Who doesn’t want to stay young forever? But, who can fight against the inevitable role of nature? Well, there have been major scientific outbreaks in this context. Our scientists have made several attempts to come up with a solution to reverse aging. Many attempts were completely shunned due to their invalidated results, while many are still in progress. One such recently claimed mantra to reverse aging is collagen supplement.
Ever wondered, why is aging considered so horrid? Why does your skin develop wrinkles, bone, muscles and joints become weak, hair becomes thin and many such other consequences come along with a progressing age? The answer to this question lies in just one word, i.e., “collagen”. Your young toned skin, strong bones and joints and a head full of healthy hair are all because of abundance of collagen you are born with.
Collagen is nothing but the most commonly found protein in your body. It forms the connective tissue of your vital organs, ligaments, joints, tendons, skin, hair and nails. When your vital organs and your tissues undergo any kind of damage, your collagen production increases to repair the damage.
However, this magical protein is produced only up to your mid and late 20s. When you hit your 30s, your collagen production declines, manifesting as those fine lines and wrinkles which you completely despise. As you age further, this collagen deterioration presents itself as a myriad of degenerative issues, such as hair loss, osteoporosis, hypertension, diabetes, stroke, macular degeneration, dementia and several other dreadful conditions. However, owing to the stressful life we all are leading, early age fine lines and wrinkles are not uncommon.
Now that you know that depleting collagen has aged you, don’t you think that its supplementation seems the perfect solution to fix aging? If yes, you are on the same page as most of the researchers working in this domain. Our researchers believe that collagen supplementation can work wonders in reversing aging. In fact, collagen capsules and injections have been in the limelight since long. Dr. Stefanie Williams, a leading dermatologist in London, preaches the use of collagen capsules. She recommends the use of these capsules for a three-month duration to complement the beneficial effects of cosmetic treatment to her patients.
The concept of collagen in aging may have intrigued you and you must wonder what they put in these supplements. Well, it’s definitely not natural collagen. For any supplement to work to its full potential, it has to go through your acidic stomach and get absorbed in your intestine to finally reach your bloodstream. In case of collagen, it being a protein has to break down into its constituting amino acids to be absorbed by the intestine. Naturally occurring collagen is a huge molecule to be processed by the body, thus questioning its efficiency in reversing aging. However, eminent scientists have developed a way to make it effective. Powdered collagen supplements have something known as “hydrolyzed collagen” as an active ingredient. It is basically a broken-down form of natural collagen. This is derived from animals such as cows, chickens, fish, etc. Since this form of collagen is simpler in its molecular structure, it can be easily digested and absorbed by your digestive tract.
Now the question arises, how do these collagen supplements act to reverse aging? Researchers suggest that when you consume these supplements, there is a sudden increase in the amount of hydrolyzed collagen in your blood, which tricks your body into thinking there has been some damage that has to be fixed. So, your body produces collagen to repair the damage. Thus, collagen supplement itself doesn’t play the entire role in the reversal of aging. It just provides the building blocks for the body to produce its own collagen. It has also been postulated that the collagen supplements stimulate the release of growth factors in the body, which in turn have a reparative effect.
As already mentioned, these miraculous supplements are available in several forms, such as powders, tablets, capsules, pills, etc. With so many options, comes a big dilemma, i.e., what should one opt for? The choice is governed by various factors. One such factor is the rate of absorption. Studies have been done to assess the disparity in the absorption of the supplements in various forms. It has been seen that within six hours of having the powdered supplement, 95 per cent of the absorbed collagen reach a particular layer of skin, known as dermis. Now, dermis is the target area of these supplements. This is so because the peptides (i.e., short chains of amino acids) undergo remodeling in dermis to rejuvenate the aging skin. On the other hand, tablets and pills of collagen take 40 minutes to be broken down but have an absorption rate of just 20% to 30%.
Another advantage posed by powdered collagen supplement is that it is stable in liquids for 30 minutes and it can be mixed with your smoothies and coffee. Owing to its origin form animal source, some may question its palatability. Well, you will be surprised to know that it comes in several delicious flavors. So, all beneficial things need not be distasteful all the time. Also, these powders usually come with a blend of other beneficial ingredients, such as vitamins like vitamin C and minerals like astaxanthin, hyaluronic acid, raspberry, green coffee beans, etc. All these ingredients together can effectively combat all your signs of aging.
Now comes the big question, are these collagen powders really beneficial? Several studies have demonstrated its efficiency in reversing aging. One such double-blind placebo-controlled study involving more than 100 participants aged 45 to 65 years, showed a marked reduction in eye wrinkles in individuals who consumed a particular collagen supplement for eight weeks, as compared to the placebo group. This effect was seen to last for four weeks. Another study involved consuming collagen supplement for 60 days. This study aimed at assessing the skin moisture, skin elasticity, skin roughness and trans-epidermal water loss. The end result of the study showed a positive effect on skin firmness, collagen density and nasolabial fold depth (fold of skin around the nose).
However, the effect of collagen supplements in reversing aging is still a debatable matter. Some researchers argue that the studies proving them to be efficacious, do not take into account the other factors such as hormonal fluctuations, stress and several lifestyle factors, like alcohol, smoking and sunlight exposure. A renowned dermatologist in London, Dr. Nick Lowe strongly believes that oral consumption of collagen can only produce negligible effect in reversing aging and if does produce any significant effect, it will be temporary. He also puts forth an explanation to his statement that orally taken collagen cannot have a targeted action on the concerned areas where one ages, such as neck, hands and decolletage (portion of torso exposed by the neckline including shoulders, back and upper chest). Also, since these supplements are extracted from animals, they may cause serious side-effects when administered in humans. This is the reason for withdrawal of collagen injections from the market. Also, if you are a vegan, collagen supplementation being derived from animals is a big ‘No’ for you.
With this aim of achieving a targeted effect in reversing aging, scientists came up with a new, cheaper and much effective alternative, i.e., Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP). Unlike collagen supplement which is obtained from a foreign source, PRP advocates the use of platelets from your own blood plasma, which is enriched with growth factors and thus bear the potential to stimulate collagen production. This treatment has also been seen beneficial in treating hair loss and with some precautionary measures, this effect can last for a year. Also, this hair regrowth therapy produced more natural appearance as compared to that seen with injections of volume fillers.
Although these modalities cast an outstanding picture in reversal of aging, natural methods can never be outlooked. Dr. Jack insists on the fact that spending on supplements containing essential nutrients is of no use, when you can actually benefit from natural sources. There are several foods which can provide you with a plethora of anti-aging vitamins and minerals. Vitamin C is the most significant of these essential nutrients. It has been known to replenish your reserve of collagen and reverse aging.
Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and maqui berries contain anthocyanidins and polyphenols, which are antioxidants and can thus prevent free radical damage in the skin. Foods such as bitter orange and bilberry can aid in strengthening the digestive system, which has an association with skin health. Dr. Jack also recommends the consumption of natural sources of protein than having it through collagen supplements.
A leading dermatologist, Dr. Daniel Glass states that excess sunlight exposure, air pollution and smoking are the factors you should completely eliminate to look young and healthy. However, looking at how tempting the collagen supplements can be, Dr. Glass gives a practical advice to choose the supplement with no artificial sweetener and most importantly, go for the supplement with a clinically proven efficiency.
To conclude, brunt of nature should be dealt with naturally. Why have artificial supplements with questionable effectiveness when you can have food with well-established efficacy. Have faith in natural means to counteract aging, such as yoga, exercise, healthy balanced diet and a good sunlight protection.