What Effect Does Collagen and its Supplements Have on Nails, Skin, Joints, and Hair?
As the cosmetic industry gains a considerable following with millennials, science seems to be at the forefront of all the breakthroughs being made. One particular subject of interest is collagen supplements. Over the years, there has been plenty of research and focus directed towards determining whether or not collagen supplements are beneficial to the body, particularly the skin, bones, hair, and cartilage.
In fact, quite a number of studies have been carried out to determine the benefits of collagen. However, evidence gathered seems to be obscure. Indeed, marketing gimmicks seem to suggest that collagen has innumerable benefits. To get to the bottom of this, let’s analyze collagen deeper.
What is collagen?
Collagen is the main protein structure found in animals and humans as well. This protein structure is important in that it assists in the growth and repair of tissues present in the ligaments, skin, bones, ligaments, and tendons.
Lately, the substance has become a fan favorite in the world of supplements, with a number of products suggesting that collagen has the ability to replenish a myriad of tissues.
In fact, these labels make all sorts of promises such as that once you ingest animal collagen from these supplements, you will immediately enjoy benefits such as healthier nails, skin, and hair. Additionally, not only will it improve your digestion, but also soothe any creaky joints that you might have.
So where is this collagen taken from? Most of these labels extract their collagen from animal tissues that would have later been thrown away. One good example is the skin and bones of pigs and cattle from a meat processor.
The company first denatures the proteins present in the tissues to obtain gelatin. The gelatin is then further broken down and processed into smaller portions so as to be added in other products such as protein bars, powders, and capsules.
However, one thing that you’ve got to note is that supplements that have the label plant-based collagen do not have collagen! Yep, that’s right. In fact, they only go as far as promoting collagen production by concocting a mixture of minerals, vitamins, and amino acids.
The Complexities of Collagen
So does collagen have any benefit? This depends entirely on how collagen is absorbed and digested within the gastrointestinal tract. Additionally, the collagen will have to target the given tissues in order for its therapeutic powers to kick in.
That being said, research has analyzed this process deeper, and even hints at the possibility of some benefits, though yet to be conclusive
Let’s have a look at the skin for example. As you know, collagen is one of the monumental proteins found in one’s dermis. As a matter of fact, it plays a vital role in ensuring that the dermis is firm an elastic.
Importance of Natural Collagen
From the age of 20 years, one begins to lose collagen on their skin as a result of environmental issues such as excessive exposure to sunlight, pollution, as well as excessive cigarette smoking. All these activities will no doubt adversely affect the skin, leading to dryness, wrinkling, and sagging.
However, Dr. Diane S. Berson from the Will Cornell Medical College is not confident that ingesting collagen will directly mitigate these effects.
That being said, a couple of studies have demonstrated that ingesting collagen supplements for a couple of months can greatly improve the collagen density, the moisture, and the elasticity of the skin. However, Dr. Berson claims that such improvements were particularly minimal, and quite a number of these studies were sponsored by the corporations creating the collagen products.
On the other hand, Dr. Berson encourages individuals to use sun protection while out, to stick to a healthy diet, keep hydrated, and have enough sleep to ensure that they maintain high collagen levels for a better look.
The End Result
Conclusively, it seems that very little evidence has been found to determine any beneficial effects of collagen supplements on skin and hair. However, one study did discover that increase collagen intake did reduce nail breakages. However, the study did not have a control group to compare the results. Indeed, the belief in collagen’s innumerable benefits is dependent on one’s perception for now.
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