Those of you who know me personally know I’m skin care obsessed. Those of you who don’t… well, I am. As a self-proclaimed skin care product junkie, I am constantly on the lookout for the latest miracle skin care product that will keep my skin clear, smooth, glowing and all around healthy. And while all the lotions and potions have their place in my skincare routine, at the core of my skin care regimen is a healthy diet. That’s why when collagen supplements became a touted as a mainstay for skin health- I had to do my research! Could this protein powder be the not-so-secret secret to gorgeous skin?
What is collagen?
Collagen is a type of protein naturally found in our bodies. In fact, it is the most abundant protein, making up parts of our bones and tendons, muscles, digestive system, skin, hair, and nails. I’ve often heard it referred to as the super glue that holds our body together. Many types of collagen can be found in our body, with type 1 being the most abundant.
As we age, our collagen production naturally begins to slow down, resulting in aging skin and joint pain. Collagen production can be affected both positively and negatively by lifestyle factors. Smoking, a poor diet, high sugar intake and UV damage can further accelerate collagen losses, while consuming a diet with key nutrients that promote collagen production can help to counterbalance those losses.
Boosting collagen production
When it comes to collagen production the first go to nutrient is Vitamin C. Vitamin C is a vital nutrient for collagen synthesis and studies show that it may even help to protect against UV damage [remember one of those negative factors?]. You can easily find it in your diet in citrus fruit, bell peppers, strawberries, and kiwi.
Proline, hydroxyproline, and glycine are amino acids that are key in the formation of collagen. Ensuring that your body has enough of these building blocks may help to promote efficient collagen production. While our bodies can make these amino acids, consuming foods high in them helps maintain adequate levels. You can find these amino acids in animal products such as eggs, meat, and dairy. Vegetarian sources include cabbage, spinach, soy, and spirulina.
Another way to boost your collagen production may be with collagen supplements. Collagen supplements are essentially protein supplements that are high in glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline, among other amino acids. In supplemental form, we usually see collagen as “hydrolyzed collagen” or “collagen peptides.” This means the collagen has been processed to make it more bioavailable, making it easier for your body to absorb and utilize the proteins. This also allows the collagen to dissolve easily in both hot and cold water. Gelatin is another form of supplemental collagen, but you’ll have to dissolve this in hot water.
Collagen supplements are usually derived from beef or marine sources so these supplements will not be appropriate for vegetarians and vegans. They tend to be type 1 collagen [the type that is most abundant in our bodies].
Collagen supplements have recently taken the market by storm and while the research is still limited, it looks promising for helping improve skin appearance and texture, helping with joint pain, improving atheletic performance and supporting GI health. What I can say from my own personal experience and that of many of my clients is that it does work. It’s not an overnight fix but after a few months of regular use, it seems that just about everyone has been complimenting my skin, and I’ve noticed my hair grows faster and my nails seem stronger.
When choosing a collagen supplement, it’s important to make sure it comes from a high-quality source. For bovine collagen peptides look for sources from organic, grass-fed cows. Marine collagen should be wild caught and non-GMO. Also choose one that doesn’t have any extra ingredients such as sweeteners. Three of my favorite brands are Vital Proteins, Further Food and Bulletproof.
If taking a supplement is not for you, regularly drinking bone broth is a great way to up your intake of collagen. For my vegetarian and vegan friends, while supplementation may not be an option for you, you can still boost your collagen production with foods rich in vitamin C, proline, hydroxyproline and glycine.
For those of you skin care junkies like me, we’ve got a special treat. Ellie and I are offering you a chance to view our Lustrous Skin seminar at a discounted rate. Perfect skin starts from the inside out and in this workshop, we do a deep dive in the foundational foods you need to optimize your skin’s health. Sign up here.
- Collagen: What is it and what are its uses? Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/262881.php. Accessed March 3, 2018.
- Do collagen or hyaluronic acid supplements really help for aging or wrinkled skin? ConsumerLab.com. https://www-consumerlab-com.tcsedsystem.idm.oclc.org/answers/do-collagen-or-hyaluronic-acid-supplements-really-help-for-aging-or-wrinkled-skin/collagen-aging-skin/. Accessed February 13, 2018.
- Dr Jones. L-glycine. amino acid studies. http://aminoacidstudies.org/glycine/. Accessed March 3, 2018.
- Foods highest in Glycine in Vegetables and Vegetable Products. http://nutritiondata.self.com/foods-011094000000000000000.html?maxCount=6. Accessed March 3, 2018.
- Foods highest in Proline in Vegetables and Vegetable Products. http://nutritiondata.self.com/foods-011095000000000000000.html?maxCount=25. Accessed March 3, 2018.
- Jones D. L-proline. amino acid studies. http://aminoacidstudies.org/l-proline/. Accessed March 3, 2018.
- Varani J, Dame MK, Rittie L, et al. Decreased Collagen Production in Chronologically Aged Skin. Am J Pathol. 2006;168(6):1861-1868. doi:10.2353/ajpath.2006.051302.
- Vitamin C and Skin Health. Linus Pauling Institute. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/health-disease/skin-health/vitamin-C. Published November 7, 2016. Accessed March 3, 2018.
- What is Collagen? Everything You Need To Know About Collagen. Furth Food. December 2017. https://www.furtherfood.com/collagen/. Accessed March 3, 2018.
- Why Collagen Can Benefit You. Vital Proteins. https://www.vitalproteins.com/pages/why-collagen. Accessed March 3, 2018.