Collagen is one of the primary building block proteins in the body, in everything from skin and joints to bones and muscle. It functions as the primary protein to support connective tissue throughout the body, which means that arguably more than anything else, it serves to hold everything together.
As we age, our bodies gradually lose the ability to produce collagen at the rates they did in our younger years, resulting in a variety of problems, the most visible of which are related to our skin. Without enough collagen, skin loses the elasticity it once did, becoming thinner, weaker, and more likely to sag and form fine lines. Without the skin elasticity of our youth, skin more easily sags into these lines instead of straightening back up, resulting in wrinkles that last.
It’s most common, and most lucrative to the cosmetic industry, to take the approach of applying a variety of lotions and creams to deal with this problem on an outer level. Of course, moisturizing your skin and enriching it with vitamins externally is important, but if your body doesn’t have enough collagen, the process can be akin to treading water—your skin won’t be drowning, but it won’t necessarily be going anywhere either, at least not at the pace you might like.
Another costly approach is the use of injectable collagen. While it does work to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, the affect is only local to the areas of injection, and ultimately you’ll still be dealing with the same issue—with normal aging, your body won’t have the collagen it needs to nourish all the areas of your body that need it, so your skin won’t receive the internally-driven collagen-nourishment to regenerate and renew your skin on a regular basis.
The internal distribution of collagen is driven by two sources—your own body’s ability to produce it and diet. Collagen is only available from animals, so if you’re a vegetarian, this can pose a problem, though it can be outweighed by the better nutrition and lack of toxins a plant-based diet can often provide if done right.
Given that, it can be prudent to consider taking dietary collagen. The three major types of collagen you’ll want to take for your skin are types I, II, and III—these are not only the most abundant forms of collagen in our bodies, but the three most directly related to the health of the skin. Collagen type I tends to concentrate in the skin, bones, and intervertebral discs, collagen type II feeds primarily into cartilage and skin, and is more often used for issues like cellulite, and collagen type III is most present in the skin, intestinal walls, and muscles.
You’ll often find oral collagen supplements without any mention of the types they contain, or just separated by type, so you might find a product with only collagens type I and III, or only collagen type II. Ideally, you’ll find a product with all three, but if you’re unable to, you can easily mix and match to ensure you’re getting all three types. Oral collagen is usually best absorbed when taken with vitamin C, and I would suggest taking more than the typical suggested serving size—that amount is usually a bare minimum to see visible results. I usually find people get better results when taking 2-3 times the typical suggested serving, or more, in as little as a week, but more often two to three weeks. Dietary collagen should come from animals, so there’s no need for concern about overdosing—it’s not a pharmaceutical drug after all. With regular use, for the majority of people not only do hair and nails begin to show more life and shine, but skin smoothens, wrinkles and fine lines fade (with some disappearing entirely), and skin complexion regains more of its youthful glow and buoyancy.