7 Ways To Really Boost Your Collagen!

aging collagen collagen loss skin sagging Sep 25, 2023

Collagen is definitely a buzz word these days! Whether it's in beverages, food items, supplements, or skincare products, marketers are taking advantage of the current fascination with this skin-rejuvenating phenomenon. But the big question remains: Do these collagen products actually deliver on their promises? Can they genuinely enhance your collagen levels?

Let's start with the facts!

Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies and a key component in our internal organs. Collagen helps support our skin, joints, cartilage, blood vessels, teeth, eyes, and more! Although there are numerous collagen types, collagen types 1, 2, and 3 take the spotlight as the primary ones. In our skin, collagen 1 is most predominant. 

So, what exactly is collagen made of?

Collagen is made up of amino acids that create collagen. Think of amino acids as tiny building blocks that assemble into a triple helix formation, giving collagen its distinct shape. Co-factors for this process include vitamin C, zinc, copper, and manganese. Here's the not-so-great news: our collagen production declines with age, which is why we notice our joints getting stiffer and our skin sagging. This is the reason why people actively seek ways to boost their collagen levels and compensate for what's naturally lost over time. Let's break it down further.

What makes us lose collagen:

  1. Age

The natural aging process impacts our collagen production significantly. Surprisingly, this decline begins as early as the age of 25, and for some women, menopause can accelerate this decline by up to 30%.

  1. Diet

A diet lacking essential amino acids from fruits, lean protein and vegetables causes a deficiency in key ingredients in collagen production.This shortage can hinder collagen production, resulting in lower collagen levels. Moreover, excessive sugars and refined carbohydrates can harm collagen by creating advanced glycation end products (AGEs), making your collagen less flexible and less able to support your body effectively.

  1. Sunlight

UV radiation from the sun is a big factor in collagen depletion. If you've seen someone who spends a lot of time in the sun, you might notice they have more wrinkles and look older than they should. That's because UV rays break down collagen using something called matrix metalloproteinase, which leads to early aging by reducing collagen levels.

  1. Smoking

Smoking is bad for many reasons, including how it impacts your skin. When you smoke, your skin gets less oxygen, which makes it harder for your body to repair and grow new skin. This can result in premature aging, with less collagen and elastin to keep your skin firm and elastic.

  1. Hormones

Collagen production can be influenced by hormonal changes, particularly a decrease in estrogen levels. This decline can accelerate the visible signs of aging, including wrinkles and sagging skin. Hormone replacement therapy can be beneficial for some individuals. 

  1. Medical Conditions

Autoimmune conditions like lupus, dermatomyositis, scleroderma, and others can also weaken collagen by attacking one's own collagen. Other genetic conditions like Ehlers-Danlos and Osteogenesis Imperfecta have abnormal collagen formation due to genetic mutations. 

So what can we do? Let's break it down!

Collagen in supplements:

Can taking a supplement or consuming collagen-fortified foods really boost your skin's collagen production? The truth is, we're not entirely sure. That's because there's a lack of randomized controlled trials studying collagen supplements. While some smaller studies have suggested subjective improvements in skin hydration and wrinkle reduction, it remains unclear whether these benefits are directly related to the collagen supplement. When you ingest collagen, your body breaks it down into amino acids, and there isn't a direct way for these amino acids to reach the skin and contribute to collagen formation there. It's possible that they may have a positive impact on other collagen-rich areas in the body, potentially improving joint pain and functionality. However, at present, the data is unclear. 

It's important to exercise caution with supplements because they are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Unlike medications, supplements do not require rigorous research and data, and supplement companies are not held to the same stringent standards. So, just because it says something on the label, buyer beware; it is not required to be safe, efficacious, or even truthful in their advertising.

Collagen in skin care products:

Unfortunately collagen is too large of a molecule to penetrate through the top layer of the skin, known as the epidermis, and reach the deeper layer called the dermis where collagen production occurs.When people use these products, they may feel like they have fewer fine lines and wrinkles but this may be from the fact that they are using a moisturizer base which helps hold fluid in the skin and makes the skin appear plumper. So, while it may seem like the fine lines are diminishing, it's important to recognize that this is often due to improved hydration rather than a direct increase in collagen.

Instead try these steps for boosting collagen:

  1. Balanced diet: A Mediterranean diet is highly recommended for collagen health, and it happens to be not only nutritious but also incredibly delicious.
  2. Sun protection: Shielding your skin from harmful UV rays is a key step in collagen preservation. Wear sunscreen with broad-spectrum protection, cover up with clothing and a hat, and seek shade during peak sun hours.
  3. No smoking: Smoking narrows blood vessels, reducing oxygen flow to the skin and impairing collagen production. Quitting smoking is one of the best gifts you can give your skin and overall health.
  4. Build muscle/exercise: Strong muscles support your skin's structure, helping it appear firm and youthful. Exercise also boosts blood circulation, delivering nutrients and oxygen to your skin, which is essential for collagen synthesis.
  5. Get enough sleep: Quality sleep is essential for the body's natural repair processes, including collagen production. Aim for 7-9 hours of restorative sleep each night to support overall skin health.
  6. Topical products: retinols/retinoids, Vitamin C, peptides: Topical products containing retinols or retinoids are known for their collagen-boosting properties. These ingredients can help stimulate collagen production and improve skin texture. 
  7. In office procedures: Beyond topical products, there are in-office procedures available that can directly impact collagen production and skin rejuvenation. These procedures provide more intensive and immediate collagen-boosting results compared to topical products.

By incorporating these steps into your routine, you can support collagen production. Remember that individual results may vary, so It's important to consult with a board-certified dermatologist to determine the most suitable approach based on your skin goals and preferences.

Get ready for an exciting podcast episode this week, where I talk about all things collagen, from its role in the body to ways to boost its production!

A new podcast episode drops every Monday!



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