What’s the Deal with Collagen Supplements?

We’re all chasing collagen as we get older. It’s kind of like a modern-day fountain of youth whose pursuit would make Ponce de Leon proud. Walk down the skin care section of a drug store and every lotion, it seems, boasts of the collagen in its formulation. There are even pure collagen creams, and powder or tablet supplements. They promise shinier hair, better skin, and less wrinkles, among other stuff.

So, does it work? Hmm. Probably iffy, but let’s get into it a bit in this springy blog from your laser hair removal pals at Romeo & Juliette.

What is collagen, and why’s it a big deal?

Collagen is a protein that provides structure for our skin, hair, nails, connective tissue, cartilage, bones, and joints. Collagen consists of amino acids, glycine, proline, hydroxyproline, and arginine. Of our body’s proteins, collagen makes up about 30 percent of the load.

You’ve probably heard of its importance for our skin and our joints. And this is true. The problem is that as we age, our collagen production drops by roughly one additional percentage point every year after our 20th birthday. That’s why our aging skin becomes saggy and forms wrinkles. It also allows our tendons and ligaments to swell more easily.

Men and women lose collagen at the same rate, but men have thicker skin than women, so they have more collagen density. That means women’s skin will show the decline before men because men start with more.

So, how do we get more of this stuff?

How about creams?

You may have seen products with claims that applying the collagen topically will boost the amount of collagen within the skin. There is really not any data to support this. Doctors note that collagen molecules are too big to be absorbed in this way. The molecules can’t cross the skin barrier, so the creams really only work as moisturizers, just like a lotion with aloe, for instance.

OK, how about tablets or powders?

There is some research that claims collagen supplements taken orally seem to reduce wrinkles, but the studies aren’t exactly completely scientific. Again, reality is that collagen is broken down in the gut during digestion into smaller molecules such as peptides and amino acids. There is little evidence that collagen can survive digestion to hit the bloodstream in high enough quantities to make any real change in the skin.

Diet is a better way

There is science behind one way to get the amino acids necessary to get your body to create more collagen — eating a good diet. Diets rich in protein found in meat, eggs, fish, and nuts give the body lots of amino acids, which it uses to produce collagen. Research shows that this is the best way to help the body produce the collagen needed to repair cartilage, joints, and other connective tissue.

So, you’re probably better off saving the money you’re tossing at collagen supplements and lotions and put it toward buying and eating salmon, fruit, nuts, olive oil, and berries. Your body’s other functions will like that better, as well.

Or you could use some of that money you save to get rid of some unwanted hair permanently with laser hair removal at Romeo & Juliette Laser Hair Removal. Call us at (212) 750-2000 to set up a free consultation.

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