Collagen and Your Skin
What is Collagen
Collagen is a natural type of protein in your body that forms the connective tissues that hold skin, bone, tendons, muscle, and cartilage together. Collagen is so important in the way our skin looks and feels because it is the main structural component providing firmness and shape. Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies.
The Many Forms of Collagen
There are many types of collagen found within the human body including collagen types 1, 2, 3, 5 and 10. Between 80-90% of our bodies collagen consists of type 1, 2 and 3. Many collagen studies even suggest that Type 1 collagen specifically accounts for almost 90 percent of the body’s supply.
There are also different types of collagen found in certain foods or used to create collagen products and supplements.
Types of Collagen
Type 1 Collagen: The most abundant form of collagen in our bodies. Type 1 collagen is considered to be the strongest and perhaps most important type of collagen. It is made up of eosinophilic fibres that form parts of the body: tendons, ligaments, organs and skin. Type 1 collagen also helps form bones. It is also found within our Gastrointestinal tract. Collagen plays an important role in wound healing because it gives our skin its stretchy and elastic quality that ensures our skin doesn’t tear.
Type 2 Collagen: Type 2 collagen primarily helps build cartilage, which is found in connective tissues. The health of our joints relies on cartilage made of type 2 collagen, which is why it’s beneficial for preventing age-associated joint pain or various arthritis symptoms.
Type 3 Collagen: Type 3 collagen is made of reticular fibres. These fibres are an integral part of our bodies extracellular matrix that makes up our organs and skin. Type 1 collagen and Type 3 collagen are usually found together and this combination is what helps skin with elasticity and firmness. This dynamic collagen duo also forms blood vessels and tissue within the heart. Animal studies have shown a link between deficiency in type 3 collagen and higher risk for ruptured blood vessels and even lower life expectancy.
Type 4 Collagen: Type 4 collagen helps to form basal lamina. Basal lamina is found in endothelial cells that form the tissue that surrounds organs, muscles and fat. Basal lamina are needed for various nerve and blood vessel functions. They line the majority of our digestive organs and respiratory surfaces. Basal lamina can be found in the spaces between the top layer of skin/tissue and the deepest layer. Basal lamina is a thin layer of gel-like fluid that provides a cushion for various tissue.
Type 5 Collagen: This type of collagen is needed to make the surface of cells, as well as hair strands and tissue found in women’s placentas (the organ that develops in the uterus during pregnancy, provides oxygen and nutrients to the growing baby, and removes waste).
Type 10 Collagen: Type 10 collagen helps with new bone formation and forming articular cartilage. It’s involved in the process of endochondral ossification (the process of how bone tissue is created in mammals). Type 10 collagen is beneficial for bone fracture healing and repairing synovial joints. Synovial joints help connect our bones together.
Collagen Production as We Age
When we’re young, our skin stays plump and smooth because it constantly regenerates itself. But as we age, collagen production slows and existing collagen can get damaged due to sun exposure and bad skin habits. The results? Wrinkles and sagging skin.
Dig down beneath the surface layer of skin and you find the “dermis”. Here, bundles of collagen molecules are packed together to form the “scaffolding” that supports the shape of the skin. These elongated fibrils are strong and tall when we are young. As we start to age the fibrils start to break down and weaken.
Like many of the body’s natural systems, our production of collagen starts to back off in middle age. We produce less of it, and what remains becomes weaker and degraded.
This is not only a natural process. In addition to aging, exposure to the sun and other environmental assaults damages the collagen in skin, weakening the support structure and causing skin to sag. As that collagen weakens, we see the following results:
- Fine lines
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Hooded eyelids
- Turkey neck
The Top Benefits of Collagen
Healthy Skin and Hair
As we age, collagen production declines. You will notice it in your physical appearance. Looser skin, more wrinkles and less elasticity. Increasing collagen levels can help your skin look firmer, increase smoothness, and help your skin cells keep renewing and repairing normally. This make collagen one of the best natural skin care ingredients available. Many studies have demonstrated that giving woman collagen hydrolysate once a week (over an 8 week period) significantly improved skin elasticity, skin moisture and dryness. The skin even become more smooth. All of this with little to no side effects.
If you’re looking to detox your liver, collagen is extremely helpful. This is because glycine helps minimize damage your liver when it absorbs foreign substances, toxins and alcohol that shouldn’t be passing through it.
Reduce Cellulite & Stretch Marks
When your skin loses its elasticity as collagen levels decline there is another major negative side effect; more visible cellulite and stretch marks. With less collagen your skin becomes thinner making the appearance of cellulite and stretch marks more evident. There is no more hiding what’s happening below the surface of your skin. Increasing collagen will only help improve your skin’s elasticity and reduce the appearance of dimpling and stretch marks.
Reduce Joint Pain
Do your legs ever feel super stiff? If you have not recently over done it with exercise then this is most likely the effect of collagen loss. Collagen is crucial for healthy ligaments and joints. As we lose collagen we begin to slow down and move with less ease. The bodies joints become stiff and swollen.
Researchers at Harvard’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston found that supplementing with type 2 collagen helped patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis find relief from painful symptoms by decreasing swelling in tender joints.
A study published in the International Journal of Medical Sciences found that people with osteoarthritis joint pain treated with type 2 collagen show significant enhancements in daily activities, such as walking up stairs, ascending or sleeping, and a general improvement in their quality of life.
Heal Leak Gut Syndrome
Leaky Gut Syndrome is a condition where toxins are able to pass through your digestive tract. Collagen helps to break down proteins and lines the surface of your gut and digestive tract. Collagen can help repair damaged tissues throughout the Gastrointestinal tract and infuse it with healing amino acids.
Today, we know that many illnesses and skin conditions originate from inflammation or irritation stemming from an unhealthy gut. Poor gut health, including changes in the gut microbiome and permeability in the gut lining allow particles to pass into the bloodstream where they can kick off an inflammatory cascade (hence the name leaky gut syndrome).
These collagen amino acids also help to treat Irritable Bowel Syndrom (IBS), acid reflux, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. In addition collagen also helps with the absorption of water within the intestines. This is just another positive benefit of collagen for your overall gut health.
Collagen Boosts Your Energy, Muscle Mass and Metabolism
Studies have shown that boosting your collagen may help increase your metabolism by adding lean muscle mass and helping with the conversion of essential nutrients. One of glycine’s most important roles is helping form muscle tissue by converting glucose into energy that feeds muscle cells.
Retaining muscle mass is crucial as you age. Your muscles ultimately support proper posture, bone health and burns more calories than fat.
Research also shows that glycine has important roles in both functions of the digestive and central nervous systems, which play big roles in maintaining a healthy, youthful body. Glycine seems to help slow the effects of aging by improving the body’s use of antioxidants and is also used in the process of constructing healthy cells from DNA and RNA.
In addition, it’s been found that arginine boosts the body’s ability to make protein from other amino acids, which is important for repairing muscle tissue, healing wounds, sparing tissue wasting, boosting the metabolism, and aiding in proper growth and development. And glutamine also helps maintain adequate energy by facilitating the synthesizing of many chemicals. This amino acid provides fuel to our cells, including carbon and nitrogen.
Hair Strength and New Hair Growth
A study published in The Journal of Investigative Dermatology found an essential relationships between the extracellular matrix (ECM) and hair follicle regeneration. This is part of the reason why collagen is used in many hair treatments and has become one of the most promising fields of study in hair loss regeneration.
If you have ever had peeling or splitting nails then a lack of collagen could be to blame. Collagen protein is the building block of your fingernails, hair and teeth.
The amino acid proline helps your artery walls release and minimize fat buildup. Proline is needed for tissue repair within the joints and arteries. Proline also helps control blood pressure. As part of collagen found within joints, it buffers our bodies from the effects of vibration or shock and helps us hold on to valuable cartilage as we get older. It’s also linked with the prevention of arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) since it helps our arteries stay clear of dangerous plaque buildup.
In addition, arginine helps with nitric oxide production, which allows for better vasodilation — meaning the widening of arteries and relaxation of muscle cells and blood vessels that allows for better circulation.
How to boost collagen in our body?
Boosting your skin’s supply of collagen is a little more complicated, but here are some basic steps:
- Stimulate the body’s own production – Getting the body to produce more collagen is a great way to improve skin texture. Vitamin C is critical, as the body needs it to make collagen. A vitamin C serum is a great start, as it’s been shown to help stimulate collagen when applied topically. You can also try some Anti-Aging Serum, which naturally boosts the production of collagen with hyaluronic acid, a natural ingredient that helps maintain collagen as we age.
- Exfoliate – Removing the top, dead layer of skin helps speed up the natural process of skin and collagen renewal, says Amanda Elias, founder of skincare brand Bravura London. If you regularly exfoliate your skin, you encourage cell renewal, which includes collagen. The important thing here is consistency. We often start out exfoliating a couple times a week, but then gradually forget to do it regularly. To see the best results, exfoliate on the same days of the week, every week.
- Collagen-Stimulating Peptides – Certain minerals are also needed for collagen production like copper. When the level of copper in the skin goes up, so too does the level of collagen.Use organic cosmetics for your skin care regimen such as Nayelle’s Day and Night Cream with fermented Sea Kelp which is loaded with collagen promoting bio actives and proven to be best in regeneration as well. It contains no harmful ingredients with better results.
- Amino Acids – Collagen is a protein, and proteins are made from amino acids. Skin care formulas with animo acids like L-arginine and L-glutamine can help boost collagen production. A 2005 study, for instance, found that topical L-arginine increased collagen production and encouraged faster wound-healing. HMB, derived from the amino acid l-leucine, may also be helpful. In 2002, scientists discovered that oral supplementation with arginine, HMB, and glutamine improved collagen synthesis as well. A later 2012 study found that after ultraviolet radiation, mice who received supplements of arginine, glutamine, and branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) experienced significantly increased collagen protein synthesis. A tip: Blue-green algae is rich in amino acids, including arginine. Perfect combination would be Nayelle’s Mud Mask and their day and night cream.
- Up your vitamin C intake for young skin – A study published in the American Journal of Nutrition found women over 40 with the highest amount of vitamin C in their diet were less likely to develop wrinkles than those who consumed lower levels.“Vitamin C is crucial to the ¬formation of collagen – without it amino acids can’t be linked to form the protein,” says dietitian Jo Travers.
- Stop smoking – Smoking creates enzymes called matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) which damage the collagen in your skin, hence the tell-tale sagging which many smokers’ skin exhibit
- Protect your skin from the sun< – Sun exposure is a prime suspect for hastening collagen loss. “UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin and damage the deep collagen support structures there,” says Dr Lowe.
- Add antioxidants to your skincare regime – Antioxidants help protect against free radicals that can cause ageing skin. The term “free radical” describes a damaged skin cell. It’s “free” because it’s missing an electron (healthy cells have two electrons, a damaged cell has one).Free radicals attach themselves to healthy skin cells and basically suck out the electrons they need, leaving healthy skin cells damaged. This process triggers an enzyme in the skin that breaks down collagen. Antioxidants help by neutralizing the free radical so that it doesn’t have to feed off our healthy skin cells.Sip on green tea, it contains antioxidants called catechins. Eat foods high in lutein, an antioxidant found in green leafy vegetables like spinach. Look for creams and serums containing antioxidants too.