I wish I could say my skin looked like I was 20, for that matter, the rest of me too! Sadly, it doesn’t but I am no longer 20 or even 40 so I guess I need to do what I can to keep it looking as young as possible. If you would also like to have younger-looking skin, read on to find out how collagen supports skin, bone and joint health and what to do to help keep that fresh, smooth and wrinkle-free skin!
Collagen is a protein found in your connective tissues – skin, bones, ligaments and tendons. Its primary function is to support those connective tissues with cushioning and structural support. The body needs collagen to bind it together – literally. Collagen is the matrix or the glue that binds the skin, tendons, connective tissue, muscles, joints and cartilage together. Without it, we would be like a rag doll and our skin would flap, just like a flag waving in the breeze. Scary picture isn’t it?
Ideally, we would keep producing collagen and elastin at the same rate in our 70’s as we do in our teens, but that’s not the case. Collagen only exists in proteins found in animals, not plants, and the most popular form of exogenous (from the outside) Collagen are BioCell Collagen, made from chicken Sternal cartilage. BioCell Collagen is the brand found in many supplements containing collagen. Chicken cartilage reminds me of a friend of mine, Jack, who will teasingly ask me what am I concocting – eye of newt and a chicken leg? Truth be told, I should be using that chicken leg to include in all kinds of nutritious food, since it is a good source of collagen and minerals. If only I had the acreage to raise chickens (and the time). I guess I’ll start buying those chicken legs and feet to include in soups, broths, etc.!
In a fantasy world, young-looking skin and collagen production would be as simple as eating the right foods. It is actually – well at least partially. Hormones still play a role in skin elasticity. Collagen production though is supported by eating the right nutrients.
The essential nutrients to support collagen production include:
- Genistein – Primarily found in soybeans, but also found in smaller quantities in other legumes like fava beans and kudzu. It is an isoflavone that has estrogenic properties and blocks enzymes that break down and age the skin.
- Latin – Eat dark, leafy greens like spinach and kale for Lutein and Vitamin C. Is there anything spinach and kale isn’t good for?
- Lycopene – Red & orange vegetables and fruits like tomatoes, red peppers, carrots, and sweet potatoes are packed with lycopene, a powerful antioxidant supporting collagen synthesis. On the up side, they also contain Vitamin C!
- Hyaluronic Acid – Production supported by bean (legumes) consumption; shoot for two tablespoons per day.
- Essential Fatty Acids – Omega-3,6,9, Flax Seed, Nuts, Olive Oil, Salmon, Avocados, etc. Skin cells are surrounded by a fat layer of fatty acids. They really are essential for healthy looking skin – a tablespoon per day would be suggested.
- Vitamin A -Back to those red & oranges colored fruits and vegetables as good sources of Vitamin A.
- Carnosine – A protein found in turkey that helps to prevent cross-linking. Life Extension cites, “Protein degradation occurs as a result of cross-linking and the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGE). These changes figure prominently in the processes of aging and its typical signs such as skin wrinkling and brain degeneration.”
- Sulfur – Best food sources include garlic, onions, cabbage, eggs, meat, fish, seafood and nuts. The minimum requirement is 850mg/ for normal daily requirements.
- Vitamin C – In the case of collagen, Vitamin C combines with two amino acids – lysine and proline – to form pro-collagen. Pro-collagen is then used to manufacture one of several types of collagen found in different tissues throughout the body. Best sources of Vitamin include citrus fruits, peppers, strawberries, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, mangos and kiwi. Most fruits and vegetables have some Vitamin C so if you get in your 6-10 servings per day, you should be good.