Are you ingesting your skincare? You should be (sort of).
While many cultures have been doing it for years, the Western world is finally catching up to the benefits of ingesting collagen and the transforming effects it can have on the skin. The most abundant protein in the body, collagen is a major component of the connective tissues that make up several body parts. But as we age, our production of collagen declines.
So, what is collagen, why should we be consuming it and which collagen is best for you? In this article we discover what role collagen plays in the body, how the natural decline in collagen affects us and how supplementation can help.
What is collagen?
Collagen consists of amino acids bound together to form a structural protein found in the various connective tissues in the body. Collagen has many important functions with the main ones involving strengthening your bones and providing your skin with structure and support. It’s also a building block for muscles, tendons and ligaments and is found in blood vessels, corneas and teeth.
The name is Greek and can be broken out into two words, kola meaning ‘glue’ and the suffix -gen meaning ‘producing’. This helps to remember what it does, think of it like the glue that holds all of these things together.
Types of collagen
While there have been up to 28 varieties of collagen identified, there are only three main types you need to know about. These are simply named Type I, II and III. Each has a different role in the body.
- Type I – This is the most abundant in humans and accounts for 90% of your body’s collagen. Its dense fibers provide structure to skin, bones, tendons, fibrous cartilage, connective tissue and teeth.
- Type II – Type II is the main component in cartilage and helps to cushion your joints.
- Type III – Generally found alongside Type I collagen in the body, Type III collagen is found in reticular fibers like bone marrow.
What does collagen do to the skin?
Your skin is made up of three layers, the epidermis, which is the outermost layer, followed by the dermis and the hypodermis. Most of the collagen in our skin is found in the middle layer, the dermis, where it's also produced. Skin cells in the dermis (fibroblasts) synthesize the collagen that holds the rest of the dermis together, giving our skin its underlying structure. Collagen provides the skin with elasticity and helps to make skin look refreshed, supple and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
Why supplement with collagen?
The main reason to ingest collagen is that we don’t make enough of it. 80% of collagen is found in the skin but after the age of 25, our bodies break down more collagen than they make. In fact, after 25 you start losing about one percent of your collagen each year.
Other factors like excessive sun exposure, smoking and pollution also activate enzymes which degrade collagen fibers and cause skin aging. By taking a collagen supplement, you can help to increase collagen and restore the fibers in the skin.
Foods with collagen?
Because of the nature of collagen (being produced in the body) the only way to get collagen from food is through other animals. There is no known vegan/vegetarian source of collagen. Good dietary sources of collagen include:
- Bone broth
- Chicken, pork and salmon skin
It’s also beneficial to increase your intake of vitamin C as it plays a major role in the production of pro-collagen, the body’s precursor to collagen. Foods such as leafy greens, broccoli, citrus and red capsicum are filled with vitamin C and may also help with skin cell repair and regeneration.
What are collagen supplement benefits?
When production of collagen slows due to the aging process, taking a collagen supplement can help to support the body’s natural levels of production. Putting a collagen cream or serum on your skin can provide short term benefits for the epidermis (the outermost layer of skin) but won’t get to where it’s needed the most, in the dermis (second layer). By taking a supplement rather than applying collagen topically, you are helping to increase the natural production of collagen so that it can fortify and build collagen in the dermal layer of the skin. This helps to support the structure of the skin from the inside out and provide a longer-term solution.
By taking a collagen supplement you are supporting your skin to:
- Increase collagen levels in the skin dermis
- Age healthily
- Improve skin elasticity
- Reduce facial lines and depth of wrinkles
- Increase skin hydration
What are collagen supplements made from?
Interestingly, not all collagen is the same. Depending on where it’s sourced from and which of the 28 types it contains, it can have different benefits. The two most common are bovine and marine, or cow and fish collagen.
- Bovine – Bovine collagen is made up of the skin, bones and muscles of cows and is rich in type I and type III collagen. These are abundant in the body and are found mainly in the eyes, bones, joints, ligaments and skin. This makes bovine collagen good for supporting joint, bone and gut health as well as promoting wound healing in the skin.
- Marine – Marine collagen is sourced from the bones, scales and skin of fish. It is rich in type I collagen which accounts for 90% of the collagen in the human body. A study has shown that marine collagen peptides are smaller, making them more easily absorbed and digested. This enhanced absorption makes it easier for your body to flood your skin with the molecules. Another benefit of marine collagen is that it is rich in antioxidants which block harmful free radicals and can protect the skin from oxidative stress.
What is hydrolyzed collagen?
As it is, collagen is not very palatable. Chewing on ligaments, tendons and skin in order to get the appropriate levels of collagen every day isn’t practical. Hydrolysing the collagen is a chemical process in which you break the protein chains into smaller peptides which are easier to digest.
Benefits of hydrolyzed collagen
Smaller peptides have numerous benefits. Hydrolysation turns collagen into a powder which makes it more dissolvable in liquids and able to be turned into pills. The collagen is essentially tasteless and odorless which makes it much more accessible and convenient.
Best way to take collagen, pills vs powders?
Taking a supplement rather than ingesting a powder has its benefits. A powder requires being added to another liquid or food to be consumed. While making it hydrolysed helps with its dissolvability, there’s normally some residue and lumpiness that’s hard to avoid. Despite best efforts, it’s very difficult to make the collagen powder ‘completely’ odorless and tasteless. For some people with sensitive noses and stomachs, this can be an issue. Companies tend to mix other ingredients, like flavorings and sweeteners to the powders to make them more palatable which can cause you to consume unnecessary artificial ingredients and calories.
So, which collagen is best for me?
At MitoQ, we spent a lot of time researching the best forms of collagen for our skin supplement, MitoQ Skin Support Complex. Collactive™ Marine Collagen Complex came out on top for numerous reasons.
- Collactive™ Collagen Complex is 100% marine based, from wild caught cod, pollock, haddock and plaice.
- It’s a fine powder composed of 94% Type I hydrolyzed collagen and 6% elastin oligopeptides, the same ratio found in human skin.
- This helps to lift and tone the skin, whilst also providing valuable moisture retention.
- The ingredient has a very low molecular weight – allowing it to be fully digested and enhancing bioefficacy. This makes it an ideal healthy-aging ingredient for an ingestible formulation.
- This form of collagen combines the two main constituents of the skin’s extracellular matrix and has a smoothing action: elastin fibers give the dermis suppleness that complements the tensile strength of collagen fibers.
- Collactive™ has been demonstrated effective at a 2-gram use level compared with other collagen ingredients that are recommended at 5- to 10-gram levels.
- Collactive™ is an all-natural ingredient that’s fully traceable and sustainably produced.
- Supports a cooperative of fisheries in Boulogne-sur-Mer, France - Europe's leading port for fish processing.
As well as collagen, MitoQ Skin Support Complex combines ceremides and hyaluronic acid to improve your skin's firmness, hydration and promote a healthy, radiant appearance. Also, our hero, world-first ingredient mitoquinol (an advanced form of CoQ10), designed to support your mitochondrial function and help the defence of free radical damage internally. This supports the skin’s water-retention properties, fibrous tissues and healthy growth of new cells, leaving your skin rejuvenated, hydrated and energized.
How long before I see benefits?
Our skin cells regenerate every four to six weeks, so it’ll take some commitment before you start seeing the results of adding a collagen supplement to your beauty routine. We recommend sticking with it for a full three months to experience a meaningful difference, but many people report a change after a few weeks.
Plus, unlike other skin supplements on the market, not only do MitoQ skin supplements benefit your skin health, they support the health of all your body’s cells. So, in addition to their direct skin benefits, by helping you maintain overall organ health, you’re further supporting healthy skin.