Collagen is one of the latest health buzzwords. While browsing through a drugstore, you will probably notice tubs of powdered collagen and creams that claim to boost your collagen and prevent aging. Find out what role it plays in your health.

Whenever anyone talks about skin aging, the word collagen seems to pop up. This protein does play a role in your skin’s youthfulness, but it serves a larger purpose as well. Collagen is a protein and one of the main building blocks of our skin. It’s found in our bones, tendons, and ligaments.  As a matter of fact, collagen makes up 75% of skin’s support structure. Consider it like a frame to your mattress. Collagen is also akin to a layer of leather, which gives skin strength and resilience, when mixed with elastic fibers.     

Collagen is made up of three amino acids: glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline. The collagen molecule is shaped like a triple spiral that mixes with other collagen molecules in the skin and forms a mesh-like network in the dermis, which is the layer of skin beneath the epidermis and above the layer of subcutaneous fat. 

Unfortunately, collagen starts to degrade with age, and your genetics affect how fast it happens.  As time marches on, we lose collagen and produce it in lower quality. The free radicals that abound are collagen’s worst offender. Environmental factors like UV rays and pollution, poor diet, and bad lifestyle choices like smoking all create free radicals, which speed up the aging process. When collagen begins to decline, you may notice wrinkles, stiffer tendons and ligaments, weaker muscles, joint pain, and even GI problems. Collagen is certainly vital for the health of every system in your body.

After age 30, we lose collagen, and our ability to produce it in high quality can decline. However, topicals that enhance collagen production can help replenish its stores.  Products such as retinoids or retinols stimulate collagen synthesis in skin, while glycolic acids and peptides can trigger collagen formation

A healthy and well-rounded diet that includes enough protein will supply the amino acids your body needs to produce collagen. It also gets help from Vitamin C, zinc, and copper. To maximize collagen production, eat a varied diet filled with whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, lean meats, fish, and nuts. Incorporating good sunscreen habits can also help ensure your body gets and produces what it needs to feel great and lessen the appearance of aging.

Because collagen is such an important component in a healthy body, making good choices goes a long way.

Risselle Naimark is a Professional Freelance Makeup Artist and Skincare Consultant. She carries an extensive line of personalized skincare, cosmetics, and anti-aging products. Risselle is also available for weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, makeup lessons, and all of your beauty needs. She can be reached at 718 263-5517.