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Does your skin need more “glue”? The types and benefits of collagen.

Are you starting to notice more wrinkles? Are your joints getting stiff and achy? Is your skin getting thin and starting to sag? Is your hair and nails unhealthy? These are all manifestations of low collagen production in your body. Collagen is considered the “glue” that helps keep our skin plump and full as well as our tendons, ligaments and bones healthy.

Collagen is actually a protein, one of the most abundant, in the human body. We produce it with the help of some of our amino acids such as proline, glycine, hydroxyproline and arginine. But as we age collagen production slows down and with that can come wrinkles, sagging skin and achy muscles and joints.

Collagen has many more important functions in the body such as helping to protect structures like our skin from pathogenic organisms and even cancer cells. It also plays a role in keeping our blood vessels, digestive tract and organs strong and healthy.

There are many types of collagen in the body but there are three that make up the majority and those are Type I, Type II and Type III.

Type I collagen fibrils have enormous strength and can be stretched without breaking. Type I is found mostly in the tendons, ligaments, skin, bone, and teeth.

Type II is the major collagen in cartilage which allows joints to absorb shocks.

Type III is common in fast-growing tissue such as wound repair and skin and blood vessels. During childhood, the skin has a lot of type III and is partly responsible for the softness of the young skin. As growth slows down, the skin content of type III collagen declines, while that of type I increases.

Collagen continues to build in skin until about the age of 35 and then begins to decline and by the age of 60, all types of collagen are significantly below their levels in youth. Collagen can also be damaged by UV rays, free radicals, impaired glucose metabolism, smoking and other lifestyle factors. This damage and the natural decline from aging distorts its structure leading to poor skin texture and wrinkles.

In order for collagen to be productive in the body, it needs vitamin C. Taking Vitamin C along with a collagen supplement is very important. A topical Vitamin C has been shown to stimulate both types I and III collagen in the skin.

There are many collagen supplements on the market with most containing Type I and Type III, the most noted for the health of skin, hair and nails. Quite a few have added Vitamin C. Some of my favorites are Dr’s Best Collagen powder and Neocell Beauty Infusion. The Neocell Beauty Infusion not only has 6,000 mg of collagen but also contains 3,000 mg of biotin, vitamin C and hyaluronic acid to help with skin moisture and plumpness.

Some companies will also take the collagen supplement one step further by breaking down the collagen into peptides. These hydrolyzed collagen peptides are much smaller than regular collagen molecules and are rapidly absorbed by the body. Studies have shown these collagen peptides reduce wrinkle depth, improve skin elasticity and plump the skin. My choice for the collagen peptides would be AminoSculpt liquid collagen.

Regardless, if you’re over the age of 40 and are concerned with your skin texture, wrinkles, healthy hair, nails and joint health then you should consider adding a collagen supplement to your regimen.

Yours in health,
Brenda Valen, BS, CNC, CNHP Gulf Coast Nutrition