Do Collagen Supplements Work for Better Skin? Can you eat or drink your way to better collagen and better skin through supplements? Whether we recommend collagen supplements and if they really work for better skin, are two of the most common question we get from our patients. The grocery stores are inundated with rows of supplements claiming to improve skin health. But how do you decide which is best? Could there be other supplements that can benefit the skin even more?
Where Do Collagen Supplements Go?
By age 30 our body’s collagen production has taken a dramatic turn for the worse as we show the effect of having lost 1-2% a year beginning in our early 20s. What does this mean? As collagen decreases, we notice loss of elasticity resulting in the beginning of fine lines and sagging skin. Consumption of sugary food, alcohol, smoking and of course UV exposure further enhance oxidative stress that destroys collagen even more.
Two of the major concerns when it comes to supplementation is how much of the product is absorbed and how do we ensure it goes where we want it to go, e.g. our skin. While the skin is our largest organ, it ranks at the bottom of the food chain when the body is prioritizing how to allocate its resources. If your joints are shot or your intestines are inflamed the collagen you consumed is going to be used to heal those areas, before improving the skin.
Maximize Collagen Absorption
Just like with skincare, in supplements, the type of product, quality and ingredients greatly influences its effect. One way to improve absorption, the amount of supplement which reaches your blood stream, is through hydrolyzed (drinkable) products. Hydrolyzed supplements skip the digestion process, which pills rely on, as they enter the body already in small fragments ready to be absorbed. The next barrier to overcome is the actual size of the active ingredient in the supplement. Large proteins struggle to enter the intestinal endothelium while smaller peptides enter much easier. When you are in the product aisle searching for your collagen product narrow the products down first by product type. First, consider only the powder formulations. Second, review the labels, read what types of collagen the substance contains. Remember, collagen type 1 is for skin concerns. Third, review whether they are using protein or peptides. Choose peptides to increase the amount of product that can enter your bloodstream and from there your skin.
Does Science Support Collagen Supplementation?
What does the research show regarding the benefits of collagen? As seen frequently in science the jury is still out on collagen supplementation. One recent study using a peptide formulation with as little as 2.5 gm of collagen daily in women showed in just four weeks both hydration and luminosity of the skin improved and line depth and length were reduced. While many studies show benefits in not just the skin but in joints and cardiovascular health, the medical community is not all in favor of collagen supplementation. Several studies show a placebo effect when evaluating collagen supplementation. Either way, the collagen industry and collagen supplements are here to stay. The collagen market is booming and the subject is one that continuously makes its way into both women’s and men’s health and beauty magazines on a monthly basis.
You Are What You Eat
Eating foods rich in Vitamin C and Amino Acids are key to collagen production. When Vitamin C levels are low in the body, collagen production slows Ensure you are filling your body with foods like berries, citrus (limes, lemons, grapefruit), papaya, mango, broccoli and peppers.
Proline is the #1 amino acid needed for collagen production and it is essential for skin elasticity and maintaining skin thickness. Animal studies reveal that diets rich in proline enhanced collagen synthesis and wound healing in mice after an injury from UV irradiation. To make sure that you are getting all the proline your skin needs include foods in your diet that consist of meat, dairy, soy products, asparagus and mushrooms.
Another amino acid, lysine, works with vitamin C to generate collagen production. Lysine is what is considered an “essential” amino acid as the body cannot produce it on its own. We rely 100% on dietary intake to obtain this amino acid. To maximize your vitamin C benefits try increasing your consumption of foods such as fish, eggs, beans, legumes, milk, and certain cheeses are considered good sources for lysine.
A Well-Rounded Approach
The combination of a balanced diet focusing on the foods we’ve highlighted, the addition of some possible supplements and utilization of medical grade skincare is one way to ensure that your skin comes out of quarantine the best it can. If you decided to give collagen supplements a try, let us know what you think.