In the last couple of years, as skincare has taken precedence as the most common form of self-care practices, we’ve come to know of many products and ingredients that can make our skin better. Collagen is one such product that has been on the rise in the skincare market. How many of you have come across those social media ads talking about how amazing and useful collagen is? Or tempting you to try it out? But what exactly are they? Is it just a fad or something here to stay? Let’s find out.
First things first, collagen a type of protein that is abundant in your body. According to Dr Sonali Kohli, consultant dermatologist at Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital, Mumbai, “Collagen is a molecule that is a building block that maintains the tensile strength of your skin, and is naturally produced by the body.” She further adds, “There are sixteen types of collagen found in the body. Out of these, four types are in abundance. Type 1 is for the skin and connective tissues, type 3 is for smooth muscles of organs, while types 2 and 4 are for healthy bones. Further, among these, type 1 is the most prominent.”
One can also look for external sources of collagen to consume, as the body stops producing enough by the time you are in your 40s, due to factors such as exposure to UV rays, smoking, consuming sugar or refined carbs that interferes in the collagen’s ability to repair itself. Dr Kohli shares, “The most common food sources of collagen come from fish, chicken (bone broth), and egg whites. For those on a vegan or vegetarian diet, you would find your collagen source in food items such as avocados, pumpkin seeds, citrus fruits, berries, yellow and red vegetables, and green leafy vegetables.”
Ideally, the recommended daily dosage of collage is between 2.5g to 15 g, depending on which form you take them in.
Collagen supplements contain a broken-down version of this protein, so it is easier to absorb by the body. There are three types of supplements: hydrolised collagen (found in the pills and powders), undenatured collagen (derived from chicken cartilage), and gelatine (cooked version of collagen).
According to Dr Kohli, collagen is extremely useful for your skin and has the following benefits:
• It helps minimise the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, which occur due to ageing skin, or the damage caused by exposure to sun and pollution.
• It leaves your skin feeling hydrated by moisturising it, and makes it look smooth and fresh.
• Collagen supplements help in building tissue, thus speeding up the healing process of skin repairs against any type of scars.
In fact, a 2014 study of 69 women aged between 35 to 55 found that those who took 2.5 to 5g of collagen in its various forms for eight weeks shows a great improvement in their skin elasticity, as compared to those who didn’t rely on collagen.
Another study concluded that women who took a gram of chicken-derived collagen supplement per day for 12 weeks, had 76 per cent less dryness, 12 per cent fewer visible wrinkles, and better blood flow in the skin, followed by a six per cent higher collagen content.
While there are no specific drawbacks, Dr Kohli points out that since it is a heavy molecule, it can be difficult for the body to absorb it. Another thing to be mindful about, she points out, is that since most collagen supplements are made from fish, shellfish, and eggs, those who are allergic to these should be careful of strong physical reactions to collagen supplements, and choose supplements that are more suited to their dietary needs.
Sharmishtha Sharma (name changed), a 38-year old advertising professional, tried her hands on collagen supplements after coming across numerous ads for the same on social media. According to her, after almost three months of continuous consumption, she could visibly feel the difference in her skin, as her fine lines started fading away. Her hair too, gained volume and shine. In addition, she also changed her lifestyle and picked up healthy dietary habits and exercise, which also played a part in improving her appearance and overall wellbeing.
“The body’s ability to naturally produce collagen diminishes as one ages. I often get asked by persons in their late 30s and early 40s if they should try out collagen supplements. It is something I usually recommend after examining their skin texture and whether they are getting collagen via their diet. If I’ve noticed that they have developed fine lines or wrinkles, and if their skin is dehydrated, I prescribe collagen supplements,” explains Dr Kohli.
The main job of collagen is to improve the elasticity of the skin and leave it looking smooth, with a refined texture. While your body is one of the biggest natural source of this protein, Dr Kohli further adds that there is definitely no harm in trying out collagen supplements to take care of your skin. However, it is always advisable to consult with a health expert before you consume collagen supplements.