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Collagen - can it really help those lines?

                                       February 2011

Collagen – can it really help those lines?

CollagenI don’t know when the word collagen crept into my consciousness; it wasn’t something our parents’ generation considered or probably knew anything about. In recent years however collagen has been recognised as a key ingredient in many beauty products and today collagen fillers and injections are recognised treatments.

There is nothing mysterious about collagen; it is a type of fibrous protein that occurs naturally in bone, cartilage, skin and tendons. There are actually 29 different types of collagen that occur in our bodies and, in a simple way, they act as a glue to help keep the body intact. Collagen possesses great strength but is also very ductile and works together with other proteins in the body for a number of benefits. For instance, collagen can work together with the protein elastin to give form and provide strength to tissues in the body; or with a strong protein called keratin to provide resilience, strength and flexibility to our skin.

Over time, the collagens in our skin tissue can begin to break down and this can cause our skin to lose its suppleness and begin to wrinkle. This is when lines, crow’s feet and all the other signs of ageing begin to appear.

The beauty industry has quickly moved forward on this, and today you can buy the widest range of different skin creams and care products containing collagen to help fight those lines and wrinkles. The benefits however are still under consideration. Some people say their skin has visibly improved after using collagen based preparations. There is another school of thought, though, that says that the collagen and elastin molecules contained in normal skin preparations are too large to actually penetrate the skin, and therefore they just stay on the surface until they are washed off.

Collagen fillers and injections are also very popular today and are used to treat lines and wrinkles, and also to help create fuller lips and cheeks. There are two main types of collagen fillers used in cosmetic procedures – human based and bovine (derived from cows). The actual procedure is quick and fairly simple, usually taking well under an hour.

There is still however much discussion on how beneficial this is and also about the length of any benefits. Obviously the best step would be to help one’s bodies replace the lost collagen naturally, and again the beauty industry has quickly taken this on board.

There are some natural skincare products now on the market that contain ingredients that are said to stimulate the skin to naturally produce collagen and elastin. There are also various drinks and food supplements becoming available that claim to replenish the collagen in your skin – the Japanese product Toki has been designed specifically for this purpose. However, some scientists say that digesting the protein breaks it down into amino acids, and so the specific skin benefits of the collagen are lost.

Research is going on and interest in collagen continues to increase.

Apart from all the beauty products, it makes sense to ensure our diets are optimised to help collagen production. Green leafy vegetables, highly coloured fruits and vegetables such as red peppers, tomatoes and beetroot; avocados and fish with its high levels of omega 3 are all useful.


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