You may have noticed an ingredient called collagen in many skin care products, especially in products dedicated to anti-aging, but you may not know how important its role is in tissues throughout the body. Collagen is an essential protein found naturally in the human body. It is found in our skin, bones, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons. It is responsible for keeping the skin elastic, replacing dead skin cells, as well as making your hair and nails shiny and strong.
How Does Collagen Play a Role in Aging?
The collagen in your body is produced naturally by cells in your skin, but it will begin to decline as you age. This is not always preventable, but by supplementing the loss with outside sources of collagen, you are able to help reduce wrinkles and slow down the signs of aging.
Can Collagen Production Be Increased as We Age?
There are two main ways you can try to combat collagen loss; topical creams and oral supplementation along with consuming collagen-boosting foods. Targeting the problem from the inside has been proven to be the most effective. Collagen supplements are easily accessible and can be found at many drugstores. The collagen in these supplements is solely derived from animals. Specifically, the skin, bone, and cartilage of cows, chickens, and fish. If you prefer a more vegan or natural route you can consume foods that naturally boost collagen production.
Natural “collagen boosters” have the ability to encourage the cells in your body to make more collagen. These plant-based foods contain the building blocks for collagen such as amino acids and Vitamin C. A few of these collagen boosters include blueberries, dark leafy greens (such as spinach and kale), garlic, eggs, mango, carrots, and white tea. Vitamin C is also necessary to enhance collagen production. You can take vitamin c supplements or consume foods rich in vitamin c, such as broccoli and citrus fruit.
What Age Should We Start Supplementing?
It is never too early to begin taking supplements. Many people will wait until they notice wrinkles and loss of elasticity in their skin to begin collagen supplementation, but it is a good idea to get a head start before this occurs in order to slow down any signs of aging.
Aging plays the biggest role in the loss of collagen however, you should also be wary of other factors that can harm collagen production. Sun damage, smoking, chronic stress, and poor diet can speed up the aging process of the skin. If you are frequently exposed to any of these factors collagen supplementation may be even more essential.