Collagen supplements have become popular in the last few years due to claims that it can make the skin appear more youthful. But does it really work?
Diet and Lifestyle Choices
Diet and lifestyle choices are more important to the quality of the skin than choosing the right supplements to take. Smoking, not staying hydrated, living a sedentary life, and eating processed foods and sugar all have a negative effect on the way skin looks and feels.
Without antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and good old-fashioned H20, skin becomes brittle and dry, making it more prone to wrinkles and fine lines. This happens because free radicals form in our skin cells and damage the surrounding cells. Another consequence of poor diet and lifestyle choices is that the skin cannot rejuvenate itself with new collagen as fast as it should.
Is Oral Collagen the Answer?
It would seem logical that by ingesting collagen in a bioavailable form we could feasibly increase the amount of collagen in the skin. However, Dermatology News recently reported that although over $3.7 billion in collagen supplements were sold in 2016, studies have not yet been done to prove its anti-aging benefits.
Medical studies conducted using oral hydrolyzed collagen have shown that it helps the body to repair injured skin, lowers blood pressure, and reduces cholesterol. It is my hope that collagen will soon be studied to see whether it also helps healthy, aging skin to look and behave like younger skin does.
How is Collagen Made?
This supplement is generally taken from cow bones and cartilage. A chemical process is applied to the animal products to extract collagen from the minerals and other unnecessary elements. Once powderized, collagen can be dissolved in water and taken orally. Other animal sources can also be used for collagen supplementation.
How Much is Enough?
Naissan Wesley, MD, and Lily Talakoub, MD, are dermatologists who authored the aforementioned Dermatology News article on the topic of collagen use for anti-aging. They present some valid questions about its use. Namely, can oral collagen help people who have medical conditions where collagen is lacking? Also, how can one know when to stop taking collagen? There are no tests to measure normal levels, so one could hypothetically take too much or not take enough to see the benefits they had hoped for.
What Type of Collagen is Best?
Collagen is found in a number of different sources from marine animals to cows to humans. Since no studies have been done to show whether one source is better than another, supplements on the market today are basically shooting in the dark.
Additionally, there are different types of collagen in the human body. Some types are found in bones and bone fissures, others are found in ligament, tendon, and cartilage tissue, and still other types are found in the skin. The body contains a total of 28 different types of collagen; each is purposed for a different location in the body!
The scientific and medical community, as you know, relies on solid evidence and scientifically conducted experiments to investigate substances such as collagen. With so much unknown right now, it would be unwise to randomly choose one particular type of collagen to ingest and “hope” that it does what you expect it to do…with no other side effects.
It should be noted that the authors of this article cited a medical study that found that vitamin A (retinoids) applied topically to the skin help it to produce more collagen. Another study they cited showed that a drink supplement containing fish oil, soy, and vitamins A, C, and E helped to reduce wrinkles in facial skin.
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