Chances are you might have heard about collagen and some of the supposed benefits, but you might not know what it actually is and what it does, so let’s talk about it!
Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies, making up between 25-35% of our protein composition. It is one of the most vital proteins and has an important structural role as it helps to strengthen our skin, bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments. Collagen has also gathered quite a lot of attention due to its supposed impact on skincare, but let’s look at collagen’s role in a bit more detail.
What does it do?
The function of collagen is fairly varied as there are actually at least 16 types of collagen, which all have a different role within the body. The four main types which have the most significant impact are types I, II, III and IV.
- Type I makes up 90% of your collagen levels and its role is to provide structural support for your skin, bones, teeth, tendons, cartilage, connective tissue and teeth.
- Type II is found in elastic cartilage and helps to support your joints.
- Type III supports your muscles, arteries and organs.
- Type IV is found within the layers of your skin and helps with filtration.
As there are so many different types of collagen, it’s role within the body is varied and it has multiple benefits. The most well-known benefit of collagen, however, is its ability to strengthen skin.
What affects collagen levels?
A number of different nutrients are known to help your body produce more collagen. One of the most important is vitamin C, which can be found in different fruits and vegetables. Other nutrients which help your body to produce more collagen include glycine, proline and copper. The best way of getting these nutrients comes from mainly eating meat, poultry and seafood.
There are also certain factors that can negatively affect your body’s level of collagen. Smoking and over exposure to the sun are known to damage your level of collagen production. Eating too many refined carbs and too much sugar can have a negative impact on your collagen’s ability to repair itself, so it’s best to avoid these types of foods if you are trying to improve the health and elasticity of your skin.
One interesting fact about collagen is that the more you have and maintain in your body, the more you are able to produce. Thankfully, there are ways you can improve your collagen levels. Of course, eating foods containing the nutrients that affect collagen production is one way. Using certain skin products is also said to be able to boost collagen production. Studies have suggested that aloe vera gel can help increase collagen production when applied directly to skin or when taken through supplements. Other skin creams also contain collagen such as MIKKA Collagen Day Cream which contains a hydrolysed version of collagen.
Is it Worth the Hype?
Collagen has been touted as a kind of ‘magic’ cure for anti-aging and joint health in recent times and whilst this is of course an exaggerated claim, collagen does have significant benefits. There is still further research that needs to be done regarding the direct impact of collagen infused products, but it is understandable why collagen products are so popular considering the beneficial properties of the protein and the fact our bodies ability to produce collagen starts to decrease from as young as your early 20's.