November 16, 2021
One of the questions we often hear people asking is, do collagen supplements really work, since they can’t go straight to the skin? Well, there was certainly a lack of evidence in the past. However, with technological breakthroughs and more and more clinical studies performed on this particular subject in recent years, collagen supplements have been shown to indeed improve skin quality and appearance, as well as hair, nails, joints, and so much more for your overall health. Today, we will break it down scientifically for you. (Note: All benefits mentioned below are supported by results from various clinical trials.)
What are the first things that come into mind when you hear the word ‘collagen’? Wrinkles, skin aging, sagging skin, and loss of elasticity? Whilst collagen is a big part of youthful skin, it is much more than that——it is the key to healthy hair, the reason for strong nails, the major player in building and maintaining connective tissues all over the body, the main ingredient that makes up articular cartilage that covers the ends of bones at the joints and allows them to move smoothly against one another, the conduction of piezoelectricity that facilitates cell communication, and the glue that holds your body together.
Collagen, one of the major structural protein and building blocks in the body, makes up one-third of the protein in the human body. There are at least 16 different types of collagen within the body, but 80 – 90 % of them are types I, II, and III with type I found majorly in the skin, tendons, and bones, type II in cartilage, and type III in the muscles. Now, all of them have slightly different roles but serve the same purpose——to provide strength and structure for not only the skin, but also hair, nails, bones, tendons, muscles, ligaments, connective tissues, and blood vessels.
Nevertheless, the body produces less collagen and of lower quality as we age, whilst UV-rays, environmental factors, free radicals, and many of our daily habits accelerate the breakdown of existing collagen. The skin, in particular, is made up of 75% collagen, but after the age of 25, collagen synthesis reduces at a rate of 1.5% a year. At the age of 45, your collagen levels may have fallen by as much as 30%, and around the 60-year mark, we stop producing collagen totally.
Now, certain skincare ingredients can protect the collagen from breaking down, and others such as retinol and vitamin C can stimulate collagen synthesis, which scientific studies have shown can take anywhere from 4 to 24 weeks. However, as mentioned above, the skin is not the only body part that needs collagen. Our whole body does, including our hair, nails, joints, and muscles, and especially the gut, as it has a big impact on our overall health, immunity system, and the appearance and quality of the skin.
Using topical collagen-boosting skincare only is therefore insufficient.
Collagen is the most abundant component of the extracellular matrix, and is the decisive protein that determines skin appearance by maintaining the skin structure and enabling its numerous functions to take place. Unfortunately, as explained above, we synthesis less collagen with age, and eventually stop producing it at all. Here is the good news, studies have shown this age-dependent reduction in collagen synthesis can be reversed by ingesting high quality collagen, which are metabolized to bioactive di- and tri-peptides in the gastrointestinal tract, and then released into the blood stream and accumulated in the skin to form new collagen, increase hyaluronic acid synthesis, and promote the production of other proteins that help structure the skin, including elastin and fibrillin, thereby plumping skin, preventing wrinkles, sagging, dryness, and increasing elasticity.
In one randomized, placebo-controlled 12-week clinical trial, it has been confirmed that objective dermatological measurements, such as cutometry and corneometry, have proven that oral collagen peptides, can reach deeper layers of the skin and sustainably improve skin physiology and appearance, including skin hydration, elasticity, roughness, and density after three months of intake. The study participants, in their subjective assessments, also concluded that their skin appearance had significantly improved without any side effects.
Another clinical research, which positively demonstrated collagen supplements’ impact on the skin cell’s ability to produce collagen fibers and hyaluronic acid, showed that the fragmentation of collagen in the deep layer of the dermis by significantly decreased by 18% after 4 weeks and as much as 31% after 12 weeks of intake. They also significantly increased the density of collagen in the dermis by +9% after 4 weeks of intake, and skin hydration increased by an astonishing 28%, resulting in a significant increase in skin elasticity and hydration, and reduction in wrinkle depth.
A double-blind, placebo-controlled study with 64 participants that lasted 12 weeks, also showed that skin-hydration values of the group that ingested collagen supplement once daily were significantly higher compared with the placebo group. Visual assessment score, three parameters of skin wrinkling, as well as skin elasticity were also significantly improved.
Several other studies have also shown that collagen supplements, in particular those derived from marine life, significantly increased collagen in the skin, improved skin elasticity, reduced wrinkles, decreased skin dryness, and ultimately reduced signs of skin aging.
Type I collagen is usually considered best for the skin. It is the most abundant type of collagen in the body and maintains healthy bones, skin, hair and nails. Because it is so prevalent in the connective tissues, the decrease of type I collagen results in characteristics such as sagging skin, fine lines, brittle nails and thinning hair. Out of all the different collagen supplements, marine collagen contains the highest quantity of bioavailable type I collagen. Marine collagen also has the smallest particle size and lowest molecular weight among all types of collagen and is absorbed up to 1.5 times more efficiently than other types. It is also rich in 8 out of 9 essential amino acids that are building blocks for collagen, including glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline——while proline is important for hair, hydroxyproline is most effective at creating collagen because it does not get completely broken down further and can go straight to the skin with your blood, and guess what,marine collagen contains a higher concentration of this amino acid over and above other types of collagen.
The skin is a great barometer of what is going on inside the body. More and more studies are showing that where there is gut inflammation, there will be skin inflammation. In fact, people with acne and rosacea are ten times more likely to have gut issues, and 34% of those with irritable bowel syndrome also have various skin conditions.
But how does the gut get inflamed?
Our digestive system has outer walls that act as barriers to the rest of the body - keeping certain toxins, harmful substances, food particles and other substances out of the bloodstream and away from the rest of the body. The problem is, these walls are very thin, and when we ingest certain foods that our bodies do not respond to well, these cell membranes can become ruptured, broken, and damaged, gaps begin to appear in the digestive wall, and substances from within the digestive system start to migrate into the body. Since they are not meant to be there, the body then treats them as foreign invaders and turns on an inflammatory response, which then manifests into inflammatory skin conditions like acne, rashes, redness, eczema, rosacea, and dermatitis.
As mentioned above, collagen is a key player in building and maintaining connective tissues all over the body, including all of the connective tissue that makes up the entire digestive system. By ingesting collagen supplements, the amino acids can help digestive system restore damaged cells, and close these gaps within the damaged gut lining. They can also strengthen the tract and increase the elasticity of the junctures and cells, which means that the area can be more flexible to movement and substances that come into contact with it, thereby reducing the chance of damage. When the gut is strengthened, the body will less likely turn its inflammatory response into overdrive, and thus less skin inflammatory issues.
Firstly, hair is mostly made up of a protein called keratin, which is synthesized by the body using amino acid, particularly, proline. As the collagen supplement enters the body, it gets broken down into amino acids, including glycine, hydroxyproline and proline, that are then used to build new proteins. This gives the body the fuel it needs for the hair, whether it is hair regrowth, or speeding up the growing process.
Secondly, studies have shown that free radicals, derived from UV-rays, pollution, stress, poor diet, alcohol, and other environmental factors, can damage hair follicles especially as we age, causing hair loss and slow growth. Collagen, especially from wild-caught fish scales, acts as an antioxidant that fights and neutralizes free radicals, thereby protecting and promoting healthy hair follicles. One study found that marine collagen was able to fight four different free radicals, while another study observed that it may be even more effective than tea.
Thirdly, collagen makes up 70% of the dermis, the middle layer of the skin that contains the root of each individual hair. When there is enough collagen in the dermis, it can better grip onto the strand of hair. As the dermis thins with age due to loss in collagen, hair starts thinning and falling out faster. By providing the body what it needs to synthesize more collagen, the dermis can stay stronger, thicker, and more elastic, thereby preventing hair thinning.
In a 6-month randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, results showed that daily intake of collagen supplement resulted in a significant increase in the number of terminal and vellus hairs in the target area at day 90 and day 180 vs placebo, as well as significant improvements in hair growth and overall hair quality. A majority of participants also reported improvement in hair growth, volume, thickness, and hair growth rate.
Collagen is essential in maintaining healthy nails, and a lack of collagen can result in brittle nails that are prone to breaking and peeling.
In one clinical study with 25 participants consuming collagen supplement once daily for 24 weeks followed by a 4-week off-therapy period, results showed that there was an increase of 12% nail growth rate and a decrease of 42% in the frequency of broken nails. Additionally, 64% of participants achieved a global clinical improvement in brittle nails, and 88% of participants experienced an improvement 4 weeks post-treatment. At the end of the study, the majority of participants agreed that the collagen supplement improved their nails' appearance, and were completely satisfied.
Almost all collagen supplements are derived from animals, such as cows, pigs, and marine life like fish, jellyfish, and even sharks, with wild caught fish and grass fed bovine providing the best effects.
We have explained how marine collagen is the best for the skin, but remember, not all marine collagen is the same though, because the environment in which the fishes lived can play a role in the quality of the collagen supplement. While marine collagen is cleaner than bovine (land animals live in farms and more often than not, the conditions are not ideal, can be dirty and some may even be treated with antibiotics or contaminated feed), be sure to choose only wild-caught ones, as the open sea does not have antibiotics or food additives (yes, some brands do use farm-raised fish), and those that come from areas with the least pollution.
Are there vegan options? There are currently no real vegan collagen supplements available to consumers. These self-proclaimed collagen-boosting vegan products supposedly enhance the body's ability to produce collagen, but they do not contain collagen of any sort, and there is a lack of scientific research to support their use and thus dermatologists advise against them.
holi(mane) Hair, Skin & Nails Daily Supplement <- Click to shop
Agent Nateur holi(mane) Hair, Skin, Nails Daily Supplement combines two daily powerhouse super foods——marine collagen and pearl powder, that is abundant in over 30 trace minerals, bioavailable amino acids, nacre, and more.
This odorless and nearly tasteless blend is abundant in over 30 trace minerals including silica, magnesium, calcium and potassium, as well as bioavailable amino acids, to activate hair, skin and nail cells to produce collagen, promote cellular repair and increase hydration. Whilst, Nacre, a natural compound in pearl powder, stimulates collagen regeneration.
The synergy of this nutrient-dense blend also supports two important antioxidants, glutathione and superoxide dismutase, both essential for vitality.
The result is more hydrated skin, reduced fine lines and wrinkles, stronger nails that are less prone to breakage, and shinier, stronger hair.
Sea Water Pearl Powder
Besides improving the skin, hair, nails, and gut, collagen supplements also provide other clinically proven benefits to our overall health, including:
Relieve joint pain
Prevent bone loss
Boost muscle mass
Promote heart health
Everyone is different. Our bodies’ condition and how they process nutrients are all different, so there’s no definite answer. While some people will start seeing initial results in as little as two weeks, some may take one to three months. Note that all clinical studies mentioned above spanned over three to six months with daily intake?
It’s like trying to build muscles, you may not see visible result initially, but rest assured you’re laying down all the groundwork, and with consistency, the muscles will start showing up! Or think of it this way. You know your gut health has been poor for years, would you expect all existing problems to go away within only one month of taking probiotics? No, right? Collagen supplement is the same as all other supplements. Consistency and patience are key. If you’re only going to take it for one month only and expect it to produce miracles, then it’s better to not take it at all, as it would just be a waste of money. Give it at least three months. Trust us, there will be visible differences.
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