We all know the drill. To keep skin looking young and healthy, you need to stay hydrated and protect your skin from the sun. But what if you could eat your way to younger looking skin?
An old trend in Asia is getting a new spin in the beauty world in the form of ingestible collagen. Collagen, the protein found in your skin cells that makes them firm and smooth, naturally begins to decline as we age. In our 20s, we lose about one percent of the collagen in our skin every year. By 40, collagen levels really start to nosedive, resulting in skin that is dull, dry, saggy and prone to wrinkles. Diet and sun exposure play a huge role in the skin aging process, affecting the rate of collagen deterioration.
Throughout Asia, women have been consuming collagen for years in an effort to slow the aging process. Now that trend is making its way to the Western world. Companies that manufacture foods and drinks containing collagen do infer ingestible collagen will improve collagen levels in the skin, reducing the visible signs of aging. However, federal regulations prevent them from making any medical claims.
Collagen-fortified foods can be ingested as sweets, noodles, pills or even in your evening cocktail. When collagen is ingested into the body, it's broken down into amino acids just like any other protein. But are ingestible collagen products any better for your skin than any other good source of protein like, say, a burger? Or a tuna sandwich?
I reached out to plastic and cosmetic surgeon Dr. John Martin for some answers. Martin confirmed ingestible collagen does increase skin hydration and improves the collagen density in the skin. But he warned the results would likely be minimal. "Unfortunately there will continue to be collagen breakdown as we age and collagen supplements cannot prevent this, but taking them in conjunction with good skincare habits and other skincare procedures will help produce the best results," added Martin.
If you're taking calcium supplements, Martin cautions against taking ingestible collagen supplements because "the combination may cause hypercalcemia or excessive calcium levels in the body which causes constipation, bone pain, fatigue, abnormal cardiac rhythm, among other symptoms."
So while eating collagen-rich foods may help to improve the overall look of your skin, you'll need to consume them consistently to achieve even the smallest of results. If you are thinking about adding ingestible collagen to your beauty regimen, be sure to check in with your doctor first.