Any skincare lover will be well acquainted with collagen and be familiar with reading the term on their favourite skincare bottles, but what EXACTLY is collagen, where is it found, what does it do for our skin and how can we supplement it's natural decline?
The name ‘‘collagen’’ is used as a generic term for proteins forming a characteristic triple helix of three polypeptide chains.
Collagen is essentially protein molecules made up of amino acids. It provides structural support to the extracellular space of connective tissues.
Collagen is composed of 3 chains. The chains are wound together to form a triple helix. As glycine is the smallest of all the amino acids, it allows the chain to form a tight configuration allowing it to withstand stress.
The primary amino acid sequence of collagen is: glycine-proline-X or glycine-X-hydroxyproline.
“X” can be any of the other 17 amino acids i.e.
glycine-proline-lysine or glycine-lysine-hydroxyproline.
Source: Nijhuis WH, Eastwood DM, Allgrove J, et al. Current concepts in osteogenesis imperfecta: bone structure, biomechanics and medical management. J Child Orthop. 2019;13(1):1–11. doi:10.1302/1863-2548.13.180190
Collagen can be further divided into several groups depending on the type of structures they form. There are 28 various types of collagen that have been discovered, with the most common being types I through IV, with type I comprising over 90% of the collagen in the human body.
The process of collagen synthesis occurs mainly in the cells of fibroblasts which are specialised cells with the main function of synthesising collagen and stroma. Collagen synthesis occurs both inside and outside of the cells. Although different types of collagen undergo different post-synthesis modifications, the basic outline for collagen synthesis is listed below:
Supplementing-Why is collagen so important to skin health and what are the benefits of taking it?
Collagen makes up 75% of the dry weight of our skin. As we age, our skin's inner layer loses collagen, becoming less supple and more vulnerable to damage. After the age of 18 our collagen levels start to drop, and this accelerates by 1.5% per year from the age of 30.
We need a collagen supplement to replace what we lose with age. There has been an abundance of research investigating the benefits of taking collagen for women over 30, finding that daily oral collagen intake can improve skin elasticity, skin hydration and reduces the visibility of ageing.
Skin health is one of the most well researched benefit of taking collagen with studies consistently showing that collagen improves skin elasticity, helps skin better hold onto moisture, and deepen the density of collagen fibres within skin. Studies also suggest that supplements can improve both skin hydration and the dermal collagen network with the potential to improve the markers of skin ageing.
Like collagen levels, skin elasticity, starts to decline in our 20s. A 2014 study in Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, studied women aged 35 to 55. The women ingested a collagen supplement or a placebo once daily for eight weeks. At the study's end, those who took the collagen had improved skin elasticity compared to those who took the placebo.
A study by Nutrition Research (2018) investigated the role of an oral collagen supplement that also contained other ingredients (chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine, L-carnitine, vitamins, and minerals). Researchers found that the supplement increased skin elasticity and hydration. Beautifully Nourished’s Hair, Nail and Skin Complex features 50mg Marine Collagen, 50mg of marine chondroitin, 80mg MSM, and 80mg of Vitamin C per tablet.
Other studies have investigated oral collagen supplements and evaluated their effects on wound healing and skin ageing, concluding supplements can increase skin elasticity, hydration, density.
Nutrients that may naturally increase collagen production
We can help our bodies to produce this important protein by making sure we get plenty of the skin nourishing nutrients, including:
- Vitamin C. Vitamin C rich foods include citrus fruits, broccoli, potatoes and blackcurrant.
- Proline. Proline rich foods include asparagus, mushrooms and cabbage
- Glycine. Glycine rich foods include meat, fish, dairy products and legumes
- Copper. Copper rich foods include dark chocolate (happy squeal!), spirulina, shiitake mushrooms and nuts and seeds
What Damages Collagen?
Just as it is important to be aware of nutrients that can stimulate collagen production, it is equally as important to be aware of foods that can destroy and, or damage collagen.
Eating too much sugar and refined carbs.
Sugar interferes with collagen’s ability to repair itself. Glycation occurs when a sugar molecule bonds to a protein or lipid molecule without enzymatic regulation.
This process is caused by the presence of excess glucose in skin fibres. This excess triggers an internal reaction in which sugar molecules adhere to the collagen and elastin proteins, which normally help keep skin firm and supple.
- Getting too much sunshine. Ultraviolet radiation can reduce collagen production. Avoid excessive sun exposure.
- Smoking. Smoking reduces collagen production. This can impair wound healing and lead to wrinkles.
We hope that you enjoyed your daily Beauty Fix.
With love, Beautifully Nourished x