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The Magic of Collagen

By the age of 50, women will have naturally lost almost half the collagen from their skin. A high-sugar diet, smoking and sun exposure can decrease levels even more dramatically. The good news is that if you’re looking for a boost that can beautify your skin from within, new research shows there are many benefits to taking collagen supplements

According to the latest study, published by the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture in February this year, the use of collagen supplements “led to improvement in facial skin conditions, including facial skin moisture, elasticity, wrinkles and roughness.”

Pam Greenhalgh, a professional sportswoman from Auckland, spent many hours of her youth out in the harsh New Zealand sun, which eventually caught up with her as she entered her 40s.

“I didn’t really think about the damage to my skin back then, but now it’s a big concern for me,” she said. “I don’t feel any older and I just want the outside to reflect how I feel on the inside and I know that collagen supplements have really made a difference to my skin.”

The importance of collagen should not be underestimated. Collagen is a naturally produced protein responsible for 80 per cent of all connective tissue and 75 per cent of skin – it is essentially the glue that holds the body together. It is mostly found in fibrous tissues like tendons, ligaments and skin, and is also abundant in the cornea, bones, cartilage and blood vessels. There are 28 kinds of collagen, with the body needing types I, II and III to produce all the varieties it needs. Skin is made up of types I and III and cartilage contains type II collagen.

Our bodies naturally produce the collagen that it needs, but this is gradually disrupted as part of the natural ageing process. Women also produce less collagen than men, and from the age of 25 this collagen is lost at a rate of around one per cent per year. This depletion of our collagen stores results in the tell-tale signs of ageing like wrinkles, sagging skin, thin hair, brittle nails, swollen and stiff joints and muscle aches. But this latest research is giving hope to all those looking to wind back the years.

The top benefits of collagen supplements

A supplement delivers the collagen or collagen peptides to your body in a way that increases your levels directly. The benefits include improved skin texture, firmness and hydration, stronger teeth, hair and nails, improved tendon and joint flexibility and strength. It can also aid in the recovery from injuries and muscle repair.

The effects of collagen have been backed by multiple studies. A Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology clinical trial in 2015 showed significant increases in skin hydration and improved collagen density after eight weeks of a daily oral collagen supplement, with effects lasting after 12 weeks. The report found, “The oral supplementation with collagen peptides is efficacious to improve hallmarks of skin ageing.”

In 2014, a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 69 women between the ages of 35 and 55 showed a statistically significant improvement in skin elasticity after eight weeks, compared to the placebo group. Importantly, no side effects were noted.

The different types of collagen

There are three main sources of collagen: bovine, porcine and marine, but the effectiveness varies between sources. The preferred source is marine collagen because of its superior bioavailability (the quantity of the ingested dose that is absorbed). It is absorbed up to 1.5 times more efficiently into the body due to the smaller particle size of fish collagen peptides.

Jude Salisbury, managing director of abeeco New Zealand, which produces Kiwi-made Marine Collagen + Keratin, says, “We wanted to make sure that our collagen capsules were the most effective on the market so we won’t use anything other than high grade marine collagen and our customers keep coming back for more. Adding the keratin to our advanced formula aids in the synthesis of collagen as well”.

The key facts about collagen:

  • Collagen is the most abundant protein found in nature.
  • Collagen gives skin its strength and structure and is responsible for 75 per cent of the skin.
  • Collagen supplements are made from one of three main sources: bovine, porcine or marine.
  • Marine collagen is absorbed 1.5 times more efficiently into the body.
  • Collagen declines with age and can be damaged by sunlight, smoking and high sugar consumption.
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