Collagen: What is It and How Do I Keep It?

If your only knowledge of collagen comes in the form of needles, doctors’ offices and reality TV, it’s time to get wise. Sure, you could pay someone to inject the stuff into your face but there’s a more natural — and dare I say, better — way to get your collagen fill.

What is collagen?

Ahh collagen, the most abundant protein in the body! So abundant in fact, that it makes up nearly 30% of the total protein in your body and 70% of the protein in your skin. It’s the thing that gives your skin its elasticity (collagen is what’s responsible for the structural network for your dermis, the second layer of skin), your hair its strength, your bones their density, you joints their flexibility and your connective tissues the ability to hold everything in place (so, you know, you’re not just a blob of bones squishing across the floor).

It’s found naturally and exclusively in animal tissue (yup, we’re animals), which is cool when we’re young but as we age, our bodies naturally produce less and less of the stuff (about 1% less each year). That means that skin gets less firm and supple, and skin cell renewal slows way down. Stress, gut health, sun exposure, pollutants and diet can also impact the body’s ability to make collagen, so constant SPF and a gut-friendly diet go a long way.

Why you may want to start using collagen…

Ok, so, natural collagen production slows as we get older. That can mean creases and wrinkles start arriving more regularly, pores get bigger as skin becomes less elastic, and things just generally start heading south. It also means that our skin is less able to heal itself quickly and that our bodies naturally have less protein.

How to harness the power of collagen…

A downside of collagen? It can’t be absorbed through the skin — its molecular structure is too big — so topical collagen will sit on the skin and act as a moisturizer. This isn’t a bad thing, but you can get moisture from a lot of other ingredients, so you may want to consider oral hydrolyzed collagen instead, a form of collagen that has smaller, more absorbable molecules.

As you know, what happens on the skin starts from the inside, out, so ingesting collagen benefits your hair, nails and connective tissues as well as your skin. It provides the whole body with the building blocks it needs to create and repair connective tissues, almost like a collagen-kickstart.

When it comes to products, there’s a variety of stuff out there. For our purposes, I’d suggest starting your collagen journey with a powder: they’re easily mixed into smoothies, coffees or juice, the flavor is undetectable, and the molecules are easily broken down and absorbed. Some are made from purified animal extracts, others from fish and marine sources, and still others from yeast extracts. The route you go is a personal preference.

If you prefer a daily cup of bone broth, the benefits are similar. But a scoop of powdered collagen with your breakfast is a whole lot less labor-intensive as far as I’m concerned.

This information is not intended to treat, diagnose or prevent any disease or issue. 
Please seek your doctor’s advice for any questions regarding a specific condition and before beginning any exercise, diet or health-related regimen.

Comments

  1. I’ve used topical collagen for many years. I only heard about the option of injesting it recently. I will definitely try that option as well because I’ve personally seen the great effects it has topically so hoping for great results!
    Great post. Thanks!

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