Collagen Supplements: Fountain of youth or false hope?
The quest for eternal youth often revolves around keeping the largest organ of our body smooth and supple – our skin. One way some individuals have resorted combatting the effects of aging skin is to rely on taking collagen supplements. But, just how reliable are these supplements? Can taking a collagen supplement really help reduce wrinkles, sagging and overall shallowness our skin may experience over the years?
What is collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body found in connective tissues. It is distributed in our bones, muscles, skin, teeth, nails, hair, and tendons and is in essence, what holds our skin together. It supports the strength of connective tissue and gives skin its structural stability. Made from amino acids – the building blocks of protein – we obtain collagen either through what we consume through food or what our body naturally makes.
As we age, beginning around age 40, the body’s natural collagen productions begins to decline at about one percent per year. The inner layers of our skin will begin to lose collagen resulting in it becoming less supple and firm and more vulnerable to damage. Other contributors that age our skin also include sun damage, smoking, exposure to pollution, and weight fluctuations, all which further diminish collagen production.
The first signs of aging in our skin can be spotted by facial lines, sagging and wrinkles not only on the face but also on the neck.
The combination of the effects of aging and a decline in collagen quantity and quality, are main reasons why our skin thins, develops lines and wrinkles and why nails become brittle.
This is where some people will attempt to restore collagen by taking a collagen supplement. Collagen supplements can be found as capsules, tablets, and powders. There are also collagen injections used for minimizing scars and smoothing out lines, or to plump up thinning lips. These work as temporary fillers until the body absorbs the collagen from the skin. The anti-aging effects of these procedures may only last a few months and therefore require repeat treatments to maintain results.
Can collagen supplements lead to youthful skin?
Despite claims that collagen supplements can restore collagen, firm up your skin and fight age-related damage, few studies have tested the effects of collagen supplements on skin and health.
Taking a supplement may work to a minor degree although they are unlikely to make a significant difference. Dermatologists are mixed on their opinions on collagen supplements. They do recommend that any collagen supplement one may try should be backed up by positive results from a scientific study that was published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
There are actually many good skin care products that a dermatologist or skin esthetician can recommend. Keep in mind most skin care lines can take up to six months of regular use to see any difference and up to a year for best results.
At this time, taking a collagen supplement will most likely not result in any dramatic differences in skin health. Be aware that some collagen products have been recalled by the FDA because of false claims.
Collagen supplements have not been tested for safety of use in women who are pregnant, nursing or for children or for anyone with medical conditions or who are taking medications.
If you still are considering using a collagen supplement for anti-aging purposes, talk with your primary care physician for their advice.
Best ways to keep skin young-looking without collagen supplements
· Wash your face regularly and always take off makeup every night
· Put on moisturizer every day
· Regularly exfoliate to remove dead skin cells and debris that can settle on your pores
· Avoid or limit sun exposure. Wear a hat and cover up when in the sun and always wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 year round.
· Eat a skin-friendly diet focusing on fruits and vegetables rich in vitamins A and C. Cut processed carbohydrates (sugary foods and beverages) and choose healthy fats such as olive oil, nuts, and salmon.
· Drink plenty of water – between 8-10 cups for women and 9-12 cups for men
· Manage stress as uncontrolled stress makes your skin prone to tension