen production DO benefit the health of your skin, nails, hair, joints, and bones!
GHU Suggestions About Collagen:
Founder and CEO of Get Healthy U, Chris Freytag, is a daily collagen supplement-taker. She takes the NeoCell collagen supplement in pill form, but also loves their collagen in powder form! Some people find the pills a bit too big to take, so we suggest getting a pill cutter or scoop some of the powder into your morning smoothie!
Another tip from Chris is get yourself some Hyaluronic Acid. Hyaluronic Acid is an accelerator and helps hasten the effects of any supplement you may be taking. Chris takes her NeoCell supplement alongside Hyaluronic Acid and has seen great results! Give it a try and let us know about your experience!