Collagen is a protein that your body naturally produces, and surprisingly it makes up about 75% of the dry weight of your skin and about 25-30% of your total body protein. However, after turning 25 years old, collagen production levels begin to decline gradually at a rate of 1.5% per year and a series of issues appear both in terms of health and aesthetics.
It's from that moment when we start to notice problems in those areas of our body where collagen plays an important role.
Collagen is responsible for giving structure to the connective tissues of the body in muscles, tendons, ligaments, skin, bones, cartilage, and organs; therefore, it is responsible for its degree of firmness and elasticity.
In practical terms, collagen is essential for your joints to absorb the impact of your movements, for your skin to stay hydrated and firm, and for your muscles to have good resistance and the ability to heal quickly.
It sounds like an important protein, right?
Therefore, it is not surprising that people try to reverse or slow down their loss.
Consequences of collagen deficiency
There are clues that may indicate that you are losing collagen at an accelerated rate, some of them are:
- Premature aging
- Increased discomfort in the joints and muscles
- Loss of elasticity and smoothness in the skin
- Weak nails and hair
- Deficiencies in the cardiovascular and lymphatic system
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If you experience any of these changes, progressive collagen loss may be the reason.
And age is not the only factor that plays against us, there are also external factors that can contribute to the acceleration of the loss of this protein, such as smoking, excessive sun exposure, stress, and a poor diet.
The good news is that there are also positive factors that help us slow down this progressive loss, some are easier to apply than others, but it is important to know them and adapt them to your routine and lifestyle. The multiple benefits of collagen make it worth it.
Positive factors to reduce your collagen loss
1. Controlled and protected sun exposureA small amount of UV rays is good for you, in fact, UV rays are essential for vitamin D production and a proper circadian rhythm (the body's internal clock). But the sun also can harm us.
When we are exposed to the sun excessively and without protection, UV radiation can cause collagen to break down at a faster rate than it occurs naturally, even when it is cold and cloudy.
In order to enjoy the sun without damaging your skin, you can follow these simple tips:
- Avoid sunburns by applying sunscreen every day before going outside
- Avoiding direct sunlight is another important step toward protecting against collagen loss because it reduces the amount of time that our skin is exposed to harmful UV rays
- Tanning beds should be avoided as well
- Finally—and this may seem obvious—avoid peak hours: between 10 AM and 4 PM specially on clear days when there’s no cloud cover.
2. Emotions and stress management
Stress is one of the biggest culprits behind your body's accelerated aging process, and given everything we've been through in recent years, it's not a surprise that many people's stress levels are running high.
But we know more than ever that the connection between mind and body is clear. If your mind indicates that you are in a constant situation of stress, your body will generate high amounts of cortisol (the stress hormone) that tend to degrade the skin's collagen, forming wrinkles and fine lines.
So, to control or stop this pathway of collagen loss, consider including in your daily routine activities that generate well-being and help you release stress, such as sports, meditation, going out with friends, etc.
Haven't you noticed that when you have periods of time where you sleep better and feel in balance, your skin looks much smoother and fresher?
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3. Healthy diet
Diet plays a surprisingly important role in your body's ability to produce collagen. These are some foods that you can incorporate into your diet and the benefits they could bring you:
Broths: When cooking vegetables or meats, much of the collagen is concentrated in the broth. The protein from the legume and also from the ligaments, tendons, and muscles of the meat are released into the cooking water, which can then be directly drunk or used as a liquid ingredient for other preparations.
It's a public debate whether broth really works and whether its benefits are scientifically proven, but that hasn't diminished its popularity as a home preparation to help maintain good collagen levels in the body.
Fish: Fish contains abundant amounts of collagen and has a superior bioavailability than bovine or porcine collagen, meaning it can be more easily absorbed by the body.
It is important that to take advantage of the collagen in fish, you leave the skin on, because much of the collagen is found there.
Fish also tend to be rich in zinc, a mineral that has many functions in cell metabolism and is a required nutrient in collagen production.
Nuts: Cashew nuts, peanuts, almonds, and walnuts are good sources of lysine. Lysine and vitamin C are converted into the amino acid hydroxylysine, and that is key to collagen production.
Jelly: It is directly a cooked form of collagen and contains about 90% of this protein. Gelatin is a way of ingesting the amino acids and nutrients that are located in the joints and tendons of animals, necessary to produce collagen.
However, it should be included in the diet with caution, since most commercial products contain added sugar, artificial colors and flavors, which can significantly affect their nutritional profile.
Foods high in vitamin C: also known as ascorbic acid, it is a powerful antioxidant that plays a very important role in the synthesis of collagen.
When there is not an adequate amount of vitamin C in the body, collagen production decreases.
It also protects the skin from pollutants and UV rays that break down collagen. The main source of vitamin C are fruits and vegetables:
- Brussels sprouts / Cauliflower
- Red and green peppers
- Citric fruits like acerola or oranges
- Strawberries / Raspberries / Blackberries
- Green leaves
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4. Intake of collagen supplements
When the production of collagen begins to decrease in our body for one reason or another, the consumption of a daily collagen supplement is a good ally to help slow down this process and boost production again.
This supplement is obtained from animal tissues rich in collagen such as skin, bones, cartilage, spines, and scales.
It is a fairly complex process, which allows chemical decomposition due to reaction with water, hydrolysis, whose elaboration is aimed at converting animal collagen into a protein that can be assimilated by the human body, which can be easily incorporated into the diet, in a way that once digested, it is able to cross the intestinal barrier and be used by the body to produce the expected health effects.
The benefit is multiplied when collagen is combined with hyaluronic acid and vitamin C, due to the benefits they provide when they act together.
Source: Green Elephant
There are other factors that would also help you slow down the loss of collagen, but these are 4 of the most important, and in addition, they will have other benefits for your general well-being and are very simple to incorporate as habits into your daily routine.
Source: Green Elephant
And you, how do you think your collagen levels are?
Nobody knows your needs better than you, but it is important that you incorporate small changes into your current routine to benefit your health, both physical and mental.
There are numerous brands of collagen supplements on the market, we recommend you consume it with vitamin C, or buy one that already has it and that fits your other needs and healthy goals.
One option is Marine Collagen with Vitamin C and Hyaluronic Acid from Green Elephant, which will help you slow down the effects of collagen loss, and will stimulate your natural collagen production, even more if it is complemented with a balanced diet, physical activity, and skin care.