Collagen: The Ultimate Anti-Aging Protein
While you have probably heard about collagens’ benefits to the skin you may not be aware of exactly what collagen is and why it’s important for healthy looking and feeling skin. Here’s an overview of collagen: why it’s important, how aging decreases collagen production, and what you can do to raise your collagen levels.
What is Collagen
Collagen is a protein that is naturally created by the human body. It is the main structural protein found body’s connective tissue and muscle. In fact collagen is thought to make up 25% to 45% of the body’s total protein content (Source). Collagen fibers can be found in many parts of the human body including the skin, tendons, ligaments, bones, blood vessels, and teeth. Collagen supports the functioning of bodily organs, plays a large role in the body’s healing process, and is essential for skin health.
How Collagen Effects the Skin
Collagen maintains the integrity of the skin. That is collagen gives the skin its strength and elasticity, two primary components of the plump and youthful appearance of healthy skin. Additionally collagen plays a key role in cellular renewal: the process by which old skin that’s shed from the top layer of the epidermis is replaced by new skin.
Normal Aging Decreases Collagen Production
Along with normal aging comes a decrease in collagen production, along with decreases in the production of other proteins related to the metabolic process. For most people collagen production tends to fall drastically by the age of 40.
When collagen production diminishes for any reason, the result can be weaker skin, breaks in the protein fibers, and eventually, the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Less collagen production results in a lower cellular turnover rate, meaning newer and fresher looking skin is slower to appear.
The reduction in collagen levels is also responsible for a decrease in elasticity of the skin, the reason for the formation of wrinkles, lines, and sagging skin. Diminished collagen levels can give skin an ashy (dry) and rough appearance.
Collagen Boosting Products
Fortunately there are ways to increase your collagen levels and achieve radiant and youthful looking skin. The following products can help add collagen back into your skin:
- Collagen injections replenish the skin’s natural collagen levels; giving the skin a plumper and firmer appearance.
- Hyaluronic Acid is a substance naturally made by the body that gives skin volume. Hyaluronic Acid based dermal fillers like Restylane, Juvederm, and Voluma work to attract and bind water; boosting fullness between the collagen and elastic fibers of the skin.
- Fat tissue can be harvested from the patient’s own body and injected into the skin to provide collagen-like benefits.
- Skincare products containing synthetic or animal collagen instantly add elasticity to the skin.
- Amino acids like glycine work to boost collagen synthesis. Some cosmetic products are made with high grade amino acids that can have profound effects on the skin.
- Polypeptides are even more powerful than regular amino acids. Polypeptides are chains of bonded amino acids that are also found in some over-the-counter skincare products.
- A precursor (forerunner) of collagen, precollagen is a naturally forming protein that works to boost collagen production.
- Retinol and Retinoids stimulate collagen production while thickening the deep layers of the skin. Learn the difference between retinol and retinoids.
- Skin Care Products like SkinCeuticals Body Tightening Concentrate or Neocutis Bio Gel have been shown to help boost collagen over time.
Stress Less: Stress has been known to spur the body to produce cortisol, a hormone which breaks down collagen bonds. So if you are constantly stressing your body is literally destroying precious collagen. Find time each day to practice proven stress relief techniques like meditation or yoga. Try to have a positive outlook on life and surround yourself with family and friends. Your skin will thank you!
Exercise Daily: There is a high correlation between maintaining healthy collagen levels and having a healthy metabolism. Indeed regularly exercising can result in increased collagen production. Shoot for 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily.
Proper Sun Protection: Overexposure to UV rays disrupts collagen production. Make sure to practice proper sun protection like using a broad spectrum sunscreen with a high sun protection factor (SPF), refraining from tanning, and avoiding peak sun hours.
Vitamin C: A diet containing sufficient amounts of vitamin C has been shown to enhance collagen synthesis. Make sure to regularly eat vitamin C rich foods daily, including citrus fruits, tomatoes, berries, broccoli, dark leafy greens, and peas.
Stop Smoking: Heavy smokers are nearly five times more likely to develop wrinkles at an early age compared to non-smokers. Smoking produces collagen destroying enzymes which disrupt collagen production and imitate premature aging. Yet another reason to put down the cigarettes!