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How does collagen work? - Beneficial for joints and skin

The word ‘collagen’ is on everyone’s lips, and for good reason. Collagen, after all, accounts for more than 30% of human proteins and is an important building block in our connective tissue. Forms of connective tissue includes bones, cartilage, tendons, and skin.  

What is collagen?

Collagen production is a complex process which takes certain amino acids – the building blocks of proteins – and links them together over several steps in a biochemical pathway.

There are over 25 different types of collagen. The collagen contained within the skin has a unique biochemical composition and serves to maintain the integrity and elasticity of the skin.

The effect of collagen

Against optical skin aging

As proven in scientific studies, collagen fibers lose thickness and strength as we age. This process has been shown to be associated with skin aging (1).

There are, however, various methods to replenish the body with collagen. In addition to food supplements, which promote regeneration of bone and cartilage, collagen can also be introduced into the body in the form of creams (2).

Moisture content of the skin

A further study demonstrated that the intake of collagen peptides over an 8-week period led to a measurable increase in the moisture content of the skin. In addition, the study showed an increase in collagen density that lasted up to 12 weeks after supplementation ended (3).

Treatment of sun-exposed skin

In a 2020 study using a population of 36 postmenopausal women, a 4-week trial of marine collagen led to a significant improvement in the elasticity of the skin in sun-exposed areas. This improvement persisted for a further 4 weeks after the trial ended (4).

Can topical products stimulate collagen production?

There are indeed products that, when applied to the skin, can lead to an improvement in collagen production. Since the body can only produce collagen with the help of vitamin C, it’s recommended to use products containing this vitamin. Even at concentrations below 5%, vitamin C promotes the desired effect (5).

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Bibliography

  1. Rodríguez, María & Rodriguez Barroso, Laura & Sánchez, Mirna. (2017). Collagen: A review on its sources and potential cosmetic applications. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. 17. 10.1111/jocd.12450.
  2. Avila Rodríguez MI1, Rodríguez Barroso LG1, Sánchez ML2. Collagen: A review on its sources and potential cosmetic applications. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2018 Feb;17(1):20-26. doi: 10.1111/jocd.12450. Epub 2017 Nov 16.
  3. Asserin J1, Lati E2, Shioya T3, Prawitt J4. The effect of oral collagen peptide supplementation on skin moisture and the dermal collagen network: evidence from an ex vivo model and randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2015 Dec;14(4):291-301. doi: 10.1111/jocd.12174. Epub 2015 Sep 12.
  4. Sangsuwan W, Asawanonda P. Four-Weeks Daily Intake of Oral Collagen Hydrolysate Results in Improved Skin Elasticity, Especially in Sun-Exposed Areas: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. J Dermatolog Treat. 2020 Feb 1:1-19
  5. Gallarate M, Charlotti ME, Trotta M, Bovo S. On the stability of ascorbic acid in emulsified systems for topical and cosmetic use. Int J Pharm 1998; 188:233–241