Collagen the Age Reducer

Collagen the Age Reducer

Collagen supplements have become increasingly popular, mainly for skin health and appearance. While many people used to inject collagen or apply it externally to the skin, it has now become the norm to ingest collagen, whether in pill, powder, or liquid form. We now know that the collagen molecule is too large to cross into the lower layers of the skin, and therefore topical treatments are not of any real use. A small but growing body of evidence has suggested collagen can improve the appearance of the skin, decrease symptoms of arthritis, help wound healing, and decrease muscle wasting. While collagen is not a miracle pill, it is proving itself to have some incredible health benefits. 

Collagen is a protein that binds tissues together in fish and animals, including humans. It is found in bone, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, and skin. You can think of collagen as the body’s scaffolding; the glue that holds the body together. Collagen helps skin cells stick to one another, giving skin strength and elasticity. Collagen is important for providing structure and volume to your skin and keeping wrinkles from setting in. Collagen makes up about 75 percent of the dry weight of your skin and is rich in the amino acids needed to repair your tendons, bones, and joints. Your body naturally produces collagen, but with age, you begin to break down collagen faster than your body can replace it. By your mid-20s, you slowly start to lose collagen. Women can lose up to 30 percent of their collagen in the first 5 years of menopause. This can contribute to sagging and wrinkled skin, accelerating the appearance of aging. 

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Though the science of collagen is still in its infancy, there have been some studies that have supported collagen’s role in visible age reduction. One study of women aged 35 to 55 found that those who supplemented with 2.5 – 5 grams of collagen daily for 8 weeks benefited from improved skin elasticity compared to the control group who did not take the supplement. In another study, women took 1 gram of collagen per day for 12 weeks, and reported 76 percent less dryness, 12 percent fewer visible wrinkles, increased blood flow to the skin, and a 6 percent higher collagen content. A systematic review, which is a review of multiple studies, concluded that there is indeed preliminary evidence for oral collagen supplements for skin aging. 

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Sarcopenia is an age-related loss in muscle mass and contributes to a change in body composition as you get older. One study of 53 men with sarcopenia found that the men who took 15 grams of collagen every day in addition to lifting weights gained significantly more muscle (and lost more fat) than the men who only lifted weights. 

There are some natural ways to protect your body’s collagen supply. First, limit your time in the sun, wear sunscreen, and avoid tanning beds. Ultraviolet rays break down collagen. Second, make sure you are eating foods high in antioxidants, such as fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants can help prevent collagen breakdown. 

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Collagen supplements are a new but promising remedy for skin aging. As more research is done in the area, we are sure to gain even more insight into collagen’s benefits for our skin health and beyond.

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