Collagen is an abundant protein that provides structure and support to connective tissues in the body including skin, cartilage, and bone. Our cells are naturally able to produce collagen, but this production can decrease with age, and with certain lifestyle behaviors like smoking and excessive sun exposure. This can translate into wrinkles and sagging skin.
Fortunately, there are oral supplements that may stimulate and support collagen production to help maintain plump and youthful skin.
Oral supplementation with collagen has gained popularity and research interest. Clinical studies suggest that collagen supplements have the potential to not only support collagen density and skin elasticity, but also skin hydration.
As little as 2.5g taken daily has been found to decrease eye wrinkle volume and increase skin moisture. There is also research that more specifically highlights the importance of collagen dipeptide content. To determine the most appropriate dose and type of collagen for you, it is best to consult with a holistic health care practitioner.
Vitamin C is an essential component of collagen production. It also has antioxidant properties which may help protect against collagen damage induced by free radicals. Based on its mechanism of action, and under the discretion of your holistic health care practitioner, it may be included in your personalized supplement regimen. However, it is important to note that at this point, there is limited research on oral vitamin C supplementation for collagen production and wrinkle reduction.
Ginseng (Panax ginseng)
Ginseng has been found to decrease the activity of enzymes that break down collagen while increasing the expression of a specific type of collagen (type 1). In one randomized controlled study, healthy women over the age of 40 who took this herb as an oral supplement had decreases in facial wrinkles and signs of increased collagen synthesis.
It is also important to note that additional benefits of this herb include its adaptogenic properties. Adaptogenic herbs can help counteract the effects of stress on the body and are more specifically thought to support the adrenal glands, major players in the stress response.
Gotu kola (Centella asiatica)
Also known as tiger grass, this herb has been shown to play a role in promoting collagen synthesis. In one study, postpartum women with stretch marks were found to have an increase in skin thickness after 6 weeks of supplementing with Gotu kola. With the use of ultrasound imaging, increases in collagen density were also observed.
Aside from anti-aging benefits, the collagen-supporting effects of these supplements can be put towards other cosmetic concerns like acne scarring. For example, under the guidance of an integrative dermatologist, supplementing with collagen di- and tri-peptides before a micro-needling treatment can help optimize results. Taken even further, a personalized supplement regimen of herbs and nutraceuticals can be designed to home in on your specific goals and concerns with the various and unique benefits of each ingredient.