Why You Should Supplement with Collagen as You Age
We’re all searching for a dewy, radiant glow. It might be to feel comfortable in our own skin, or it might be because we’re wanting to support the health of our body’s largest organ, but one thing is sadly promised - as we age, slowly but surely the bounce begins to disappear.
This might be for a number of reasons, including dietary and lifestyle factors, but largely it’s a result of the rate that our natural sources of collagen are depleting from our skin. Collagen is one of the most abundant sources of protein within the body. It is responsible for adding structure, stability, and strength to widespread tissues, such as tendons, ligaments, hair, teeth, and skin. One of the areas of our bodies where it’s needed the most is the dermal layer of the skin, but it’s also beneficial for gut health, protecting from free radical damage, and supporting daily protein intake.
Yet as we age, as gracefully as ever, collagen dissipates from the body. We are born with a finite amount, and over time our once-abundant stores decrease, as the body lacks the ability to produce sufficient amounts. This process is sped up with increased exposure to the sun, known as photo-aging. Low collagen often leads to thinning and brittle hair and nails, the formation of fine lines and wrinkles, reduced cartilage in joints, and decreases in muscle tone. Although our stores are decreasing, it doesn’t mean we have to say goodbye to healthy, supported skin.
Many vital elements of nutrition can (and should where possible) be obtained through the diet, but there are some instances where supplementation is paramount. This exception to the rule includes sources of collagen, which is primarily found in the connective tissue of animal sources, yet is often formulated into supplements. If you’ve been introduced to collagen before, the terms Type 1 and 3, and Type 2 might be familiar to you - you’ll normally find one or the other included in your supplements. But ideally, our body thrives from an adequate intake of both. This is because collagen, like most proteins, is made up of a range of different amino acids which when broken down, offer different health benefits within the body:
Types 1 and 3 make up 90% of the body’s total collagen, which supports skin, muscular, and bone health, and hair and nail growth and maintenance.
The remaining 10% comes from Type 2 collagen, where the amino acids make up the fluid and function in the cartilage and joints.
So why is collagen so important for our health, longevity, and a lasting vibrant complexion?
First and foremost, it supports the skin’s natural barrier.
Collagen plays an important role in strengthening the cells of the skin, as well as supporting elasticity and hydration (responsible for the plump, youthful appearance). Collagen, deriving from connective tissue, is one of the major building blocks that functions as the glue that holds everything together. As it depletes, the other components that support healthy skin fall to the wayside.
Next, collagen has been shown to restore gut health.
Not only is a thriving gut microbiome important for the skin, but good digestive health is also needed for more obvious reasons. As a key player in strengthening cells throughout the body, collagen can support a weakened system. Many holistic practitioners will use it to support intestinal permeability and treat leaky gut syndrome.
Healthy collagen leads to healthy bones.
An area that is gaining more attention is the role of collagen in bone health. Bones are primarily made of collagen, which provides both structure and strength. While conditions such as osteoporosis and osteoarthritis are often associated with age, due to decreased bone density, healthy collagen supplementation is seen to support the bones through these changes in structure.
Collagen supplementation can help grow muscular mass.
As a protein, a healthy intake of collagen can help to support muscular growth and strength. It’s believed that up to 10% of muscle tissue is made up of collagen and studies have indicated that supplementation can help boost muscle mass in people with sarcopenia, which is the loss of muscle mass that happens with age.
The amino acids are useful for supporting healthy hair and nails.
These two other elements of the integumentary system are also supported by collagen supplementation. This is due to the various amino acids present that increase the strength of nails by preventing brittleness and may stimulate both hair and nails to grow longer and more rapidly.
Marine collagen protects from free radical damage.
An abundant amino acid found primarily in marine sources is proline. This is not only vital for the stimulation of collagen synthesis, meaning collagen can not exist in the body without it, but it also acts as an antioxidant and protects the body from free radical damage, which is often correlated with aging.
Ethically sourced collagen is widely considered to be one of the most important, non-negotiable supplements for aging gracefully. An abundance of this protein can be observed in more than just the skin; we see it supporting all elements of our health - our complexion is just the cherry on top.