The older we get, the more common it is to look in the mirror and notice new fine lines and wrinkles. However, though you know this happens, you may not know exactly why it happens. The simple answer is collagen. Over time, our bodies tend to lose it, but recent studies show that it might also be possible to replace it. Here’s exactly what that means.
Collagen is one of many natural proteins that exists in the body. Different proteins have different jobs, and one of collagen’s jobs is keeping your skin firm and smooth. Though your skin continually produces collagen, the amount you produce slows down over time. Because of that slower production, your skin begins to lose its tautness and elasticity, and this is when wrinkles appear.
Though age is one of the most common factors, other lifestyle factors can cause rapid collagen loss. People who smoke cigarettes may experience slower collagen production. Even the smoke can cause irreparable collagen loss. Additionally, high sugar consumption and lots of exposure to UV rays can also affect your body’s ability to produce collagen.
Rapid collagen loss also causes signs of premature aging, such as wrinkled skin. You may also notice other symptoms. This is because collagen plays other roles in the body, too—it contains amino acids that help your body maintain and repair tendons, joints, and bones. Even if you don’t smoke, limit your sun exposure, and eat little sugar, you’ll still experience this, and sooner than you think. The rate at which your body uses collagen outpaces how quickly your body can make it as early as your mid-20s.
So what can you do to ensure your body has enough collagen?
For one thing, you can ditch those bad habits—or, at the very least, take steps to protect yourself, like wearing sunscreen. Another thing you can do is ingest collagen in the form of a supplement, powder, or collagen-rich foods. Yes, really.
High-collagen foods have been around for centuries and are still regularly consumed across Asia. If you don’t want to switch up your diet, though, there’s a much easier way to get the recommended amount of collagen every day, and that’s in the form of collagen supplements.
Studies suggest these supplements can improve skin, reduce arthritis pain, help wounds heal faster, and prevent muscle wasting. They were shown to be especially effective in senior citizens, and scientists are hopeful it can be a low-cost, non-addictive way to help heal wounds and reduce pain. Fortunately, it doesn’t seem like collagen’s benefits are limited exclusively to seniors.