By Miranda Brown, MS, RDN/LD, licensed esthetician
When it comes to skin, no truer statement exists than “you are what you eat.” The nutrients you consume via food and supplements affect how skin looks and how it feels. Given that the structure of skin is made of protein, 70 percent of which is specifically collagen, the first question you might ask is: Does ingesting collagen itself improve the skin? The answer is “yes.” According to scientific studies, supplementing your diet with collagen peptides could be one of your most effective skin care go-tos. And, the beneficial effects for the skin have been shown to last up to 12 weeks post ingestion.
Collagen is a fibrous protein that provides structure to our skin. Collagen, along with the skin’s blood vessels, is found only below the epidermis (outer) layer deep into the dermis (inner) layer. This dermal layer is the nutrition support system for the skin.
With age, your body produces less collagen. A decline in collagen causes the dermal layer to sag, resulting in lax and wrinkled skin. Intake of collagen peptides can help boost collagen content in the skin, smoothing and firming it. Supplementation with collagen not only increases internal collagen production but reduces collagen breakdown as well.Collagen Hydrates Skin
Collagen increases the production of a water-loving molecule in the skin: hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid’s job in the skin is to bind with water and hold onto it. Increased collagen in the skin equals plumper, more hydrated skin.
When collagen is ingested in the form of a supplement, usually as a hydrolysate, it acts as an antioxidant in the skin. Daily, routine metabolic processes in the body create molecules that roam the body and damage cells. This cellular damage, also known as oxidative stress, has long been associated with the aging process. Antioxidants seek out those rogue molecules and keep them from doing cellular harm.
Supplementation with collagen peptides can help prevent photoaging damage from UVB rays. UVB sun rays are the ones that burn and age skin. One research study showed that a control group supplemented with collagen while exposed to UVB rays exhibited less wrinkling and less transepidermal water loss. The skin of the control group stayed more hydrated overall.
Collagen in the dermis jumps to action when the skin has been cut, burned or otherwise damaged to create the scaffolding for the new outer layer of skin (epidermis) to rebuild. A research study by Song et al. found that ingestion of collagen peptides repaired damaged collagen fibers in chronically aged skin, not just sun-damaged skin.
As a registered dietitian and licensed esthetician, Miranda Brown witnesses daily how food can make the body heal, thrive and glow. Brown lives, laughs and loves in Tulsa, OK.