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Collagen-what it is, myths, facts and the foods to boost it

Updated: Jun 26

Collagen is not a food!


collagen


There is a lot of misconception about collagen on the internet. Firstly, collagen is not a food, collagen is not a nutrient and it is certainly not a supplement.


Collagen is a type of protein found throughout your body, like in your skin, tendons, bones, and other tissues. It's what gives these tissues strength and structure.


Collagen is made up of amino acids, which are like the building blocks of proteins.


It is a vital structural protein that provides strength and support to various tissues in the body. Its biosynthesis involves a complex process of gene expression, intracellular modifications, and extracellular assembly into strong, cross-linked fibrils.


Key amino acids and nutrients, particularly from a balanced diet, play crucial roles in collagen production. Factors like diet, lifestyle, and ageing significantly influence collagen health. Supporting collagen through nutrition and healthy habits is essential for maintaining tissue integrity and a youthful appearance.


collagen


How it is formed?


Special cells called fibroblasts use amino acids from our diet to build collagen. Collagen is primarily composed of three amino acids: glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline. These amino acids are obtained from the proteins we consume in our diet.


Genes in these cells provide instructions to assemble collagen molecules called procollagen. Inside the cells, procollagen matures into collagen, which is then released into the spaces between cells. There, collagen fibres join together to form a network that supports and strengthens tissues. Eating a balanced diet and maintaining healthy habits like staying hydrated and getting enough sleep can help support collagen formation, ensuring our tissues stay strong and resilient.

collagen

Collagen isn't just about structure. It's crucial for repairing tissues when you get hurt, keeping your skin elastic and firm, and supporting your joints.

Eating a balanced diet rich in protein, vitamins (especially vitamin C), and minerals (like zinc and copper) helps your body make collagen.


Avoiding things like smoking and too much sun exposure can also help keep your collagen healthy and strong.


There are various types of collagen out of which Type I collagen is the most abundant type in the skin.


Type I collagen is the most abundant type of collagen in the human body and plays a critical role in maintaining the health and structure of the skin.


Type I collagen forms the primary structural component of the dermis, the deeper layer of the skin beneath the epidermis (outer layer).


It also supports the connective tissues throughout the body, providing strength and resilience to various structures.


Type I collagen provides structural support to the skin, giving it strength, firmness, and elasticity.

Type I collagen fibres help maintain the skin's elasticity, allowing it to stretch and return to its original shape.


collagen

By supporting the skin's structure, Type I collagen helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.

It plays a role in retaining moisture within the skin, keeping it hydrated and supple.


Proper skincare routines and a balanced diet rich in proteins, vitamins (especially vitamin C), and minerals (like zinc and copper) support collagen production and skin health.


Type III collagen is a fibrous protein that provides structural support and flexibility to the skin.


Type III collagen is primarily found in the dermis, the deeper layer of the skin beneath the outer layer (epidermis).


Type III collagen helps maintain skin elasticity, allowing it to stretch and return to its original shape.

Alongside Type I collagen, Type III collagen helps keep skin smooth, firm, and youthful-looking.

It is crucial for maintaining skin flexibility and preventing sagging or wrinkling.


It supports blood vessel walls, contributing to healthy circulation and skin nourishment.


Eat a balanced diet of proteins, vitamins (especially vitamin C), and minerals (like zinc and copper) to support collagen production.


Use products that promote collagen synthesis and maintain skin elasticity, such as moisturizers and serums containing peptides or antioxidants like our Moisturizing body balm.


Type IV collagen is a major component of the basement membrane, a thin layer separating the epidermis (outer layer) from the skin's dermis (deeper layer).


It is essential for maintaining the structure and organization of skin layers.


It supports the skin's barrier function, protecting against pathogens and environmental stressors.


It Facilitates communication between skin cells and the surrounding environment, aiding in wound healing and skin regeneration.


These are the best foods to maintain and increase collagen:


Fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants like vitamin C, crucial for collagen synthesis.


Omega-3 Fatty Acids found in nuts, seeds, and plant oils (like flaxseed and olive oil), omega-3s help reduce inflammation and support collagen production.


Phytochemicals are plant compounds such as flavonoids and carotenoids that protect against oxidative stress, which can damage collagen.


Polyphenols Found in foods like berries, grapes, green tea, and dark chocolate enhance collagen synthesis by promoting the activity of enzymes involved in collagen production.


Antioxidant Properties: Polyphenols combat oxidative stress, which can degrade collagen fibres.


Anti-Inflammatory: They help reduce inflammation, supporting overall skin health and collagen integrity.


Functional foods play a crucial role in supporting collagen maintenance and overall skin health by providing essential nutrients, antioxidants, and other bioactive compounds. By incorporating a diverse range of functional foods into your diet, you can help protect and promote healthy collagen production, contributing to vibrant skin and overall well-being.


Sources of functional foods:


Collagen-Boosting Nutrients: Include foods rich in vitamin C (citrus fruits, bell peppers), zinc (legumes, seeds), and copper (nuts, seeds).


Hydration: Drink plenty of water and consume hydrating foods like cucumbers and melons to keep skin cells plump and support collagen structure.


More Diet and Lifestyle Tips for Collagen Protection and Building


Protein: Incorporate lean proteins like beans, lentils, tofu, and tempeh to provide the amino acids necessary for collagen synthesis.


Whole Grains: Choose whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and oats for their fibre content, which supports digestive health and nutrient absorption.


Healthy Fats: Include sources of healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, and seeds to help maintain skin moisture and flexibility.


Limit Sugar and Processed Foods: Reduce intake of refined sugars and processed foods to minimize glycation, which can damage collagen fibres.


Lifestyle Habits: Manage stress levels through activities like yoga, meditation, or hobbies, as chronic stress can contribute to collagen breakdown.


Sleep: Aim for adequate sleep each night to support skin repair and collagen production.


Meal Planning: Plan meals that include a variety of colourful fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.


If making significant dietary changes, consult with a healthcare provider or registered dietitian for personalized advice.


By focusing on a plant-based diet rich in antioxidants, polyphenols, and functional foods, you can support collagen production, protect against damage, and promote overall skin health and vitality.


References


  1. Wu M, Cronin K, Crane JS. Biochemistry, Collagen Synthesis. [Updated 2023 Sep 4]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507709/

  2. Murakami, H., Shimbo, K., Inoue, Y. et al. Importance of amino acid composition to improve skin collagen protein synthesis rates in UV-irradiated mice. Amino Acids 42, 2481–2489 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00726-011-1059-z

  3. Amino acids in formation of collagen https://www.news-medical.net/health/Collagen-Synthesis.aspx

  4. Mitsuo Yamauchi, David T. Woodley, Gerald L. Mechanic, Aging and cross-linking of skin collagen, Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, Volume 152, Issue 2, 1988, Pages 898-903, ISSN 0006-291X, https://doi.org/10.1016/S0006-291X(88)80124-4. (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006291X88801244)

  5. Reilly DM, Lozano J. Skin collagen through the lifestages: importance for skin health and beauty. Plastic and Aesthetic Research. 2021; 8: 2. http://dx.doi.org/10.20517/2347-9264.2020.153


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