With it comprising three-quarters of your skin and a third of your body’s protein, you need collagen to maintain healthy joints, strength, and skin elasticity. Collagen is a protein that provides structure to your skin, bones, tendons, and other connective tissues.

It’s found in your bones, muscles and blood and is created naturally through a combinative action via amino acids in food containing Vitamin C, proline, glycine, zinc or copper.

During the natural process of aging, our bodies start losing proteins. Collagen happens to be one of them.

What Happens When the Body Loses Collagen

Our bodies produce collagen throughout our lives. However, production starts to decrease at about age 30, which can lead to wrinkled skin, thinning skin, body aches, and face hollowing. More concerning issues such as  joint stiffness, connective tissue ulcers and digestive problems can also occur.

People experiencing any of the serious health issues mentioned above should consider getting checked for collagen deficiency. It’s important to consult with your doctor as it can lead to serious health conditions such as scurvy, osteogenesis imperfecta and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.

Age, genetic conditions, and illness are not all that can lead to lower levels of collagen. A poor diet, tobacco smoking, secondhand smoke and exposure to UVA rays from the sun are also factors.

How Collagen Loss Plays Out Amongst Races

While natural loss will begin around the age of 30, some racial groups will experience it sooner than others.

Research shows that Caucasians are the most impacted. This is due to their skin having a thinner dermis and bigger collagen fiber bundles, which results in Caucasian skin containing the least amount of of the protein. Low pigmentation in Caucasian skin also plays a role in collagen breaking down sooner than for other racial groups.

According to research, Black and Asian people experience collagen loss at a slower rate for different reasons.

Black people have a favorable arrangement of the protein in their skin. With smaller collagen bundles, Black skin can cultivate structural integrity and a youthful appearance longer than Caucasian skin.

Asian skin has a thicker dermis that contains more collagen. According to research, Asian people won’t begin to see wrinkles until they are in their 50s.

How to Improve Your Levels

While collagen loss is a natural process, there are various options available to improve your levels ranging from making better eating choices to medical treatments.

Lifestyle Changes

Sugary treats and carbs like pasta and bread can be irresistible, but they do more harm than good for your skin. A diet consisting of a list of foods containing either Vitamin C, zinc, copper, proline and glycine such as bone broth, dark green, leafy vegetables, berries, citrus fruits, shellfish, nuts and whole grains may help your body’s collagen production.

Smoking, which is also irresistible for some, decreases production. Not only that but exposing others to secondhand smoke can affect their production. Putting down tobacco can help maintain a strong collagen production for yourself and others.

With summer around the corner, many are excited to spend a sunny day at the beach and catching sun rays for a perfect tan. However, remember that too much UVA ray exposure from the sun can affect your collagen production.

Medical Treatments

Laser skin treatments are medical treatments used to help improve your body’s collagen. The treatment uses a high-energy beam that targets the uppermost layers of skin, causing them to peel away. One of the results will be an increased production of collagen. Laser treatments can vary, with Fraxel lasers being one of the more suitable options for this purpose.

Microneedling is another option of medical treatment for better collagen production. During this minimally invasive procedure, your healthcare provider will use thin needles to create tiny holes in the top layer of your skin. The miniature holes in the skin vitalize your skin’s healing process to produce more collagen.

Injectable dermal fillers containing substances like hyaluronic acid or collagen itself can be used to plump up the skin and stimulate collagen production. These fillers can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and add volume to the skin.

Retinoids, such as retinol, are derivatives of vitamin A that are known to stimulate collagen production when applied topically. They work by increasing cell turnover and stimulating collagen synthesis in the skin.

With Vitamin C being essential for collagen production, it is available in many active forms to help stimulate production. Vitamin C in a topical cream form is one option. Along with supporting collagen production within the body, the cream also reduces the appearances of fine lines and wrinkles.

Some people turn to plant medicine such as ginseng and aloe vera as another option to boost collagen. Very few studies – if any – have been able to definitively demonstrate the benefits of plant medicine on collagen production.

Supplements for Collagen

Collagen supplements approved by Health Canada come in different forms, from pills and powders (collagen peptide) for oral consumption to creams for the skin. At this time, there isn’t enough evidence that taking collagen orally will make a difference in skin, hair, or nails.

While the medical community agrees that there seems to be no harm in taking collagen supplements, the jury is out on whether they actually help.

If you’re considering taking a supplement, do your research and consult with a healthcare provider. Doctors may recommend taking supplements if you are not already feeding your body the nutrients it needs for a healthy collagen production.

Natural aging is a beautiful thing. While healthy eating is the best way to maintain strong collagen production, you have a variety of options to maintain a healthy amount of collagen for the health of your skin and joints.

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