Wrinkles. Sagging. Dryness. Our skin certainly suffers from old father time.
Not to mention the added toll from environmental pollution, stress, too much sugar, and excessive sunlight exposure.
Cosmetics help, but it’s building beauty from within that really makes the difference in the way your skin looks and feels. I’m talking about the right nutrition and supplements. Scientists point especially to the skin rejuvenating power of collagen.
In fact, this year there’s been a rash of new studies to prove it.
When I heard what they had to say, I got pretty excited. . .
Smoother, Firmer, More Elastic Skin
Collagen protein makes up 80 percent of the skin, supplying it with structure and support, but production slows down in our twenties, and after that, we lose one percent every year.
So, it seems logical to take a collagen supplement to help maintain healthy, youthful-looking skin. Especially since studies conducted so far back up collagen’s effectiveness.
Researchers at the University of California, Irvine, published a review of randomized, controlled trials in January 2019 that included eleven studies involving 805 subjects.
In their conclusion they wrote, “Preliminary results are promising…Oral collagen supplements…increase skin elasticity, hydration, and dermal collagen density.”
Two further studies, conducted in the U.S. and Germany, were published in September and October 2019. Both were “gold standard” randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials.
The U.S. trial involved 113 women aged 39 to 59 who took either collagen or placebo for 12 weeks. The collagen supplement included two other substances that benefit the skin — chondroitin sulfate and hyaluronic acid.
The collagen group experienced a significant reduction in facial lines and wrinkles, less visible crow’s feet, increased skin elasticity, greater collagen content, and less dryness compared to the placebo group.
The study in Germany enrolled 72 women aged 35 or older. Half took a collagen drink that also included other skin supporting nutrients — acerola fruit extract, vitamin C, zinc, biotin and vitamin E complex.
After 12 weeks women in the collagen group reported significantly improved skin hydration, elasticity and density when compared to women in the control group.
And 12 weeks is not particularly long for a regimen that’s supposed to change the skin by way of nutrition. I suspect that long-term use might yield more dramatic results.
How Does Collagen Work?
According to Dr. Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research in the Department of Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, taking a collagen supplement “is similar to what your body would experience after a steak dinner, except without the fat.”
As Dr. Zeichner explains, first, a collagen supplement blocks enzymes that break down collagen, and second, it provides the body with the peptides — short chains of amino acids — that cells use to build collagen.
He also states that consuming high levels of collagen peptides may trick the body into thinking its natural collagen is breaking down and as a result, triggers the formation of new collagen.
Experts Support It
Dr. Zeichner adds that while he doesn’t actively recommend collagen supplements, “for patients who ask I’m certainly supportive of it, along with a healthy diet and a good skincare routine.”
Board certified New York dermatologist, Dr. Whitney Bowe, does recommend ingestible collagen to her patients and claims to have seen noticeable benefits — firmer, more elastic and better hydrated skin.
Another supporter is Jen Scheinman, a Colorado-based registered dietitian nutritionist who takes collagen supplements herself and recommends them to many of her clients.
“I use collagen a few days per week … and my skin definitely looks firmer and healthier. It has a more youthful look and feel,” she says.
There seems to be little downside to taking ingestible collagen. But popular sources for supplements include pork, beef and marine life, so people need to be aware of any allergies they have.
Benefits will also depend on your existing diet. As explained by Dr. Karyn Grossman, a clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Southern California:
“If you are eating very minimal calories, and you’re not eating a lot of protein, you may experience a greater benefit by taking a collagen supplement than someone who regularly eats salmon, lean chicken, turkey, broccoli, red peppers, and tomatoes — all foods that help support collagen synthesis.”