Collagen comprises 30% of the proteins in the human body, yet collagen production naturally declines as we age. Read on to learn more about this important protein, what it does and how you can counteract declining collagen levels as you age.
What is collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. It provides important structural support to skin, bones, cartilage, connective tissues, and the spine. While there are 16 different types of collagen in the human body, approximately 90% of it is type I collagen, which provides structure to bones, teeth, and connective tissue.
What are the benefits of collagen?
Collagen plays a role in everything from the condition of nails and hair to joint health. Following are five key benefits of maintaining sufficient collagen levels.
1. Improved Joint Health
As people age and collagen production declines, the cartilage of their joints begins to degrade. This can lead to osteoarthritis, inflammation, and joint pain. Fortunately, collagen supplements can help reverse or prevent joint degradation and relieve some of the associated symptoms.
2. Bone and Muscle Benefits
Bones are mostly comprised of collagen, so age-related decreases in collagen production understandably manifest in more fragile bones that take longer to heal after injury. A daily collagen supplement can help strengthen bones and slow the ageing process that makes them brittle. One study found that taking 5 grams of collagen peptides per day for a year yielded significant increases in bone mineral density.
Up to 10% of muscle tissue is made up of collagen, making it an essential protein for building muscle. A three-month study on men with age-related muscle loss (i.e., sarcopenia) showed that a daily exercise program combined with 15 grams of collagen resulted in more muscle mass and strength gains versus the same exercise program alone. Another study of elderly men found that collagen peptide supplements combined with resistance training increased muscle strength and improved body composition.
3. Skin Benefits
Many people first notice the effects of declining collagen production in the texture of their skin and connective tissue. Decreased collagen production leads to dry skin, which causes wrinkles to form. A 12-week study on women aged 35 and older found that a collagen supplement improved skin hydration, elasticity, roughness, and density.
4. Hair BenefitsIt’s common knowledge that many men experience hair loss as they age. However, many women also experience thinning hair as they age. As a result, some women turn to collagen supplements in hopes of supporting healthier hair. Collagen can positively affect the condition of hair in several ways:
- Provides amino acids essential to keratin production, the protein that comprises hair.
- Can act as an antioxidant to help fight free-radical damage to hair follicles.
- Can prevent hair thinning by contributing to a healthy dermis.
- May help slow greying due to its antioxidant properties.
5. Nail BenefitsLike hair, nails contain keratin – so the same potential amino-acids-derived benefits of collagen apply. Collagen’s amino acids can be used to build new proteins and compounds, including keratin. One study found that a 24-week course of collagen supplements:
- Increased nail growth by 12%
- Decreased broken nail frequency by 42%
- Yielded a 64% “global clinical improvement” in brittle nails
How can we tell if we are lacking collagen?
Many people first notice the effects of declining collagen production in the texture of their skin and connective tissue in the form of dryness, wrinkles and sagging. More serious deficiencies can lead to fatigue, trouble with concentration and memory, joint pain, and an increased risk of ligament and tendon injuries. Most general practitioners can perform a screening to determine whether a patient has a medically significant collagen deficiency.
How can we prevent collagen loss?
UV exposure breaks down collagen in the skin, so wearing sunscreen every day is an important step towards safeguarding your skin. Vitamin C has been proven essential to collagen synthesis, so eating foods such as citrus fruits, broccoli, and bell peppers, which are rich in vitamin C, could help in maintaining collagen levels.
Scientists are still uncertain as to whether eating collagen-rich foods has any effect on increasing collagen levels in the body. However, studies show that foods such as chicken skin, pork skin, beef, and fish as well as foods that contain gelatin, such as bone broth, provide collagen. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants might also help prevent collagen breakdown, particularly in the joints and muscles.
How can we take collagen?
Collagen supplements might help to reduce the amount of collagen that’s naturally lost through the ageing process. Eating collagen-rich foods, such as these, can also help boost collagen intake:
- Leafy greens
However, collagen supplements are often preferred because they contain hydrolysed collagen, which has already been broken down into individual amino acids and peptides. This theoretically makes it easier for the body to absorb and use. Hydrolysed collagen can be absorbed directly into the bloodstream, speeding up its effects.
DESEJR® offers a high-quality collagen and hyaluronic acid supplement that supports normal hair and nails, hydrated skin and its elasticity, and may help to preserve bone strength. This supplement is enriched with zinc, silica, vitamin C, biotin, MSM, papain, and spirulina.
Patience is key when starting a collagen supplement regimen. Most research agrees that it takes at least 8 weeks to assess the supplement’s effects on skin condition and joint pain, and up to 12 months for bone health effects to become apparent.
Are there any side effects?While collagen supplements are generally well-tolerated with minimal side effects, some people have reported digestive-related side effects, such as heartburn and feelings of fullness.
Some collagen supplements are derived from common food allergens, such as fish, shellfish and eggs. Therefore, it’s important to check your supplement for potential allergens. DESEJR’s® Collagen and Hyaluronic Acid capsules have been lab-tested to be free from artificial flavours, colourings, magnesium stearate, and other unwanted additives, gluten, lactose, and GMOs.