What is Collagen?
We hear this word all the time, including in our own product descriptions. We know it’s good for you and good for the skin. But what exactly is it?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body. It’s found in your skin, teeth, hair, nails, muscles, and even in your digestive system. The word itself derives from the Greek term “kolla” which means glue. This essential protein is what holds things together including your skin.
As we age is that our bodies begin to produce less of this vital substance. As a result, our skin loses its elasticity and moisture. If you’ve noticed more wrinkles or fine lines on your skin, this is a result of diminished collagen production.
Women are especially susceptible to producing less of it as they age. After menopause, the body drastically reduces its reserves. There are also lifestyle factors that affect production like spending too much time under the sun. Sun exposure reduces collagen production due to the ultraviolet rays. We also know that sun exposure can lead to other problems like spots, wrinkles, and other skin issues.
Other lifestyle factors that affect collagen production are smoking and eating a diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates.
So why is it good for you?
We know that the skincare industry likes to throw the word around a lot, so it’s a vital component for skin health
There are 4 types of collagen but Type I makes up 80-90% of this protein in our bodies. Type I is what holds our skin together and keeps it looking young and firm. The other types can be found in the organs as well as hair and nails. But what all forms of collagen have in common is that they hold things in place.
Another concern as we age is that joint health begins to deteriorate. Collagen helps to maintain cartilage which acts as a natural cushion between your joints. When the body has less cartilage, problems like arthritis and joint pain begin to emerge.
Increasing collagen levels in your body can help prevent, or at the very least, delay a lot of age-related issues. Whether it’s by the foods you eat or through a nutritional supplement, making sure that you’re giving your body enough of this essential protein is a great way ensure you’re giving your skin, joints, and other parts of your body the best chance at “holding things in place.”
How to Get more of it
Collagen-rich foods usually come from animal sources, with one of the popular remedies being bone broth. However, there are many non-animal food sources that help to increase your levels. Foods high in Vitamin C like lemons and oranges contain amino acids, lysine, and proline, that convert to collagen. Red vegetables like peppers contain lycopene which works like a natural sunblock that protects the skin against sun damage. At the same time, it helps with increasing the body’s reserves. On top of being a good source of protein, egg whites help your body to produce collagen. Like citrus foods, egg whites are high in lysine, proline, and collagen itself. However, if you choose not to eat animal products you can opt for nuts which are also high in lysine.
Other sources that help support production are green leafy vegetables, berries, and soy. If you’re not sure whether you’re getting enough collagen in your diet then supplements are a great way to make sure you’re getting enough of it.