The best anti-aging routine starts from the inside out. The key to plump skin and flexible joints doesn’t lie in face cream or even in superfoods – it’s already in our bodies! Collagen, the most abundant protein in the human body, is responsible for helping us to feel and look youthful and healthy. Even if your daily health routine isn’t focused primarily on anti-aging, adding a scoop of collagen powder to your anti-aging routine has total body benefits that you probably didn’t even realize you were missing!
How Collagen is Reduced Over Time
Collagen is everywhere – it’s in our skin, digestive tract, joints, ligaments, bones, muscles, blood vessels, and teeth to name a few! Basically, it provides structure, support, and flexibility to all our connective tissues. It’s no surprise that it’s named after the Greek word for glue! Collagen is produced naturally in the body, but we can’t hold onto it forever. After the age of 20, we produce about 1 percent less collagen each year. It may seem like a little, but it sure adds up!
Collagen degradation is common with age, but there are other factors that contribute to the speed of collagen loss. These include:
- Sun Exposure: Ultraviolet radiation damages the collagen already in our bodies.
- Smoking: There truly are no benefits to smoking! Tobacco rapidly slows your collagen production and contributes to the common signs of aging such as wrinkles.
- Processed Foods: Processed foods high in carbs and refined sugars can damage collagen and prevent it from repairing itself. The cleaner the food, the better!
- Pollution: Free radicals in polluted air can damage your collagen proteins.
We also lose collagen much more rapidly after menopause. It’s common to lose up to 30% of the skin’s collagen within the first five years of menopause.
Ways Collagen Can Boost your Anti-Aging Routine
The benefits of collagen are shocking! However, don’t be fooled by moisturizers or creams claiming to deposit collagen into the body; collagen molecules are too large to be absorbed by the skin! Instead, look for an oral hydrolyzed collagen supplement that you can add to your coffee.
Oral collagen supplementation has been proven to provide the following anti-aging benefits:
- Increased Skin Elasticity: One of collagen’s biggest claims to fame is that it can strengthen the skin and fight off wrinkles and fine lines. Collagen depletion can “deflate” the skin causing sagging. Inversely, collagen supplements spur more collagen creation within the skin to tighten it back up and prevent future wrinkles from forming! It may even help to prevent and improve the appearance of cellulite.
- Hydrated Skin: Collagen also helps to retain moisture in the skin. In one study, women saw benefits in their skin’s moisture levels after just 8 weeks of collagen supplementation.
- Strengthened Hair and Hair Growth: Collagen has been found to be a more effective hair growth supplement than biotin. This is because collagen supplements strengthen the dermis where the hair follicles are rooted and moisturize the scalp, promoting hair growth and increasing hair strength.
- Decreased Risk of Heart Disease: Arterial stiffness is a major contributor to heart disease. Collagen can be found in the blood vessels and helps to keep them flexible and healthy. With our bodies’ natural decline in collagen, however, the arteries can become stiff and brittle. Studies have shown that collagen contributes to lowering your risk of heart disease by increasing flexibility of the blood vessels and by increasing “good” HDL cholesterol
- Increased Bone Mass: Collagen, a major component of our bones, may also inhibit bone breakdown that causes bone density diseases like osteoporosis.
- Reduced Joint Pain: My least favorite sign of aging is the loss of mobility that comes with joint stiffness and pain. Collagen may not only be able to help manage pain as a result of osteoarthritis, it can also reduce joint pain due to injury. It’s the complete package!
Choosing the Best Collagen Supplement
There are many different types of collagen on the market both in the amount of flavors and sources. All collagen is derived from animal sources. Bovine collagen comes from the hide of cows, marine collagen comes from the skin and scales of fish, and eggshell membrane or chicken collagen comes from, you guessed it, chicken. Marine collagen from wild-caught fish is typically the cleanest and most bioavailable form of collagen on the market. It contains the “big two” anti-aging collagen types, types I and III, and avoids any risk of bovine or bird viruses. Some other pro-tips to keep in mind is that the ingredients list should be a single item, not a laundry list. Flavored collagen products include unnecessary added sugars. Multicollagen formulas often “water down” the highly effective marine collagen with less pure and effective collagen sources. The golden rule, keep it simple!
When it comes to getting collagen from your diet, there aren’t many options. Collagen is found in animal products, but not typically the ones we want to eat – think chicken cartilage and bone marrow. Bone broth soups are a delicious way to include collagen in your diet while using some of the less popular ingredients! You can also eat foods that have collagen-boosting ingredients like vitamin C, glycine, proline, and copper.
What Results Can I Expect to See?
When you start seeing your results depends on a number of things. Collagen is not the only factor that contributes to your age or even a specific symptom. Additionally, results vary depending on your intended benefit. In general, however, you can expect to see results anywhere between 2-8 weeks
Anti-aging routines should not be just skin deep, you have to start at the root! Collagen has little to no side effects and is as easy as adding a scoop to your morning coffee.