“Collagen” has of late been quite a buzzword found in the ingredient lists of number skincare, anti-ageing as well as health supplementation products.
For the purpose of not getting too carried away, it would be worthwhile to know that collagen is not just a buzzword. It is a kind of protein; one that is most abundantly found in the human body.
Is its presence in its claimants; that is the skincare products and health supplements proved to be genuine?
That is something that would need a thorough analysis.
To start things off, collagen is basically one of the main structural proteins of our body found in the bones, blood vessels, tendons, muscles and digestive system. It can be thought of as the glue that holds your bodily elements together and keeps them functioning smoothly.
When it comes to the skin, collagen constitutes up to 80% of your skin structure and it is responsible for the elasticity, firmness and bouncy nature of your skin.
Needless to say, your body produces collagen abundantly from the food you consume.
But as you age, this natural production of collagen takes a toll, thereby reducing the amount of collagen being produced, slowing down the production rate and in turn leading to lesser amounts of collagen in your body and skin.
Experts say that starting from 21 to 25 years in age, your body starts losing collagen at an estimated rate of 1% per year.
This is where most anti-ageing skincare products and collagen supplements in Canada find their relevance. Their USP lies in their high content of collagen and their claim is to re-store or replenish the lost collagen in your body to reveal youthful skin, muscles, cartilages and joints.
The truth about collagen and collagen supplements
Collagen contains an amino acid called hydroxyproline that specializes in making the skin look youthful. Prolyl-hydroxyproline, which is a fragment of collagen, consists of only two amino acids and it is found to induce the skin cells in vitro to produce hyaluronic acid; the compound that is responsible for keeping the skin hydrated and young.
However, when you consume a collagen-infused supplement, your body does not have control over where to place each component. Just like with any other food or supplement you consume your stomach and intestines break down the collagen as any other normal protein with the help of their enzymes. Each of these broken-down fragments will contain up to 3 amino acids before they get absorbed into the body, which may or may not include collagen. Your body does not have the ability to distinguish collagen from other proteins and hence gets absorbed just like other nutrients.
In any case, there have been numerous experiments and studies that have proven the effects of collagen supplements on skin texture. Collagen supplements do work to improve skin texture.
Although, it should be noted that most of these experiments used a combination of ingredients including collagen. Besides, there are around 28 different types of collagen, some affecting the skin texture while some others affect the muscles, joints, cartilages and overall metabolism.
In another experiment conducted in the year 2014, the effects of collagen hydrolysate were observed on women’s skin. There were 69 participants in the study, all aged between 35 and 55 years, divided into two groups. One group was asked to consume the collagen supplement each day for eight weeks while the other group was given a placebo.
At the end of the study period, the women in the first group were found to have experienced significant improvements in skin elasticity in comparison to the placebo group. Even after a month of the study, the effects were visible and statistically viable among the older women of the group.
However, there were not many changes observed in terms of the moisture levels of the skin.
Similarly, another study was conducted to observe the effects of collagen hydrolysate on joint pain. 147 athletes consisting of both men and women participated in the test and as usual, they were divided into two groups. One group regularly consumed a liquid formula infused with collagen hydrolysate while the other group consumed a liquid placebo.
Needless to say, at the end of the 24 week study period, the first group was found have experienced much less joint pain while resting as well as while walking, standing, lifting and carrying objects when compared to the placebo group.
These studies however do not provide conclusive evidence of the power of collagen as an anti-ageing cure-all. There have been many reviews by users claiming significant improvements in their age-related issues after consuming collagen supplements on a daily basis. At the same time, there have also been reviews where users did not notice any significant changes at all.
The right formula consisting of a combination of nutrients is what makes all the difference