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Collagen: Real Supple Skin Is Your New Filter

by Dr Wenus Ho
Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Collagen in a nutshell

We’ve all heard about collagen and how important it is to keep us looking youthful, without any filters from social media. Collagen is the most important protein in the body that forms the connective tissue or main structural support for our bones, joints, and skin. It makes up about 80% of our skin and is what makes our skin more youthful-looking. Imagine collagen as ropes of protein in our skin that is tightly bound. As we get older the ends begin to loosen and fray. So instead of firm-looking skin, they end up looking loose, saggy, and dull.

More production, less breakdown

In order to maintain our collagen levels, we need to reduce the breakdown. This can be done by minimizing exposure to excess UV light, pollution, not smoking, keeping stress down, and eating a clean and low-sugar diet. The other way to do this is to replace lost collagen through reproduction in food and supplements. Collagen can be consumed through the foods we eat like meat, bone broth, fish, eggs, algae, and spirulina. Interestingly, Vitamin C is important for collagen production and is a strong antioxidant that prevents the breakdown of collagen. Loading up on Vitamin C from citrus fruits and berries is a healthy way to do it.

So many options, how are they different?

Collagen in supplement form is more efficient because it has been hydrolyzed, meaning that the collagen long chains have been broken down into shorter chains called collagen peptides which are then more easily absorbed throughout the gut. This is what we called: increased bioavailability, and bioavailability refers to how much of what we consume actually reaches our bloodstream. The more bioavailable a dietary supplement is, the more efficiently it is absorbed, therefore triggering the benefits of the supplement.

There are many types of collagen supplements and creams available in the beauty and wellness industry, and that could be overwhelming. Collagen mostly occurs in the deeper level of the skin, called the dermis (which is lower than the epidermis), it is very hard for topical collagen in creams to reach this level due to the size of the particles. The capsule and powder form supplements have to be broken down by our stomach first, using digestive enzymes before they are absorbed by the gut and then are further metabolized by the liver or kidney before they can enter into the bloodstream. Sprays and other oral preparations on the other hand do not require to be absorbed by the gut and are instead absorbed directly by the oral mucosa and enter into the bloodstream. The advantage of the oral method of absorption is that it is faster to take effect and also will not be affected by our digestive system.

Choose wisely

Collagen is incredibly beneficial for our skin as it serves as the building block for our body to produce our own collagen, and then it also stimulates our fibroblasts which are the natural cells in our body that produces collagen to boost its production rate. Besides, it acts as an antioxidant that helps to prevent the breakdown of our existing collagen.

If we want to age gracefully, then collagen is necessary for us to replenish. We hope this article provides some guidance on choosing the right collagen products for you.

Sources and references:

Healthline – Top 6 Benefits of Taking Collagen Supplements

WebMD – Health Benefits of Collagen

Cedars-Sinai – Collagen for Your Skin: Healthy or Hype?

Everyday Health – 8 Potential Health Benefits of Collagen, and 1 Thing It Can’t Do

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    • MBChB (Edinburgh)
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    • Graduate diploma of family medicine, National university of Singapore
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    • Graduate Diploma of Occupational Medicine, National University of Singapore
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