Look anywhere and you are likely to be bombarded by advertisements and endorsements for collagen supplements that promise to reverse the clock on your appearance and give you the same youthful radiance as Hollywood A-listers.
These supplements, from powder to pills, have been touted by many as the mythical-incarnate of an elixir of life and the fountain of youth. But do they actually live up to the hype?
Collagen, The Glue That Holds Them All
Collagen is a protein found abundantly in the body and is a big component of our hair, skin and nails, all of which are hot topics in the beauty scene. As such, paying attention to collagen production cannot be neglected for those who desire to exude a youthful, radiant and healthy glow.
A polypeptide, collagen contains amino acids such as proline and glycine that makes up connective tissues like tendons and ligaments, skin, cartilage and bone. Our bodies actually are able to synthesise collagen naturally, and if your diet is well-balanced, you do not need to supplement your intake with collagen pills or powder. So is it all for naught? Well, that depends.
The Body & Collagen
Collagen is not absorbed whole; it is broken down during digestion into basic proteins called amino acids that are then distributed to areas our bodies need them the most. The belief that taking collagen supplements can directly promote bone formation and beautiful skin or hair is misguided. However, taking such supplements can stimulate the body to synthesise more by making amino acids more available.
The Skin & Collagen
Before you head out to buy the latest collagen product, be it a pill or a topical lotion, take note that there is very little credible research done on their efficacy at the moment. Because of this, experts are still undecided if these products actually carry any meaningful benefit to women who already include a healthy amount of protein from sources like fish, chicken, nuts, eggs and dairy in their diet.
Out of the available data, a study found that women who regularly took collagen, albeit in its peptide form, for eight weeks saw a significant reduction in wrinkles.
The Hair & Collagen
As you grow older, the amount of collagen in your body drops and the rate of collagen synthesis declines. According to research, collagen has shown that it can promote hair production and maintenance, thereby preventing hair loss and encouraging hair growth. It can also slow down greying by ensuring the health of the hair follicle, where the pigment is made.
In addition, it was shown that collagen supplements are very effective in treating dry and brittle hair by helping to maintain moisture in the hair.
Your Diet, Lifestyle & Collagen
But do not just pop collagen as though you are eating candy. To make sure you get the full suite of skin-boosting benefits, you have to consume healthy amounts of vitamin C as well, since it is important in the synthesis of collagen. Foods like cabbage, warm-hued fruits and vegetables are foods you should eat more of.
The body’s natural production of collagen declines as you age or experience negative lifestyle factors such as stress, poor diet, lack of sleep or overexposure to UV sources.
Not All Collagen Are The Same
Like many things are, there are different kinds of collagen. There is Type 1 collagen that makes up for 90 per cent of skin, nails, hair, bones, organs, and ligaments. Type 2 collagen which is associated with cartilage production and maintenance, while Type 3 collagen deals with a kind of fibrous protein in bones, cartilages, tendons, dentin and other connective tissues.
Sources To Getting Collagen
A single collagen pill can contain up to 1g of collagen and can be combined with various types of collagen and vitamin C to help you ensure your body have sufficient to work with. In addition to pills, you can also find collagen in powder and liquid forms. For vegetarians or vegans, there are plant-based supplements that can contain amino acids, extracts of wheat and vitamins. For those who embrace the animal products, fish, cows, pigs and chicken are great sources, although the ligaments, tendons, skin and bones contain the highest concentration of collagen; making a stew or soup with these will help extract collagen out of them.
Avoid These In Supplements
While having benefits to the human body on their own, ingredients like CoQ10, arginine and glucosamine should be avoided in collagen supplements, since they do not offer a lot of low value and can only jack up the cost of your supplements.
Avoid also supplements filled with needless fillers like maltodextrin, oils, flavours or sugars, and other artificial ingredients. You may not need possible added ingredients like branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), used for recovering from muscle trauma and soreness, such as through exercise, if you are already eating a balanced diet.