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Collagen is an important structural protein naturally produced by our bodies. It’s found throughout our bodies, in tendons, bones, cartilage, cells, tissues, and skin. It’s particularly important for skin, since it acts as a kind of scaffolding, keeping it plump, firm, and supple.

As we age, collagen starts to break down. And beginning as early as our mid-late 20s, collagen production decreases. The net effect over time is a loss of collagen, leading to signs of aging like wrinkles and sagging skin. What can be done to restore lost collagen? Slow the breakdown or amp up production.

topical collagen treatments

Collagen has become a very popular ingredient in skin care, but it’s not actually that effective as a cream because collagen molecules are too large to penetrate the skin. There is hydrolyzed collagen that is broken down much smaller. But even so, while a cream may make your skin look better, it’s not likely having a big impact on actual collagen production. 

What’s effective for boosting collagen production? Think retinol, Vitamin C or glycolic acid – which isn’t surprising since these ingredients are common in anti-aging products as well.

collagen supplements

Oral collagen supplements are a better option, and do support natural collagen production. These usually contain hydrolyzed collagen so they’re more easily absorbed into your body. Sometimes other ingredients are added as well, like Vitamin C, Vitamin E or biotin. There are dozens of supplements on the market, but they aren’t regulated by the FDA, be sure to read product labels.

collagen from diet

With diet, you can tackle both sides and also try to slow the breakdown of collagen. Eat a healthy balanced diet with protein-rich foods like bone broth, chicken, fish, beans, and egg whites. Vitamin C is important for collagen also, so get plenty of fruits and vegetables like berries, citrus fruit, and leafy green vegetables for all those free radical-fighting antioxidants!.

Try to avoid too much sugar as well, since eating a lot of sugar will break down collagen, as will excessive alcohol.

collagen-preserving lifestyle

There are other things you can do to preserve collagen. Number one is to stop smoking, because it deprives your skin of oxygen, and is guaranteed to speed up aging. Also very important is protecting skin from the sun – UV radiation breaks down collagen.

And, beauty sleep isn’t a myth! Sleep is very important for your entire body and the restorative processes that happen during sleep. Stress reduction is also key; the stress hormone cortisol interferes with collagen production. So while there isn’t one easy solution for addressing collagen loss, there are things you can do that, really, will benefit your entire body.

Sources: MindBodyGreen.com; Cedars-Sinai; Byrdie.com


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