Naturopath Leisa Armstrong explains the role of collagen in the body, and why you may not be getting enough.
Collagen can be likened to a super-strong nutritional spiderweb that is holding us together. It’s the most abundant protein found in the human body! As well as being a major component of skin, providing strength and cushioning, it’s also found in bones, muscles, cartilage, and tendons. In fact, there is more collagen in your bones than calcium.
However, as we get older, our ability to replenish collagen declines by about 1.5% every year. This is a losing battle on two fronts: one, we can’t make collagen as efficiently as before, and two, the body starts breaking it down. Compounding the problem is that our modern Western diet does not provide much collagen. Given collagen’s role in so many parts of the body, a deficiency can become critical. Are you at risk? Here are the 10 key signs.
Wrinkles and decreased elasticity
Collagen acts as ‘scaffolding’ underneath our skin, so when its levels decline, the skin loses structure and firmness and becomes less elastic, and wrinkles begin to form. While this situation is natural and inevitable, you don’t need to take it lying down! Taking collagen supplements will help to promote the formation of collagen from within, as opposed to facial creams that only reach the outer layers of the skin and therefore have just a short-lived impact. Research has shown that after only eight weeks of collagen supplementation, collagen and elastin levels were increased within the skin, and eye wrinkles decreased by 20 per cent.
The appearance of cellulite often corresponds with the thinning of the dermal layer of skin. Along with decreased elasticity, and abnormal distribution of elastin and collagen fibres within the dermis. This combination results in visible wrinkling and puckering of the skin (ie. cellulite). Research has shown that collagen supplementation decreases the appearance of cellulite after six months.
Around 20 per cent of the population experience soft, dry, weak, easily breakable, peeling or never-growing nails. Collagen supplementation has been found to significantly increase nail growth rate, and to decrease cracked or chipped nails.
Dark circles or sunken-looking eyes are often attributed to dehydration, nutritional deficiencies or poor sleep. Surprisingly, collagen decline is another contributing factor; in fact, the under-eye area is the first place collagen loss becomes noticeable. As collagen decreases, skin becomes thinner and appears translucent, which is why supporting collagen formation may decrease the appearance of dark circles.
As collagen declines, the hair follicles shrink, which results in hair loss. When collagen is surrounding your hair follicles, it allows micro-blood vessels to deliver essential nutrients to the hair that keep it healthy. Collagen supplementation also provides the key building blocks for the hair’s production of keratin.
Periodontal diseases like gingivitis result in collagen degradation, which causes gums to recede and teeth to loosen. Modern medical treatments may even include collagen grafts for the gums.
Slow wound healing
Optimal wound healing protects the skin from infection and also decreases scar formation. Oral collagen supplementation has been shown to markedly improve wound healing time and appearance outcomes.
Research shows collagen supplementation is chondroprotective* and anti-inflammatory to the joints associated with osteoarthritis or joint injury. This means that collagen not only delays the narrowing of the joint space, but also decreases joint pain and stiffness.
*Chondrocytes are cells found in healthy cartilage.
Tendons and ligaments are connective tissues that hold muscles and bones together, and collagen is responsible for their extraordinary strength and elasticity. Athletes are particularly susceptible to tendon and ligament injury. The thicker the tendon, the stronger it is, with research showing collagen supplementation can thicken the Achilles tendon.
Osteoporosis is a condition where bones become weak, thin and fragile, often resulting in easy breakages. Collagen supplementation has been shown to increase bone formation and reduce bone degradation, therefore protecting against osteoporosis.
If you have any of these 10 signs of collagen deficiency, it’s time to add a quality collagen supplement to your diet. The Morlife® Collagen Pantry™ range is ideal, featuring premium Verisol® Hydrolysed Collagen Peptides along with key cofactors. Collagen Pantry™ is a range of products which has something for everyone, including Beauty Brew, Beauty Greens, Beauty Proteins and Beauty Waters.