Collagen is a large protein that is used to make the connective tissue, which in turn keeps all the other tissues together. Collagen is present in bones, joints, blood, muscles, and cartilages. It is the most important protein for a healthy-looking skin as it gives it elasticity and strength. Collagen makes up a third of the total body protein. As we grow older, our processes start to slow down and this affects the production of collagen too. Our "modern lifestyles "of high sugar foods, pollution, smoking, and excessive sun exposure all have a detrimental effect on collagen production. With a decrease in collagen, the skin starts to sag and wrinkle, joints become stiff and painful and bones become more brittle.
Structure and Function of Collagen for Skin Health:
Collagen is a complex protein which is made up of long fibers. The amino acids that make collagen include Glycine, Proline, Hydroxyproline and Arginine. Collagen forms a fibrous network of cells in the middle layer of the skin -Dermis. New cells grow on this network and as the collagen production declines the skin loses its structure and starts to sag. Collagen is naturally found mostly in animal proteins; however plant foods contain a number of important nutrients that help collagen production in our body.
(Also Read: 15 Foods To Include In Your Diet For A Healthy Skin)
NUTRIENTS OF CONCERN for COLLAGEN PRODUCTION:
AMINO ACIDS: There are 20 amino acids that make up all the proteins in our body. Of these 9 are termed essential as they are not produced in our body and need to be consumed through our food. Amino acids are important to produce collagen and are abundantly found in protein-rich foods like meats, poultry, legumes like peanuts and Tofu, cottage cheese, soy proteins, organ meats, Fish, and dairy.
VITAMIN C: The vitamin regulates the synthesis of Collagen. In addition, Vitamin C is a strong antioxidant and its role in maintaining and promoting skin health is well documented. Consuming foods rich in Vitamin C on a daily basis helps maintain not just a healthy skin but also a strong immune system. Vitamin C is abundant in citrus fruits, papaya, green leafy vegetables, tomato, berries, red and yellow peppers.
ZINC: The mineral needed in small amounts is a critical nutrient for collagen production. It boosts production, repairs cell and protects against damage. It also activates the proteins for collagen formation. Oysters, dairy, pumpkin seeds, cashew nuts are some of the best sources of zinc.
MANGANESE: It helps in collagen production by activating enzymes that boost the production of amino acid - Proline present in collagen. Needed in small amounts, Manganese is found in foods like, whole grains, nuts, legumes, brown rice, leafy vegetables and spices.
COPPER: It works by activating enzymes that are needed for collagen production; these enzymes also help connect collagen fibers with other fibers, creating a wire frame that supports tissues. Whole grains, beans, nuts, shellfish, organ meats, green leafy vegetables and dried prunes are all good sources of copper.
(Also Read: 10 Foods For Glowing Skin)
We have lots of collagen in our body, but the desire to look young forever, or to maintain a healthy glowing skin has given rise to several collagen supplements. Some studies have shown a beneficial effect of collagen for mobility in people with osteoarthritis and for athletes. A study published in the Journal Nutrients in 2018, showed that consumption of collagen Peptide improved the hydration, elasticity and wrinkling in human skin. Collagen supplements as isolates are also available in the market.
Should we then take the easy way out? Scientific research and data over the decades have proven that taking nutrients in their natural form is far more beneficial for the overall health of our body. Supplements are alright for short durations under professional guidance but are never the answer to healthy well-balanced food made with fresh ingredients.
Skin health is also an outcome of
7-9 hours of sound sleep
Want healthy glowing skin? EAT HEALTHY, STAY HAPPY AND MOVE THAT BODY.
About Rupali DattaRupali Datta is a Clinical Nutritionist and has worked in leading corporate hospitals. She has created and lead teams of professionals to deliver clinical solutions for patients across all medical specialties including critical care. She is a member of the Indian Dietetic Association and Indian Association of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition.