The world of collagen supplements has blown up over the past few years with people wanting to support the health of their joints, hair and particularly skin, so I’m constantly being asked in clinic if they actually work? How they work? and if they’re even good for us? So, lets dig into the world of collagen, collagen supplements and the different market offerings, in this blog.
“Firstly, I think the most important statement to make is that YOU CANNOT CONSUME COLLAGEN.”
By this, I mean you cannot consume another animal or organism’s collagen and then automatically have more collagen of your own, within your body. New collagen, along with all other proteins in our bodies, need to be grown, produced and they need the right environment and nutrients to do so. So, this is what supplements offer, nutrition.
Let’s briefly discuss the basics about collagen….
Collagen is a structural protein created naturally within us, it’s the most abundant protein in all animals and it creates the framework of our cells and tissues. Around 90% of all our collagen is Type 1 collagen, which is the most coveted when addressing premature and healthy skin ageing. Type 1 collagen is the juicy, gorgeous collagen you can feel in a baby’s beautiful new skin.
Collagen is composed mainly of amino acids and is found in all connective tissue, tendons, bones and cartilage. Connective tissue cells called fibroblasts are responsible for producing and maintaining collagen within the body, as we age collagen essentially breaks down, with the fibroblast function becoming impaired and resulting in production slowing down. These changes, along with the loss of elastin, another structural protein, lead to ageing skin with visible signs of sagging and wrinkles.
We lose about 1% of our body’s collagen stocks a year from the age of 25 onwards, with other internal and external environmental issues speeding this up and therefore speeding up the ageing process. For example, smoking, excessive sugar consumption and sun exposure amongst other things, all negatively effect and degrade our collagen stocks.
Collagen supplements have been created in order to sustain and improve our own collagen and collagen production and are now hugely marketed as a ‘skin health must have’. They can be purchased in capsule, powder and liquid forms and the core ingredient is a form of collagen sourced from animal, fish and marine stocks, most commonly.
There is not a lot of official, in depth, scientific research on collagen supplements currently available, but what research does show is that the body may absorb the ‘Hydrolysed Collagen’ form most efficiently. However, essentially all forms of collagen consumed are broken down into amino acids during digestion and these amino acids may then be used to help build collagen or other proteins within the body. You can get a lot of amino acids from consuming a healthy rounded diet, but as with all nutrients, our skin is one of the last organs to benefit so providing them in abundance aims to help secure some goodness for the skin, somewhere along the line.
The proposed benefits of taking a ‘collagen supplement’ in terms of skin health are:
- Improved hydration
- Reduced fine line and wrinkles
- Enhanced skin quality and condition
Research papers and client reviews show varying results and this is why, thus far, the skin & beauty industry is torn on the subject of collagen supplements and their benefits as a whole. Although some results are promising, more research is needed to determine the efficacy of collagen supplements for skin health in particular. Collagen and other protein production and formation is a complex process and so a synergy of nutrients must be supplied, consuming amino acids alone will not necessarily make any change or difference to the bodies conditioning.
“Vitamin C for example is vital in the creation of strong, healthy collagen and it’s also worth noting that no amount of amino acid consumption will out do an unhealthy diet or lifestyle.”
Are collagen supplements safe to consume?
Generally, yes collagen supplements are safe to consume when purchased from a registered retailer and taken as directed. Many are sourced from animal and fish sources so would not be suitable for vegetarians or vegans although, marine collagen is available. There have been reports of mild side effects such a nausea, upset stomach and diarrhoea but to our knowledge these are rare. Allergen data must be checked prior to consumption.
What is the alternative to collagen supplements?
The alternative to consuming actual collagen is consuming a healthy balanced diet (of course) and/or supplementing with a varied blend of synergistic skin health supplements, which are scientifically proven to obtain results and create physical change on/within the skin. Collagen (amino acids) can be consumed from foods such as: chicken, chicken skin, fish & fish skin, egg whites, citrus fruits, berries, red & yellow vegetables, leafy greens, cashews, tomatoes, bell peppers, beans, avocados and garlic.
It is not necessary to consume collagen supplements in order to both protect and regenerate our own collagen, naturally. We must firstly look at what we’re doing to protect our collagen stocks and avoid premature ageing, this includes not smoking, reducing our sugar & processed food consumption, reducing stress and offsetting its effects and adequately protecting our skin from the sun, every day. Secondly, we must consider how best to support our bodies nutritionally and in abundance in order to ensure our skin is taken care of adequately.
The Advanced Nutrition Programme, whom we work with in partnership at SIRENS Skin & Beauty (Crawley Down), create high quality supplements with scientific research to prove their efficacy, which are specifically designed to obtain optimum skin health. Of course, the whole body sees the benefit, but with their synergistic blends we can offer the skin everything it needs to protect its collagen stocks, slowing degeneration and also stimulating new healthy, strong collagen production.
If collagen growth, protection and stability are what you’re looking for, they offer the SKIN COLLAGEN SYNERGY PACK – this is a 28 day supply of synergistic supplements. In each daily pod you are offered 1x SKIN VITALITY, 1x SKIN VIT C and 2x SKIN COLLAGEN SUPPORT capsules.
As a baseline supplement we always recommend taking SKIN VITALITY first. This is a broad-spectrum multi-vitamin offering 28 essential nutrients for overall skin and body health and well-being.
SKIN VIT C is a potent 500mg vitamin c formulation taken in order to aid vascular activity, reduce pigmentation, aid hydration but most importantly(!) vitally aid the creation of strong, healthy, resilient collagen. It also includes zinc for added anti-oxidant protection.
SKIN COLLAGEN SUPPPORT -harnessing the synergy of five ingredients, this formula helps to build and safeguard collagen helping to maintain levels for supple, younger-looking skin. This clever cocktail of vitamin C, zinc, MSM, grapeseed extract and melon concentrate has over 150 studies attributed to the effectiveness of these ingredients on the skin.
If you really want to harness optimum skin health then ensuring the health of the gut is also paramount. The new BUZZ WORD in the skin & beauty industry is MICRO-BIOME, which relates to healthy bacterial balance on the skin and within the gut. It’s becoming more and more apparent that the health of the gut in particular is vital when it comes to overall health, immunity and cell function and of course a healthy gut will get you the best absorption of any other nutrient consumed, in any form, so if you’re considering investing in supplementation, Probiotics are a highly recommended partner. Check out SKIN YOUTH BIOME
For more information on this, other supplements or anything beauty and skincare related please feel free to GET IN TOUCH.