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Collagen supplements – The ultimate beauty booster?

by Laura Palmer

When it comes to maintaining youthful, plump, glowing skin, are you looking for that holy grail? Something non-invasive, natural, and hassle-free? Skincare brands and aesthetics practitioners make some pretty bold claims on their ability to transform tired, dry, and wrinkled skin. But, collagen supplements comes with a hefty price tag attached, can cause discomfort, and is often just a temporary fix.

What if the answer was much simpler? And rather than trying to change things on the outside, you could support your skin from within? If you’re keen to try improving your complexion from the inside out, collagen supplements are an excellent place to start. This is because collagen makes up over 80% of your skin and is key to making it look smooth, supple and healthy.

Why is collagen essential for healthy skin?

Collagen is a protein found in the skin as a rope-like structure that, along with elastin, forms the main structure and support of your skin. When you’re young, the rope remains tight, but as you get older, the ends begin to fray. This is because the ageing process slows collagen production and your body isn’t able to replace the collagen at the same rate it breaks down.

From your mid-20s, you’ll start to lose about 1 per cent of your collagen each year. This accelerates as you get older. So by the time you reach 50, you’ll have lost up to a third of the collagen in your skin. Things like smoking, sun exposure and pollution can speed up the process even more. The result? Dry, wrinkled, tired-looking skin.

What are the benefits of taking collagen supplements?

The older you get, the lower your collagen levels will be, which suggests supplements are an excellent idea after 40. Taking a supplement won’t prevent you from losing collagen, but it can help to slow the process down.  Studies have shown that taking a daily collagen supplement can put the brakes on the body breaking down collagen by up to a third – impressive!

It’s also worth noting your diet probably doesn’t provide as much collagen as you might think. Collagen is largely found in meat and fish, but in the parts you probably don’t eat. For example the bones and ligaments of the chicken. Or the head, scales and eyeballs of fish – Bon Appetit!

In addition, the type of collagen found in those dietary delights isn’t particularly well absorbed by the body. This is because they contain quite large collagen particles. Collagen absorption is much better with smaller proteins, like collagen peptides, which you’ll find in collagen supplements.

Do collagen supplements work?

After a couple of months of taking collagen supplements, research suggests you’re likely to see improved skin elasticity, firmness and hydration. Plus, more of that youthful plumpness everyone misses as you get older. In a study where a group of women (aged 35 plus) took a collagen supplement each day, for 12 weeks, their wrinkle depth was reduced by 27% and skin hydration improved by 28%.

There are other non-beauty collagen benefits to be had by topping up your collagen levels too. Most notably the positive impact collagen can have on bones and joints. This is because collagen is also one of the main proteins in cartilage. It is thought that collagen supplements stimulate your body’s production of joint collagen. This can help to ease the symptoms of osteoarthritis and improve joint, back and knee pain.

Can eating foods rich in collagen help?

Not a fan of fish eyes? A more appetising collagen-rich food is bone broth. Bone broth contains a bioavailable form of collagen that your body can use right away. It’s also full of amino acids, which may help with collagen production. There are tons of recipes for bone broth available online (you can find Dr Michael Mosley’s recipe here), but it’s super easy to make. Just simmer animal bones in water, then chuck in whatever herbs and spices you like. It’s best to use the bones of organic meat to avoid any nasties.

If bone broth isn’t your thing, there are plenty of foods you can eat to help boost collagen production. Egg whites should be top of the list, because they contain large amounts of proline (an essential amino acid for collagen production). Fruits rich in vitamin C should also be on your shopping list, because they play a key role in the production of pro-collagen (which helps to form collagen).

As for what to avoid to promote optimum collagen levels? It’s the usual suspect: excessive sugar. Tempting as the sweet treats may be, sugar can cause inflammation in the body and damage the collagen you already have in your skin.

Why use a collagen patch?

Eating a well-balanced, low sugar diet, alongside using a collagen supplement, is a great way to provide your body with everything it needs to slow down collagen loss. The Collagen Plus Topical Patch contains Collagen Type II AND vitamins C, D3, A and E to support collagen production. This also means if your diet is less than perfect for a couple of weeks, you’ll still be getting enough of those vital skin supporting vitamins.

A patch is a superior way to supplement because consuming collagen, either as part of your diet, or as an oral supplement, often means the collagen gets broken down by the body’s digestive processes. Natural collagen is a huge molecule that often doesn’t make it through the intestinal barrier. Patches offer slow release, transdermal delivery of the collagen, straight into the bloodstream. Avoiding the stomach and liver means much more of the collagen will make it into the body. Then it can be absorbed in areas that need repair the most.

Collagen and hyaluronic acid are perfect partners:

In topical skincare and supplements, you’ll often find collagen alongside hyaluronic acid, but why do you need both? The answer is: moisture. Hyaluronic acid is a natural substance produced by the body and found in every cell. It has moisture retaining super powers and is capable of binding with over one thousand times its weight in water – wow! Increased moisture in the skin cells, means your skin will feel and appear more hydrated, plump and healthy.

As with so much of the good stuff, as we age our levels of HA can dip. Particularly if you’ve spent a lot of time in the sun. Topping it back up with a regular supplement has been shown to help prevent the formation of new wrinkles, decrease fine lines and even improve sun damage.

Add the increased moisture from hyaluronic acid, to the supple, smoothness that collagen promotes and you’ve got yourself the ultimate skincare dream team! If you want to supercharge your skin and give it everything it needs to slow down the aging process, make sure you choose a collagen AND hyaluronic acid supplement – the Collagen Plus Topical Patch has both – just saying!