How to Get More Collagen
and Why Your Skin Needs It to Stay Young
Collagen is a structural protein that acts as the building block for your bones, teeth, muscles, skin and all other connective tissues. The most abundant protein in the body, collagen makes up more than one-third of your total protein. It’s rich in glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline — the amino acids that help your body make new collagen.
How collagen keeps your skin young
Collagen makes up nearly 80 percent of your skin, and it’s found in the middle layer called the dermis. It works together with another protein called elastin to strengthen the skin and help it get back into place when stretched.
Collagen production starts to slow down as you get older — and it happens sooner than you’d think.“After the age of 25, we break down more collagen than we make so that’s why we start to see fine lines and wrinkles,” says Debra Jaliman, MD, author of “Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist.” From there, you start losing about one percent of your collagen each year.“Under a microscope you see fragmentation of the collagen network in the dermis — this is the hallmark of skin aging.”
Other factors working against you? Sun exposure and smoking. Ultraviolet (UV) light and tobacco smoke activate enzymes that degrade collagen fibers.
Benefits of collagen in your body
Stronger joints and bone formation: Collagen peptides strengthen your joints, making them more resilient to injury. Research shows that taking hydrolyzed collagen reduces joint pain and boosts the density of your cartilage, making joints more flexible.
Better sleep: Glycine — an amino acid present in collagen — helps you sleep better and more deeply. Glycine is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, which means it calms the nervous system.
Weight loss: Collagen can help control your weight. Glycine forms muscle by converting glucose into energy. Lean muscle tissue boosts your metabolism since muscle burns more calories than fat.
Collagen heals your gut: Collagen repairs and strengthens your intestinal and stomach lining, easing leaky gut syndrome and making it easier for your body to absorb nutrients.
How to increase your collagen intake
The best way to increase your collagen intake is to eat foods that are naturally high in it, such as:
- Bone Broth
- Pork, salmon, and chicken skins
- Non-steak cuts of meat like tendon, tripe, oxtail, and knuckle
- Egg yolk and eggshell membranes
It’s a good idea to get your collagen from a variety of sources. That way you know you’re getting a mix of the different types. For instance, beef is full of type I and type III collagens, which strengthen your skin, bones, and gut, while fish consists only of type I. Chicken, on the other hand, provides type II collagen — the main component of the cartilage in your joints.
Taking collagen peptides orally, either in pill or powder form, is an easy way to boost your collagen stores. Research shows that collagen supplements improve skin elasticity, reduce wrinkles, boost skin hydration, and increase the density of fibroblasts — cells in connective tissue that produce the protein.
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