Why You Need to Replace Collagen with Supplements as You Age
It seems like collagen is suddenly everywhere, and you only need to walk the aisles of your local drugstore to prove it. Products claim that this protein is a miracle drug, delivering softer, younger skin, improved joint health, and thicker hair.
While these claims are compelling, they also seem too good to be true. So what is collagen, and should you be eating it, drinking it, and rubbing it all over your skin? To separate fact from fiction here is all of the info you need.
What Is Collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body. Muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, organs, skin, intestinal lining, and other tissues contain collagen.
Doctors often refer to collagen as the scaffolding or the glue that helps the body hold its shape and structure, as it binds cells and tissues.
The body makes its collagen by breaking down dietary protein into four amino acids: proline, glycine, lysine, and hydroxyproline. If your body contains enough vitamin C, zinc, copper, and manganese from your diet, the amino acids form a triple helix, which makes up collagen.
Along with keratin, collagen renews your cells to promote healthy skin, hair, nails, teeth, muscles, joints, and bones. These proteins form the foundation that makes the body run smoothly.
Types of Collagen
There are 29 types of collagen identified in the human body, with three types serving as the majority of the body’s collagen.
Type 1 collagen comes from bones, ligaments, tendons, and skin for elasticity and strength. In supplements, Type 1 collagen comes from bovine and fish.
Type 2 collagen is cartilage. In supplements, Type 2 collagen comes from chicken joints and cartilage.
Type 3 collagen comes from the skin, blood vessels, and internal organs. In supplements, this collagen comes from bovines.
How Does Age Affect Collagen?
After the age of 20, you produce one percent less collagen in the skin per year. From the age of 30, it accelerates to 1.5 percent each year and then drops further in women from the onset of menopause.
Other factors, such as exposure to UV light, sugar consumption, smoking, intense exercise, lack of sleep, and pollution, contribute to collagen breakdown.
Signs of Collagen Loss
While there is no test to determine how much collagen your body produces, there are some apparent signs of collagen loss. These include:
Loss of Fullness
As collagen levels decline, the face loses its natural fullness, making cheeks appear less round and forming shadows under the eyes.
Joints take on more wear and tear as collagen levels decline. At some point, even everyday activities can become painful.
The firmness of your skin can diminish with the loss of collagen, which contributes to the skin’s elasticity. The most noticeable areas include the jawline, cheeks, stomach, and buttocks.
Collagen is a protein, so increased collagen levels may boost satiety and muscle mass. Conversely, as collagen decreases, you may find yourself gaining weight without altering your diet or exercise routine.
Wrinkles and Fine Lines
Since collagen loss leads to thinning of the skin, wrinkles and fine lines may appear as collagen levels decline.
Limp and Thinning Hair
Lower collagen levels are linked to hair loss and increased breakage and split ends.
The above conditions may also signal other medical conditions. Therefore, it’s always important to talk with your doctor about taking new supplements or any health concerns.
How to Restore Your Body’s Collagen
Now that you know the importance of collagen in looking and feeling your best, the next step is to make sure you’re getting enough. There are several well-established methods for maintaining collagen levels.
Taking Collagen Supplements
Several studies connect collagen supplements to increased skin elasticity, hydration, and wrinkle reduction. However, while the news that collagen supplements can restore skin’s youthfulness is exciting, it’s worth noting that not all collagen supplements are the same.
Quality of Life’s Juvecol® not only provides the essential protein collagen but also supplies proteoglycans and hyaluronic acid, creating a complete collagen supplement. Juvecol® works to improve skin’s elasticity, enhance the skin’s appearance, and reduce wrinkles and fine lines.*
Adjusting Your Diet
Whether your goal is to increase collagen or feel better overall, adjusting your diet to ensure you receive enough protein as you age is instrumental to your health. Protein needs increase as you get older to maintain lean body mass.
Additionally, proteins that contain glycine, proline, lysine, and hydroxyproline may help support your collagen levels over time. Foods to incorporate into your diet include:
- Bone broth
- Gelatin (unflavored)
- Animal sources, like meat and eggs.
For the body to create collagen, you need more than just protein. It would be best if you also had the right amounts of vitamin C, zinc, copper, and manganese to create collagen’s triple helix. Good sources of these nutrients include:
- Green, leafy vegetables
- Root vegetables
- Nuts and seeds
With the proper diet, you can support your body’s collagen needs.
Quitting Bad Habits
Excess sugar intake, smoking, sun or ultraviolet light exposure, and environmental pollutants can harm your body’s natural ability to produce collagen. Conversely, your collagen levels can naturally increase when you live a healthier lifestyle and get enough sleep.
What Types of Collagen Supplements Are Best?
Liquid collagen, often sold in powders that dissolve in coffee, smoothies, or water, usually contains artificial sweeteners, hindering collagen production. Additionally, collagen drinks may have substandard levels of collagen for therapeutic dosing. When choosing a collagen supplement, look for a high-quality supplement that doesn’t contain additives and fillers.