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Do Collagen Supplements Really Have Anti-Aging Benefits?

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If you’ve been in a health food store in the last few years, you’ve seen collagen on the label of multiple products, including face creams, energy bars, and powders to enhance your morning coffee or smoothie. 

You also may have heard that boosting your collagen can keep you looking young for years to come. But, does collagen really have anti-aging benefits? Here are our two cents.

As collagen supplementation is a relatively new trend, it’s hard to predict the benefits and risks until further studies have been conducted. That said, a few recent studies have shown promising links between collagen supplementation and improved skin elasticity and hydration. (More long-term studies are required to track improved bone health, so we’ll focus only on the skin in this article.)

Apart from collagen supplements, anti-aging treatments are available that encourage your body to produce new collagen naturally through targeted stimulation, also called neocollagenesis. Visit us for a consultation to discuss your long-term positive aging goals.

Before we dive in, always remember to discuss treatments and supplements with your doctor.

What is Collagen?

Collagen refers to a family of proteins found in the body of all animals, including humans. It supports our entire body structurally and is the main component of connective tissue. Collagen is found in our skin, tendons, ligaments, hair, muscles, cartilage, organs, and bones. 

Current data shows that there are 28 types of collagen, with types I, II, III, IV, and V being the main types of collagen found in our bodies. Needless to say, healthy collagen production is paramount for our overall health.

Your body naturally produces collagen by converting dietary protein into amino acids. So maintaining a balanced diet containing protein-rich foods, like chicken, beef, eggs, dairy, legumes, nuts, and whole grains, and a variety of vegetables supports collagen production. 

Collagen & Aging

As we age, the body naturally produces less collagen, reflected in the structural integrity of the body with looser skin, wrinkles, and weaker joints. 

Aside from the inevitable aging, other lifestyle factors can adversely affect collagen production. 

First, if your diet includes an excessive amount of sugar and refined carbohydrates, you’re doing a disservice to your ability to produce collagen. Sugar interferes with the collagen fibres, making them unable to repair themselves.

Similarly, smoking decreases the ability to synthesize collagen adequately, which can lead to wrinkles and subpar wound healing. Also, stress—the culprit for many ailments—impacts your body’s collagen production thanks to cortisol and its need for energy in the form of amino acids.

And, finally, the most significant factor comes from overexposure to our beloved sunshine. UV exposure can impair the formation of new collagen. Up to 90% of aging is attributed to UV exposure.

Harmful UVA rays are ever-present, making it imperative to wear SPF year-round—even on cloudy, gloomy days. UVB rays are shorter and give us that hot, inflamed sensation of feeling sunburnt. Since UVB rays are somewhat blocked by clouds, we don’t feel ourselves burning, but the damage is happening to our collagen.

To keep your body’s collagen creation strong, avoid refined carbohydrates and sugar, avoid smoking, and wear an SPF sunscreen—those harmful UV rays can come through rain or shine.

Happy middle aged woman touching moisturized skin while wearing bathrobe and towel on head.

Collagen Supplementation & Your Skin

So, if aging naturally slows collagen production, can’t we simply take supplements to boost collagen in the skin? Well, the answer is not a simple yes or no. 

Relevant research has been conducted in the last few years, and certainly having more future studies will allow a broader idea of collagen supplementation benefits. However, what we can glean from recent analyses is positive, as multiple controlled studies have concluded that collagen supplements can improve skin elasticity and hydration. 

Looking at a study from 2014, experts learned that among their sample group of 114 women ages 45 to 65, the use of bioactive collagen supplementation over 8 weeks showed reduced wrinkles and improved skin elasticity. Likewise, in a 2015 study, collagen supplementation significantly improved skin hydration in their 2 placebo-controlled clinical trials.

More recently, research from 2018 showed significant promise of collagen supplements combined with other ingredients like chondroitin sulphate, glucosamine, L-carnitine, vitamins, and minerals having positive effects on skin elasticity. 

And, finally, a 2019 analysis assessed the effects of collagen supplements on wound healing and skin aging, with results showing an increase in skin elasticity, hydration, and density. 

So, while collagen is not a miracle superfood, supplementation with hydrolyzed collagen can be used by the body for anti-aging benefits like reduced wrinkles and improved skin elasticity and hydration. 

Are There Risks When Taking Collagen?

So far, there’s limited trustworthy information on the safety and side effects of collagen supplements.

The potential side effects of collagen supplements include an unpleasant flavour, feeling heaviness, heartburn, and in excess quantities, digestive issues. If you’re thinking about venturing into supplementation, you should always consult your healthcare provider beforehand.

Boost Your Natural Collagen

Collagen already exists within your body, and production will continue. So let’s talk about some ways that you can boost your natural collagen production without taking collagen peptide supplements.

Nutrients That Support Collagen Production

Before collagen is created, procollagen forms by joining two amino acids, glycine and proline, using vitamin C in the process. 

Find ways to incorporate the following nutrients to enhance your natural collagen production:

  • Vitamin C: large quantities of vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, brussels sprouts, strawberries, and bell peppers. (You can also take vitamin C supplements, but please chat with your doctor.)
  • Glycine: this amino acid is found in turkey, chicken, pork, peanuts, and pumpkin seeds.
  • Proline: this amino acid is found in cheese, beef, lamb, cabbage, seaweed, and asparagus. 

Cosmetic Treatments to Stimulate Collagen Production

Our experienced staff at Sante Medical offer cosmetic treatments that stimulate collagen production. As we mentioned, collagen production decreases with age, so a 60-year-old would likely need twice as many treatments as a 30-year old. We can discuss your personal needs during a thorough consultation at our clinic.

Almost everything we do in medical aesthetics revolves around producing more collagen and elastin. Both are used in your body’s natural process for wound healing, including minor controlled injury to the skin with a cosmetic intervention. Some of our treatments that encourage collagen production include:

Apart from our treatments, some of our skincare products use anti-aging ingredients that stimulate collagen production, such as polyamine-DAB found in Vivier’s Grenzcine line, the growth factors found in the NeoCutis line, and retinol found in the ZO Skin Health line.

Book Your Consultation Today

Your body’s collagen production and retention should be nurtured, whether that’s through supplements with possible anti-aging benefits or cosmetic treatments that can reduce signs of aging. 

So, book a consultation to learn more about how you can boost your collagen, reduce wrinkles, and improve skin elasticity. We’re here for you with services that will empower you to age gracefully and confidently. 

Written by Dr. Bobby Sreenivasan

Dr. Sreenivasan is a graduate of the University of Alberta Medical Program, where he completed both his undergraduate and post-graduate training. After graduating in 2002, he practiced in Edmonton until 2011, at which point he began practicing in Calgary. His medical interests include preventative care medicine with a focus on bioidentical hormone balancing. He also has a keen interest in cosmetic procedures such as BOTOX, fillers, PRP, skin rejuvenation, and hair restoration surgery.
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