Our Beauty Secret: Collagen

Americans spend $11 billion every year on face-lifts, Botox injections, and other cosmetic procedures, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. But these do nothing to help your body generate health-improving and beauty-supporting collagen.

What is collagen and why should you care? Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, and it's often considered the "glue" that holds the body together. Collagen fibers are major building blocks in skin, bone, joints (tendons and ligaments), and blood vessels (arteries and veins).

In terms of beauty benefits, collagen supplements have been shown to help to ward off wrinkles, improve skin's tone and texture, strengthen hair, and improve nail health, among other things. Supplements are thought to work by helping the body produce more of its own collagen. For example, vitamin C is one of the top collagen boosters-the formation of collagen is highly dependent on this key vitamin, and if you're deficient in vitamin C, your production of collagen is hindered. 

Here are a few tips for getting the most out of collagen supplements

1. Beautiful Skin Needs Collagen

Collagen in the dermis gives the skin its flexible strength; elastin enables the skin to return to its original shape when tugged and twisted. Beautiful, wrinkle-free skin depends on healthy collagen production. Reduced collagen in the skin causes it to "cave in" and form wrinkles. Conversely, abundant collagen pushes skin "up and out," creating more youthful-looking skin.

2. Healthier Hair

Hair grows in follicles, tube-like structures that originate in the dermis of the skin. At the base of the follicle is the hair bulb, where hair formation cells produce new keratin. There is a portion of collagen-rich dermal tissue that's packed full of capillaries that project into the bottom of the bulb, providing nutrients to the cells and contributing to the health of the hair. So although hair is made from keratin, its health is highly dependent on having adequate collagen. And more collagen in the dermal tissue means greater blood flow to the hair, ensuring an abundant supply of growth-rich nutrients to the hair follicle.

3. Strong Nails

Brittle nails can be caused by a variety of issues, but sometimes people suffer from brittle nails simply because the nail matrix requires more collagen. The nail matrix produces cells that eventually become the nail plate. The size, length, and thickness of the matrix determine the size, length, and thickness of the nail plate. More collagen in the dermis means greater blood flow to the nail matrix, ensuring an abundant supply of growth-rich nutrients to the nail.

Insider Tips on Collagen

We interviewed a few experts in the field of collagen and collagen boosters and here's what they had to say:

  • Look out for proprietary forms of collagen, they are different in that they contain a patented combination of nutrients. For example, Bio-Active+ contains vitamin C from acerola cherries, patented curcumin C3, and a combination of digestive enzymes, probiotics, and prebiotics. 
  • For optimal absorption, use 100% hydrolyzed collagen, not partially hydrolyzed. Non-hydrolyzed collagen can be effective as well, but appears to work in a different way than hydrolyzed forms.
  • Try a marine collagen powder. Fish collagen peptides are smaller than beef collagen peptides, and studies have shown that they are very well absorbed and digested. Many of my naturopathic doctor friends, like Nikki Arguinzoni-Gil, ND, recommend fish collagen supplements for patients with any gut issues or sensitivity, since they are so easy on the gut.

Written by Marita Schauch, BSC, ND for Better Nutrition and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.