If you’re a skincare enthusiast, it’s likely that you’ve heard a lot about collagen in recent times. It is, however, not a new discovery. It has simply gained a lot of popularity thanks to easy access to information and lots of marketing.
So what’s the hype all about? Dr. Sravya Tipirneni, Cosmeto-Dermatologist from Columbia Asia, tells us all we need to know about collagen!
What is Collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant form of protein; a glue that holds everything in our body together. It accounts for almost one-third of our body composition! Collagen provides structure to many of our body elements including bones, tendons, ligaments and skin.
The word Collagen is derived from the Greek word ‘kolla’, meaning glue.
There are four types of Collagen present in our body
- Type I: The majority of collagen in our body. It gives structure to your skin, bones, fibrous tissue, fibrous cartilage, connective tissue and even teeth.
- Type II: They are made up of more loosely packed fibre and are found in elastic cartilage that helps cushion our joints.
- Type III: These give structure to muscles, organs and arteries.
- Type IV: Mostly found in skin, this type of collagen helps with filtration
As you can see, collagen is vital for our overall health. And skin being the largest organ, is also affected by it.
- Makes our skin look supple
- Adds elasticity
- Gives a good texture
The more collagen your skin has, the “healthier” it looks.
But if we already have a lot of collagen in our body, why are we often recommended collagen supplements?
The answer, like with most of our health-related issues, is aging.
While collagen is present in our bodies, it reduces both in quantity and quality over time.
This loss of collagen manifests in our skin as visible signs of aging. Our skin looks less supple, appears dehydrated, and becomes less firm. To combat these problems, we need to consume food — and even supplements — that can boost our collagen levels.
How can we increase our body’s collagen naturally?
There are some main nutrients that can help our bodies synthesise collagen:
- Vitamin C: Citrus fruits, strawberries and bell peppers
- Proline: Egg whites, dairy, asparagus and mushrooms
- Glycine: Pork skin, chicken skin and gelatin
- Copper: Sesame seeds, cocoa powder, cashew, lentils and meat
The copper acts as an enzyme to synthesise collagen. However, the final and main ingredient to convert all these nutrients into the protein we know as collagen is high-quality amino acids — which can be derived from meat, bone broth, poultry, sea food, and legumes.
Collagen can be directly found in the connective tissue of animals. So, it’s important to understand that the authentic source of collagen that can boost your body’s collagen directly can only be found in meat, not plants.
Plants only contain collagen builders, but don’t have collagen.
Should you have collagen supplements?
Food should be your first source of collagen before you opt for supplements. But the great thing about collagen is that it has little to no side effects. So if you prefer taking supplements, go for it!
Over-the-counter collagen supplements may not always be the most palatable. But formats like powders that can be mixed with coffee and juice are a lot more easy to consume. There are collagen-infused juices in the market too! The taste and smell is dependent on the formulation and method of consumption.
When you choose your supplement, make sure you understand the source of collagen. The most common collagen supplements are marine- or poultry- derived.
If you are allergic to seafood, make sure you have a test dose to check if the supplement suits you.
But remember, plant-derived supplements are collagen builders, and do not have the same effect as meat-derived collagen. They do not contain collagen but help your body synthesise it. So make sure you read the fine line on your product before buying them.
Busting some common collagen myths
Myth #1 “I will see immediate results in my skin and hair once I up my collagen intake.”
Taking collagen supplements or having more collagen-rich food is more of a protective measure. The amount of collagen you have to take depends on many factors like age and body weight.
You will only see an improvement in your skin texture 2 to 3 months after regular use. Also, remember that collagen boosts your overall health. So you don’t necessarily have to see an improvement in your skin or hair for collagen to be working.
Myth #2 “Plant collagen is better.”
Plants don’t contain collagen because they don’t have connective tissue. So if you want a direct source of collagen, you should be consuming poultry- or marine-based collagen. If you’re averse to seafood, poultry sources are a good alternative. But that’s not to say that plant-based collagen builders are bad or ineffective.
If you are a strict vegetarian, you can always have natural collagen-building food — especially a rich diet that assists enzymes. For supplements, look for collagen builders.
Myth #3 “Collagen supplements cause weight gain.”
Collagen supplements don’t cause weight gain but help you improve your joint, ligaments, and tendons.
The Final Word
Collagen has some great benefits for the skin — it helps improves appearance, texture, wrinkles and fine lines. I usually recommend collagen as a combination alongside anti-aging, lazer, and other machine treatments to delay the signs of aging. It’s great for your overall health too. But before you decide to jump on the collagen supplement bandwagon, make sure you understand why you’re taking them, what your objectives are, and where your collagen is derived from.
Want to speak to an expert about the best supplements for your skin and hair? Click here to book an appointment with a Dermatologist on the cult.fit app.