Collagen 101: Understanding the Benefits of the Most Abundant Protein in Your Body
Collagen is a protein that plays a vital role in the structure, strength, and elasticity of our body's tissues. It is the most abundant protein in the human body, accounting for around 30% of its total protein content. Collagen is found in several parts of the body, including the skin, hair, nails, tendons, cartilage, and bones.
During childhood and adolescence, the body produces an abundance of collagen. However, as we age, our collagen production decreases steadily, leading to age-related signs and symptoms such as sagging skin, wrinkles, less lustrous hair, achy joints, and weakened tendons.
Studies have shown that the loss of collagen in the skin is directly linked to skin aging and the development of wrinkles. In fact, research has shown that collagen levels in the skin decrease by about 1% every year after the age of 20 . The loss of collagen in the joints can also lead to osteoarthritis, a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide .
Fortunately, there are ways to increase collagen production and maintain healthy levels in the body. Here are some tips:
Eat a diet rich in collagen-boosting nutrients: Certain nutrients, such as zinc, and copper, are necessary for collagen synthesis. Vitamin C plays a crucial role in collagen synthesis, as it is required for the hydroxylation of proline and lysine residues in the collagen molecule. Without sufficient vitamin C, collagen synthesis is impaired, leading to weakened skin, hair, and joints. Foods that are high in these nutrients include citrus fruits, leafy greens, nuts, and seafood .
Consider taking collagen supplements: Collagen supplements have become increasingly popular in recent years. They come in various forms, such as powders, capsules, and drinks, and are designed to boost collagen production and improve skin, hair, and joint health .
Protect your skin from sun damage: UV radiation from the sun can damage collagen fibers in the skin, leading to premature aging and wrinkles. Wearing protective clothing can help prevent this damage .
Quit smoking: Smoking has been shown to decrease collagen production in the skin, leading to premature aging and wrinkles. Quitting smoking can help improve collagen levels and overall skin health .
Exercise regularly: Exercise can increase collagen production. Exercise stimulates the production of growth hormone, which in turn stimulates collagen synthesis. Additionally, exercise increases blood flow and nutrient delivery to the skin and other tissues, which can promote collagen production. Incorporating regular physical activity, such as walking, running, or weightlifting, can help maintain healthy collagen levels.
Get plenty deep, restorative sleep: Sleep is crucial for collagen production. During sleep, the body undergoes repair and regeneration processes, including collagen synthesis. Chronic sleep deprivation can impair collagen production and lead to premature aging signs, such as wrinkles and sagging skin. It is recommended to get at least 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night to support collagen synthesis and all aspects of health.
Reduce stress in all its forms: Stress can negatively impact collagen. Chronic stress can lead to elevated cortisol levels, which can impair collagen synthesis and accelerate aging signs. Incorporating stress-reducing practices, such as meditation, yoga, qi gong, or deep breathing, can help support collagen production and health in general.
Collagen plays a crucial role in maintaining the health and vitality of our body's tissues. While collagen production naturally decreases with age, there are ways to boost collagen levels and maintain healthy skin, hair, and joints. By following a balanced diet, incorporating collagen supplements, safeguarding your skin from sun damage, quitting smoking, and balancing exercise and rest, you can enhance your collagen levels and foster better physical and mental health.
Disclaimer: The information provided on this website is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for advice from a healthcare professional. This website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Always consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new health or wellness program or making any changes to your current healthcare regimen.
Proksch, E., Schunck, M., Zague, V., Segger, D., Degwert, J., & Oesser, S. (2014). Oral intake of specific bioactive collagen peptides reduces skin wrinkles and increases dermal matrix synthesis. Skin pharmacology and physiology, 27(3), 113-119.
Oesser, S., Adam, M., Babel, W., & Seifert, J. (1999). Oral administration of 14C labeled gelatin hydrolysate leads to an accumulation of radioactivity in cartilage of mice (C57/BL). The Journal of nutrition, 129(10), 1891-1895.
Choi, F. D., Sung, C. T., Juhasz, M. L., & Mesinkovsk, N. A. (2019). Oral Collagen Supplementation: A Systematic Review of Dermatological Applications. Journal of drugs in dermatology: JDD, 18(1), 9-16.
Asserin, J., Lati, E., Shioya, T., & Prawitt, J. (2015). The effect of oral collagen peptide supplementation on skin moisture and the dermal collagen network: evidence from an ex vivo model and randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials. Journal of cosmetic dermatology, 14(4), 291-301.
Mays, R. R., Gordon, K. G., & Pichardo-Geisinger, R. O. (2019). Sunscreen: A review of efficacy, development, and regulatory considerations. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 80(1), 266-271.
Knuutinen, A., Kokkonen, N., Risteli, J., Vähäkangas, K., & Kallioinen, M. (2002). Smoking affects collagen synthesis and extracellular matrix turnover in human skin. British Journal of Dermatology, 146(4), 588-594.