What Are the Benefits of Taking a Collagen Supplement?
Your life can get a little crazy sometimes. Occasionally you forget an anniversary, sometimes you wake up too late to pack your lunch for work, you might even miss a workout. But there's one thing that's always on point, and that's your skincare routine.
So when your sister mentions that she started taking a collagen supplement on your biweekly lunch date, you're taken aback. Should you be taking collagen too?
Your sister is one smart cookie, but she can't give you any definitive answers on how collagen is beneficial, and you're not one to buy something without doing a little research.
Collagen comes up a lot in terms of skincare, but what do you really know about it?
We're guessing beyond the fact that it's a good thing...not too much. Luckily, you don't have to be a dietician to understand collagen's benefits for your skin. All you need to do is keep reading.
What Does Collagen Do?
You, like everyone else in the world, already have collagen. It's a protein in your skin that keeps it firm and plump. (It's also in your muscles, bones, blood vessels, and some organs.)
The amount of collagen you have depends on your age and how well you treat your body. Take a look at your 7-year-old niece, for instance. Notice how her sweet cherub cheeks are plump and glowing? That's thanks to collagen. Now glance over at your elderly, chain-smoking neighbor. See how her crepey skin is rife with lines and wrinkles? That's thanks to a lack of collagen.
Your neighbor failed to realize that her collagen production nearly slowed to a stop between her constant smoking and unavoidable aging. Without an abundance of collagen to hold her skin up, like poles that maintain the taut structure of a tent, her skin was no match against gravity.
Like we mentioned, it's not just age that diminishes collagen production; it's your lifestyle too—things like smoking, tanning, poor nutrition, and technology's blue light. Maybe you've never been a smoker, you avoid tanning beds like the plague, and your diet is balanced, but we're willing to bet you spend a good portion of your day basking in the blue light of a monitor. Yep, even your phone, tv, or tablet can break down your collagen and cause photoaged skin.
If you can't avoid it, the least you can do is negate it.
So here you are, somewhere between cherub and elderly. What can you do to ensure that your collagen keeps your skin right and tight for the foreseeable future? Perhaps, a supplement?
Do Collagen Supplements Help Your Skin?
A natural solution for depleting collagen is to replenish it, and that's where a collagen supplement comes in.
There have been quite a few studies done on the effectiveness of taking collagen, and they come to the same conclusion: oral collagen supplements help restore skin hydration, elasticity, texture, and density (or thinness). In one study, participants saw benefits after only three months.
So if you're looking for a little help in the wrinkle-reducing, elasticity-promoting department, it might be time to add some collagen to your morning smoothie. It helps in both preventative and restorative capacities, so both you and your neighbor can happily enjoy it. You might notice better benefits on your complexion, though. It's always easier to prevent than repair.
I know what you're thinking. What's the catch?
Actually, there isn't one! Since the collagen is taken orally, it works its way to your skin from the inside out to reach the deep layers (AKA the dermis), where it can actually do some good. Bonus, no side effects!
Most options for oral collagen are animal-sourced, typically beef or fish. Vegan options are a little harder to come by. Are there collagen-boosting alternatives available for our friends who prefer to keep it animal-free?
Alternative: Collagen Promoting Diet
You don't need to ingest actual collagen to replenish it in your skin. Triggering your body to produce more on its own has the same effect.
How can you incite collagen production? One way is by eating.
That's right, foods high in vitamins A, C, and other antioxidants are great for stimulating collagen production. We know you're healthy, so you're probably already getting these nutrients in your diet, but in case you want to be sure, here's a cheat sheet.
Getting your daily dose of vitamin A is as easy as adding a side of broccoli to your dinner or snacking on some watermelon in the afternoon. We all know that vitamin C is rampant in oranges, but you can also get it in other citrus fruits or even tomatoes and cauliflower. For more antioxidants, try a morning smoothie with blueberries, blackberries, and cherries.
Does Topical Collagen Work?
Not looking to change your diet or add in supplements? Maybe topical collagen is the way to go.
Not so fast, my little wrinkle warrior. Applying collagen topically is about as useful as tossing springs on top of your mattress to make it springier. It does have great hydrating benefits when you put it on your skin, but other than that, you won't see the skin firming, wrinkle-reducing magic you're hoping for.
Collagen molecules are too big to fit into your cute little pores, so when applied topically, it just sits on top. Great for moisture, not so great for fending off fine lines.
Remember how there are ways to encourage collagen production without ingesting actual collagen? The same goes for topical treatments.
Antioxidants like vitamin A, vitamin C, and other ingredients like hyaluronic acid strengthen your collagen and improve its production.
So, What's the Verdict?
At the end of the day, whether or not you want to add a collagen supplement to your roster of skin-enhancing practices is up to you. From where we sit, we can't see a reason why you wouldn't.
After all, you can't have your collagen-taking sister looking better than you. Can you imagine if you were mistaken for the older sister? (Whether or not you are the older sister is neither here nor there.)
And hey, if for some reason you're opposed to an animal-based collagen supplement, you have options, like adjusting your diet or using a preventative aging skincare routine. Heck, you could even use all three if you feel so inclined!
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