Aging is a natural biological process that begins in early adulthood and continues throughout life. As we age, certain changes happen to the body, both internally and externally, which can impact the way we look and feel.
Because collagen plays an important role in many of these changes, it is widely believed that supporting the body’s natural collagen synthesis may help support healthy aging.
What is collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body and the primary structural component of our cells and tissues. It is found nearly everywhere—in our bones, blood vessels, skin, hair, nails, eyes, muscles, joints, and even the delicate lining of the digestive tract.
Not only does collagen provide structural support for the body, but it also keeps our skin strong and supple and plays an important role in bone and joint health. All of these functions make collagen a key factor in the aging process.
Unfortunately, collagen production slows down as we age.
On top of that, lifestyle factors such as tobacco use, a high-sugar diet, and sun exposure can also contribute to a decline in collagen production.
There goes all that strength and resilience we rely on daily.
As we age, collagen cross-linking and depletion can lead to common signs of aging in the skin, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones. With less collagen, our skin loses elasticity and we may develop wrinkles and other visible signs of aging. Our hair typically loses its luster and becomes thinner. Our connective tissue changes and loses mass, which can lead to stiffness or tenderness in our bones and joints. And all of this is beyond our control.
Or is it?
It’s possible to support natural collagen synthesis as you get older.
And it starts with a healthy diet.
Consuming plenty of protein is paramount to helping your body get the amino acids it needs to produce collagen. On top of that, it is important to eat a diet rich in vitamins A and C, as well as the minerals copper and zinc, which also support collagen synthesis.
Choose foods such as beef, pork, chicken, eggs, fish, bone broth, fresh berries, dark leafy greens, citrus and tropical fruits, garlic, bell peppers, soybeans, wheat germ, avocados, nuts, seeds, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, apricots, carrots, and broccoli.
Hydrolyzed collagen supplements may also provide some of the building blocks our bodies need to make collagen or other proteins.
Because we don’t always get the essential vitamins and minerals we need from our diet, adding a hydrolyzed collagen supplement may provide additional support for collagen synthesis as we get older. Numerous clinical studies have examined the link between collagen-based dietary supplements and healthy aging with positive results.
A recent review published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology assessed the data from several randomized-controlled trials involving the use of collagen supplements. From the existing literature, the authors were able to conclude that, “Preliminary results are promising for the short- and long-term use of oral collagen supplements for aging skin. Oral collagen supplements also increase skin elasticity, hydration, and dermal collagen density.”
A 2019 study published in Current Developments in Nutrition also found a correlation between collagen supplementation and preserving healthy skin as we age. In this study, more than 120 women between the ages of 39 and 59 agreed to take a collagen peptides supplement along with hyaluronic acid and chondroitin sulfate (or a placebo) twice daily for three months. At the end of the study period, participants who received the supplement reported significantly fewer facial lines and wrinkles, increased skin elasticity, a reduction in skin dryness and redness, and a more “youthful skin appearance.”
And, with regard to joint health, a nearly six-month-long study involving young athletes found that taking supplemental hydrolyzed collagen may support joint health.
This represents just a small fraction of the research linking dietary collagen supplements to important benefits for healthy skin, hair, nails, and joints.
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