5 ways to give your collagen a helping hand as you age (and why it’s important)

Guest post by

Carole Beck

Carole Beck is a freelance health writer, based in London. She regularly contributes to magazines and websites, including Vitality, Pfizer and Holland & Barrett.

Author views are not our own.

You might have heard of collagen for its relationship with firm, youthful skin – but it’s more than just about fighting wrinkles. We’ve taken a look to find out more about it.

What is collagen?

Collagen is a protein – in fact the most abundant protein in the body – and it forms the building blocks that make up much of your body tissues, from skin to blood vessels, cartilage, tendons and heart valves. Collagen provides strength and stiffness to your body’s tissues, protects your organs and joints, and keeps your skin elastic and supple.1

Unfortunately, certain things affect how much collagen our bodies produce:2
• age – as we get older, we produce less collagen, especially after the age of 60
• the menopause – there’s a rapid drop in collagen production after the menopause
• physical wear and tear on our bodies – repeated stress on the body, for example through strenuous exercise, can damage collagen, according to a 2017 study by the University of Utah3

How to boost your collagen

Okay, so there’s not a lot you can do about getting older – but there are ways you can give your collagen a hand and help it regenerate, whatever your age:

1. Take a collagen supplement
Popping a supplement containing collagen is a good idea – researchers think the collagen is digested in your gut, before being laid down in cartilage and other tissues. Manuka Doctor Collagen Queen contains responsibly-sourced marine collagen – a natural collagen extracted from fish skin. A 2018 US review found that taking marine collagen supplements can improve skin smoothness and reduce wrinkles.4

The other ingredients in Manuka Doctor Collagen Queen are skin and collagen-friendly, too: vitamin C, which is needed to make collagen for bones, skin, cartilage, blood vessels and other parts of the body,5 while selenium plays a key role in skin and hair health.6 Hyaluronic acid is important for skin hydration7 and Royal Jelly may increase collagen production, according to a 2011 Korean study.8

2. Eat good quality protein
As collagen is made up of protein, eating enough of this nutrient will supply your body with lots of amino acids, which your body can break down and use to stimulate collagen production. Eggs are a good option – egg whites contain two amino acids, proline and glycine, which make up collagen.

Another option is to choose meat containing muscle or connective tissue, like chicken or beef, for a ready-made supply of collagen. You can also try preparing your own bone broth. Prefer fish? Make sure you eat the skin – fish meat doesn’t contain much collagen, but its scales do.9

3. Wear high-factor sunscreen daily
Here’s another reason to slap on the sunscreen: UV radiation can break up collagen fibres, according to a 2006 study by researchers at the University of Michigan, USA. The researchers found that the sun’s rays trigger the activity of a group of enzymes that team up to destroy collagen.10

4. Don’t smoke
We all know it isn’t good for our health, but it’s no good for your collagen either. Tobacco smoke not only slows collagen production in the skin, but it also increases levels of collagen-destroying enzymes. Quit smoking, and steer clear of smoky hang-outs.11

5. Cut down on sugar
Curb the white stuff where possible – a diet that’s high in sugar can damage collagen. Glucose and fructose sugars attach to the amino acids in proteins – which of course collagen is made of – to form new molecules, weakening the collagen structure.12

Sources
1. ScienceDaily. Combating wear and tear. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170322092013.htm
2. Medical News Today. Collagen: What is it and what are its uses? https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/262881.php
3. ScienceDaily. Combating wear and tear. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170322092013.htm
4. Vollmer DL, West VA, Lephart ED. Enhancing Skin Health: By Oral Administration of Natural Compounds and Minerals with Implications to the Dermal Microbiome. Int J Mol Sci. 2018 Oct; 19(10):3059. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6213755/
5. European Commission. EU Register on nutrition and health claims. http://ec.europa.eu/food/safety/labelling_nutrition/claims/register/public/?event=search
6. As above
7. Papakonstantinou E, Roth M, Karakiulakis G. Hyaluronic acid: A key molecule in skin aging. Dermatoendocrinol. 2012 Jul 1;4 (3):253-258. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3583886/
8. Park HM, et al. Royal jelly protects against ultraviolet B-induced photoaging in human skin fibroblasts via enhancing collagen production. J Med Food. 2011 Sep; 14(9):899-906. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21812645
9. Jamie Santa Cruz. Dietary Collagen – Should Consumers Believe the Hype? Today’s Dietitian. Vol 21, no 3, p 26. https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/0319p26.shtml
10. Varani J, et al. Decreased Collagen Production in Chronologically Aged Skin. Am J Pathol. 2006 Jun;168(6):1861-1868. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1606623/
11. Morita A. Tobacco smokes causes premature skin aging. J Dermatol Sci. 2007 Dec;48(3):169-75. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17951030
12. Danby FW. Nutrition and aging skin: sugar and glycation. Clin Dermatol. 2010 Jul-Aug;28:409-11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20620757

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