There is a lot of misinformation on collagen and how it's used by our bodies. Lets take a look at what actually happens when you have that collagen shake, or add collagen to your coffee.
DID YOU KNOW THIS ABOUT COLLAGEN?
When you ingest collagen through your diet or as a dietary supplement, it doesn't necessarily get used directly as collagen in your skin, and in particular your facial skin. Instead, it goes through a complex process of digestion, absorption, and synthesis before it can contribute to collagen production in your skin and other tissues.
Here's an overview of the process collagen goes through once it's ingested:
1. Digestion: Collagen, whether from dietary sources like bone broth or as a supplement, is a protein made up of long chains of amino acids. These chains are too large to be absorbed directly into the bloodstream. Therefore, during digestion, the body breaks down collagen into its constituent amino acids. Enzymes in the stomach and small intestine work to cleave these long chains.
2. Absorption: After digestion, the individual amino acids, including glycine, proline, hydroxyproline, and others, are absorbed through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream. From there, they circulate throughout the body.
3. Distribution: The amino acids derived from collagen are not specifically earmarked for collagen production. Instead, they are distributed to various cells and tissues in the body based on the body's needs. Some may be used for energy, while others may be utilized to build proteins essential for different functions.
4. Collagen Synthesis: Collagen production in the body is a highly regulated process that occurs in specialized cells called fibroblasts. These cells use the amino acids, particularly proline, glycine, and hydroxyproline, to create new collagen molecules. The amino acids serve as building blocks in the synthesis of collagen fibrils, which make up the structural framework of skin, connective tissues, and more.
5. Collagen Deployment: Once synthesized, the new collagen molecules are deposited and integrated into the extracellular matrix of various tissues. In the skin, for example, collagen provides structural support, helping maintain its firmness, elasticity, and youthful appearance. Since it can be used almost anywhere in the body, it's probably not going to result in a softening of facial lines and wrinkles.
Eat Your Protein
It's important to note that the body's ability to produce collagen declines with age. This decline is one of the reasons why the skin ages, leading to wrinkles, sagging, and reduced elasticity. Factors like UV exposure, smoking, and poor nutrition can also accelerate collagen breakdown.
While ingesting collagen may provide some amino acids that can support collagen synthesis, the efficacy of dietary collagen in directly boosting collagen levels in the skin is a topic of ongoing research and debate. You're probably better off simply eating high quality protein sources. Some studies suggest that collagen supplements may have benefits for skin health, while others have found mixed results. The extent to which ingested collagen contributes to the collagen in the skin is influenced by various factors, including the individual's diet, overall health, and genetics.
As such, it's crucial to maintain a balanced diet rich in protein (plant or animal amino acids) and nutrients that support collagen production, including vitamin C and zinc. Consider collagen supplements as part of a comprehensive skincare and wellness strategy in the event your diet is incomplete.