People in health and beauty circles are swearing by collagen for anti-aging and skin benefits. Is it a fad? Is it hype? No! Renowned dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe is excited about the collagen craze and thinks you should be, too. Not only does collagen improve the look and feel of your skin, its effectiveness is proven by science. Here are Dr. Bowe’s suggestions on various ways to add collagen into your diets and what to look for in collagen supplements.
As a skin expert who has done a lot of research on how to improve skin health, I’m a fan of collagen supplementation. Here’s why.
Why Collagen Is Important To Our Bodies
First of all, we need to understand that collagen is the crucial substance that holds the whole body together. It helps to think of collagen as forming the body’s scaffold which provides strength and structure to your entire being. Collagen is made up of amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. And two main amino acids in collagen, proline and glycine are essential for the formation and repair of your joints, bones, muscles, tendons and healthy skin.
Collagen benefits your skin by keeping it plump, elastic and smooth. And as you age… guess what! It becomes harder and harder for your body to produce collagen, replace dead skin cells, and repair damaged joints, ligaments, tendons and bones.
To protect and nurture the collagen you already have it’s important to:
- get enough sleep,
- refrain from smoking and
- use sunscreen every day.
It seems easy enough, but even those three tips can present challenges from time to time, especially as we get older. That being said, it’s worthwhile to consider how to boost your body’s natural production of collagen or how a supplement may benefit your body and skin.
Boosting Your Body’s Natural Collagen Production
One easy way to boost your own collagen is to incorporate the right ingredients into your regular diet. For example, eating foods rich in vitamins A and C is an easy way to boost your body’s collagen. Vitamin A plays a role in helping to restore and regenerate damaged collagen. And you can’t even make collagen without vitamin C! Which foods should you be sure to include? Try dark leafy greens (which are rich in both Vitamins A and C), blueberries (which are rich in Vitamin C) and carrots (which are very rich in Vitamin A).
Other key foods to enhance your collagen include meat, fish, eggs and poultry. These proteins are responsible for dispuring the amino acids that are necessary to make collagen throughout the body to begin with!
You can also consider applying creams and serums that boost collagen production in your skin, too. Look for topical products that contain peptides or epidermal growth factors. When you rub them into the skin, they will boost the collagen in that spot. Voila!
Adding A Collagen Supplement To Your Diet
Another way to make sure you are getting enough collagen to keep your skin and body healthy is through collagen supplementation. People in Asia have been using collagen powders, drinks and supplements for years. Here in the United States, bone broths (which date back to ancient Greece and even Hippocrates himself who recommended them to people with digestion issues) have become popular in diet and beauty circles for the same reason: they provide a way to “drink collagen.” And now we’re seeing a variety of brands develop elixirs and supplements that deliver this “powder protein.”
What does collagen supplementation help with? Anti-aging, wound healing and bone regeneration! Also, consider the fact that collagen is composed of more than 97 percent protein with no sugars, fats or carbohydrates, making it one of the purest protein foods available.
Although we don’t have a library of high-profile studies to prove the full ingestible collagen benefits on skin, I anticipate these studies will begin to emerge. We don’t know, for instance, exactly how much collagen you eat actually gets absorbed and then repurposed for various organs and tissues, but we do know that a 2015 study showed significantly improved skin hydration after 8 weeks of collagen supplementation. Another paper that came out in 2015 went further, highlighting how numerous clinical trials are showing the efficacy and benefits of ingestible collagen on skin properties, such as elasticity and reduction of wrinkles, in addition to hydration. Other research is being done into collagen’s power to aid digestion, bone healing and regeneration, as well as wound healing and even restful sleep. Let’s be real, all of these collagen benefits are good for overall beauty too, not just skin!
Choosing a Collagen Supplement
Now that you understand the body and skin benefits of collagen supplementation, it’s important to know how to pick a particular brand. There are all different types of collagen supplements out there. So, which one to pick?
First of all, collagen supplements can come from different sources including cows, pigs and fish. Your religious and personal dietary choices might help guide your decision on which one of these sources best fits your needs. For example, if you do not eat pork for religious reasons, you have other options!
Many people opt for bovine- or cow-based collagen supplements. The most popular form of collagen, however, is “fish collagen.” Collagen derived from fish is smaller in molecular size than collagen derived from cows or pigs, and is therefore more “bioavailable.” Translation: fish collagen is more likely to get into your bloodstream and reach the places where it’s meant to work its wonders.
The terms “fish collagen” and “marine collagen” are often used interchangeably, but check your ingredients for collagen sourced from jellyfish or shellfish—these are not ideal, particularly if you have a shellfish allergy. What you want to look for is collagen that has been extracted from skin, bone, fin and scales of freshwater and marine fish. Don’t fear the fish collagen—it doesn’t taste like fish and it won’t make your coffee taste like fish. I promise!
One key factor to remember is that these supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration so you want to use reputable brands because both quality and ingredients vary. I have been loving Further Food’s Collagen Peptides which are made with 100% pure protein powder. Further Food makes both a bovine collagen from grass fed cows and marine collagen from the skin of wild caught cod. I take a packet in the morning with me to the office and stir the powder into my coffee. It has no taste at all! I drink bone broth and add collagen supplements to my diet regularly. I feel such a difference in my body.
Many of my patients who drink collagen daily swear by it. They report a variety of benefits, including seeing brighter, smoother skin and even feeling a boost of energy. After all, it does provide high-quality protein while being low in calories.
I am excited about the collagen craze because it’s not just a fad – this is backed by science, which is essential for my comfort level in making any recommendation.
To learn more about how the your entire diet impacts your skin and your overall health, check out my book—The Beauty of Dirty Skin: The Surprising Science of Feeling Radiant From The Inside Out or visit my website.
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