Collagen is a protein found abundantly in the body. Collagen supplementation has been associated with numerous health benefits.
Most people associate collagen supplements with skin health, but they can actually relieve joint pain, prevent bone loss, and boost muscle mass. Some health professionals believe that collagen can repair intestinal permeability (sometimes referred to as leaky gut), but there is little scientific evidence to support this.
Collagen has been shown to reduce and prevent aging skin. It can also promote firm, hydrated, and smooth skin.
When should you start taking collagen?
If you want to keep your skin looking fresh and healthy as you age, it’s a good idea to start taking collagen in your 20s. The usual recommendation is age 25.
The body naturally produces collagen in significant amounts from birth to age 20. From around age 20-25, the body maintains optimal collagen levels. Collagen production starts to decline as early as 25 years old. Experts estimate that collagen production continues to decrease by 1% each year. At around the age of 50, this decrease accelerates, and by age 70, endogenous collagen production is terribly low. This can have a significant effect on your skin, hair, nails, and joints. This contributes to the physical signs of aging including brittle nails, thinning hair, and dry skin.
It’s better to start supplementing collagen earlier so you can keep collagen at optimal levels before they drop too low.
Signs you should start supplementing with collagen
Many people believe that the visible signs of aging begin in your thirties and forties. However, you may experience them as early as your twenties, especially if other environmental and lifestyle factors are present. Drinking, smoking, poor sleep quality, poor diet, and unprotected sun exposure have a damaging effect on collagen production and overall skin health.
The first signs of low collagen production are most noticeable around the eyes and mouth. The delicate skin around your eyes is especially sensitive to decreased collagen production, so you may notice fine lines and wrinkles start to form. You may also start to notice lines around the mouth. Skin may also become less soft and supple and skin tone may become uneven.
Foods that help your body produce collagen
Some foods contain a bioavailable form of collagen that your body can use immediately. Consuming collagen-rich foods or foods that help your body produce collagen can also assist in creating the amino acids your body needs to support healthy skin.
Collagen-rich and collagen-boosting foods include:
- Bone broth
- Fish and shellfish
- Egg whites
- Citrus fruits
- Tropical fruits
- Leafy greens
- Bell peppers
Collagen supplements have been linked to several health benefits and few health risks. Collagen supplementation may increase muscle mass, prevent bone loss, relieve joint pain, and improve skin health. The body’s collagen production starts to decrease around the age of 25 and continually decreases with age. It’s a good idea to start supplementing with collagen in your early 20s to maintain your collagen at optimal levels before production declines.