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Does Taking Collagen Really Help Your Skin Look Younger?

by John Wood 4 min read

middle-age bi-racial couple with young boy

It is the single most abundant protein in the animal kingdom. It comprises:

  • 33% of the protein in our bodies.  
  • 80% of our skin.
  • 85% of our tendons.
  • 70% of our joint cartilage.
  • 90% of our bones.

Collagen is one of the key elements that enables us to function and literally holds us together..

But here is the bad news…

When we hit the age of 25, we start losing 1 percent of our body’s collagen per year.

If you feel you’re not getting enough collagen in your diet and would love to have healthier skin, collagen peptides are an excellent option.

This figure doesn’t include the amount of collagen you may have lost if you smoke, eat lots of processed foods, consume too much sugar, experience excess stress, ingest a lot of caffeine or get too much sun.

What Is Collagen?

Collagen is the main protein that forms the connective tissue in our bodies. It gives hair, skin, nails, bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons their structure. It’s also found in many other body parts, including blood vessels, corneas and teeth. It gives skin its strength, elasticity and glow, and plays a key role in replacing dead skin cells. It also gives our hair its shine, and our nails their strength.

Collagen supplements in whole form cannot be absorbed into the body. For the body to be able to absorbit, collagen must go through a process called hydrolysis, which breaks it down into smaller molecules, allowing it to be absorbed and distributed within our bodies. Collagen peptides are hydrolyzed collagen which can be taken as a supplement.

There are 28 different types of collagen. The five most common types are…

  • Type I: 90% of collagen is Type I. It is also the strongest type of collagen found in the body. It can be found in our skin, tendons, organs and the organic part of the bone. Type I also plays a role in the circulatory system.
  • Type II: How well your joints function is dependent on Type II collagen. It plays a huge role in preventing joint pain.
  • Type III: Usually found alongside Type I collagen, Type III helps give your skin its firmness and elasticity. Type III also supports the structure of our muscles, organs and arteries.
  • Type IV: Type IV comprises part of the basal lamina, which makes up a portion of the basement membrane. This membrane lies between our outer middle skin layers, keeping them connected. It also helps form the tissue that surrounds our organs, muscles and fat.
  • Type V:  Type V collagen is needed to make cell surfaces, hair and placenta.

The best way to make sure your body is getting enough collagen is through the food choices you make. The following are foods that will boost your body’s natural collagen: 

  • Shellfish & fish – The “meat” contains less collagen than the head, scales and eyeballs.
  • Chicken – Collagen is abundant in the connective tissues and cartilage.
  • Egg whites – High in proline, an amino acid necessary for collagen production.
  • Garlic — High in sulfur, which helps synthesize and prevent the breakdown of collagen. 
  • Beans – Rich in copper and other amino acids necessary for collagen production.
  • Cashews – Contain zinc and copper, both of which play a role in collagen production.
  • Avocados – Stimulate collagen production.
  • Soy – Contains a plant hormone called genistein, which aids in collagen production.
  • Leafy greens – Contain chlorophyll, which may increase procollagen in the skin, the precursor to collagen.
  • White tea – Prevents enzymatic breakdown of elastin and collagen.

Vitamin C also plays an important role in the production of collagen. The following foods, which are high in Vitamin C, are recommended to maintain a healthy level of collagen: tomatoes (also contain lycopene, which is a powerful skin-supporting antioxidant); citrus fruits; berries; bell peppers (also contains capsaicin, which is thought to play a role in keeping your skin healthy); and red and yellow vegetables.

While many people also recommend bone broth as an excellent source of collagen, a 2019 study by Human Kinetics found that it might not be the best source for collagen.

Numerous studies have concluded that collagen supplements improve the skin, including the following:

  1. A 2014 study by Skin Pharmacology and Physiology found that women age 35 to 55 who used collagen peptides daily for eight weeks found they experienced a “significant improvement” in skin elasticity, skin moisture, and skin roughness.
  2. 2015 study by MINERVA Research Labs Ltd in the United Kingdom revealed that an “oral nutritional supplement consisting of hydrolyzed collagen, hyaluronic acid, and essential vitamins and minerals, leads to a significant improvement in wrinkle depth.” Other benefits were a noticeable improvement in the elasticity and hydration of the skin.
  3. A 2015 study published by the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology found that “the oral supplementation with collagen peptides is efficacious to improve hallmarks of skin aging.”
  4. January 2019 review found that “some data from double-blind placebo-controlled studies to support that collagen could increase skin elasticity, collagen density and overall hydration.”
  5. A 2019 study by the Journal of Drugs and Dermatology concluded that “preliminary results are promising for the short and long-term use of oral collagen supplements for wound healing and skin aging.” They go on to say that oral collagen supplements also increase skin elasticity, hydration and dermal collagen density, and that “collagen supplementation is generally safe with no reported adverse events.” 

If you feel you’re not getting enough collagen in your diet and would love to have healthier skin, collagen peptides are an excellent option. The science shows they can increase the firmness and smoothness of your skin, help renew and repair your skin and reduce the effects of aging. 

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