Build Collagen for Outer Beauty
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body and is often described as the glue that holds everything together. Collagen, in the form of elongated fibrils, is mostly found in fibrous tissues such as tendons, ligaments and the dermis of the skin where it acts as a structural scaffold. It is also abundant in the cornea of the eye, cartilage, bones, blood vessel walls, the gut lining, intervertebral discs in our backbone, and also in teeth and nails.
There are three key “beauty” proteins in the body, collagen, elastin and keratin. Collagen is the key structural protein that works with elastin to provide the skin with strength, smoothness and elasticity while keratin is what protects the outer layer of the skin, keeps our skin waterproof and makes up 95 percent of our hair. When we are young, we have an abundance of these three proteins which is why children and teenagers have beautiful shiny hair and smooth skin. Unfortunately, as we age, our body’s production of collagen and other structural proteins starts to slow down, our skin starts to lose its elasticity and, sadly, we start to notice sagging skin and wrinkles.
Needless to say there are countless anti-aging creams that contain collagen claiming to plump up the skin and hopefully turn back the clock. What most people don’t realize is that collagen is a fairly large molecule that cannot be absorbed whole through the skin unless it undergoes extensive processing to break it down. Most of these creams simply stay on the skin and do not build collagen within the body.
The way to build collagen within the body is to provide the body with the right nutritional building blocks. As collagen is a protein, it is important to eat enough quality clean protein to provide the amino acids necessary for building these important structural body proteins.
Dietary supplements for collagen building have become popular in recent years but just like collagen skin creams; whole collagen supplements cannot be absorbed. The digestive system breaks down collagen just like any other protein and uses the constituent peptides and amino acids for whatever purposes it needs, which may or may not include making collagen—depending on other bodily needs.
Bottom line: You can’t eat collagen to build collagen because you can’t absorb it, but you can help your body to make collagen and the other beauty proteins by consuming the right diet along with key co-nutrients needed for collagen production in the body. Some products are made with collagen peptides, which are made when collagen is processed and treated with enzymes, but again there is no guarantee when they are digested that the body will use their components to build collagen.
Recently Bone Broth Protein hit the market. These powders are usually obtained from cow hide or chicken bones which are then processed and treated with enzymes to predigest them, but you still run into the same issue. These building blocks may be used for anything once they are absorbed—it’s a lottery what they will be used for, if and when they are absorbed.
Collagen is only found in animals and there is no plant source of collagen in plants. However, there is good news for vegans when it comes to building collagen and maintaining beautiful radiant skin as there are many plant sources of the co-nutrients needed for building collagen in the body.
So the nutritional message for healthy skin and building collagen is simple. Eat a diet with adequate amounts of quality protein, whether it be vegan protein or animal protein, as long as it is clean quality organic protein, and be sure to get all the important vitamins, minerals and co-nutrients needed for building collagen.
Our skin health reflects our diet and our internal health. Radiant skin requires us to consume a healthy diet providing not only protein but all the nutrients needed for building and protecting healthy skin which includes vitamins A, C and E along with all the B vitamins, plus minerals especially Zinc and Silicon.
Many of the current leading hair, skin and nail supplements include Biotin, vitamin C and Silicon which are important co-factors needed to build collagen. Silica is usually obtained from sand or rocks and is not typically not derived from organic food or plant sources such as bamboo shoots which provide silica with its natural co-factors.
Vitamin C is essential for collagen production and plays an important role as an antioxidant protecting the skin from free radical damage, along with anti-aging benefits. When people are deficient in vitamin C their collagenous tissues will start to breakdown. Vitamin C helps us to utilize proteins in the diet which are needed to build collagen, keratin and elastin. Food sources of vitamin C, notably Amla berries, have been used in traditional Aryuveda for skin health for centuries.
Biotin which is actually vitamin B7 is sometimes referred to as vitamin H (for hair) and is a common ingredient found in supplements for hair, skin and nails. Organic Sesbania grandiflora is a natural plant source of biotin.
As skin ages, reactive oxygen species, associated with many aspects of aging, lead to increased production of the enzyme collagenase, which breaks down collagen. Antioxidants and polyphenols are very vital to protect the skin from this free radical damage and help prevent aging by inhibiting the breakdown of cells by oxidation. They also help to protect the skin from sun and smoke damage. Beneficial antioxidants such as organic turmeric, high-polyphenol pomegranate and various teas including organic green teas and organic rooibis teas are greatly favored for their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-aging skin benefits.
So the next time you look in the mirror, remember these wonderful botanical whole food nutrients are beneficial for building collagen and supporting healthy hair, skin and nails.