We all know it’s important to take care of our skin as we age – to remove makeup every night; to always (ALWAYS) apply broad spectrum sunscreen with a rating of at least SPF30 regardless of the season or time of year; and to use other topical skin-beneficial ingredients like antioxidant serums, retinoid creams, and the like. But when it comes to skin health, what we put into our bodies is just as important as the lotions and potions we apply to the skin. For healthy youthful skin, experts recommend drinking lots of pure water, staying away from too much sugar, avoiding cigarette smoke, eating foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, and reducing/eliminating alcohol consumption.
But what if I told you there’s a nutritional drink scientifically proven to significantly decrease wrinkles (especially your deepest wrinkles); to improve your skin’s elasticity; and to increase your skin’s overall hydration levels? Would you be interested? Turns out such a miraculous concoction does exist.
The foundation for this anti-aging cocktail is collagen. In humans collagen is a key component of the skin, hair and nails and makes up nearly 30% of our bodies’ protein composition (Borumand & Sevilla). Sadly, collagen production decreases as we age, causing a number of common aging complaints – wrinkles, sagging skin and loss of skin tone and elasticity. Recent technical advances have produced a supplemental form of collagen that, when consumed in conjunction with certain other key nutrients, effectively combats age-related collagen loss and associated skin concerns.
What Is Collagen?
Supplemental collagen is closely related to gelatin, but it’s chemically different from the gelatin (this ain’t your grandmother’s JELL-O) you’ve eaten in the past. The differences between gelatin and collagen can get pretty technical, so I’d encourage you to check out this article from Dr. O’Shea at The Doctor Within, as well as this excellent summary from Paleo Leap for more detail. The basic idea is that the protein components (amino acids) and peptides in gelatin must undergo additional processing to break down those components into forms more readily absorbed by humans’ digestive tracts, i.e. to break down the proteins into forms our bodies can actually digest and use to strengthen skin, hair and nails. The specific additional processing is known as hydrolysis and results in “hydrolyzed collagen,” also known as “collagen hydrolysate.”
But Haven’t Gelatin Supplements Been around Forever?
You may have seen gelatin tabs or powder gelatin supplements in stores. They’ve been around for a while. But researchers say those old-school gelatin capsules and supplements are all but worthless. That’s because the body isn’t able to break down those gelatin proteins to create the necessary building blocks for stronger hair and nail structures. N.B. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors often consumed the skin, bones and connective tissues of wild or free-range meats and fish. These sources do provide collagen more readily digested and assimilated by the human body. However, most modern diets do not include sufficient amounts of these food sources of usable collagen. Therefore supplementation is recommended. So #paleo diet folks and #whole30 fans alike can rest assured that hydrolyzed collagen supplementation is completely compliant with their chosen food regimens.
According to Borumand & Sibilla (2015), previous “oral (collagen/gelatin) treatments for skin aging have been unsuccessful due to their constituents being broken down by acid and enzymes in the gut; however several studies have shown that hydrolyzed collagen is absorbed in the gut and then delivered to skin and joints through the blood stream (see reference 1 below).” Researchers have also found that consuming hydrolyzed collagen along with oral hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C produces the best results and efficacy. Several recent studies have reported impressive wrinkle-reduction and skin hydrating results using a cocktail of supplemental hydrolyzed collagen, hyaluronic acid (HA) and Vitamin C. Borumand & Sibilla found that this combination resulted in 25-50% skin hydration levels among study participants. They also noted significant decrease in wrinkle depth among those receiving the hydrolyzed collagen+hyaluronic acid+Vitamin C cocktail. An earlier study by Ohara et al. (2009) using a combination collagen+HA+Vitamin C supplement produced similar results in terms of improved skin hydration and increased elasticity. But in this study, participants over age 30 displayed the most significant wrinkle-reduction results (see reference 2 below).
So the evidence definitely supports this combo of supplements for improving skin-related aging complaints. Perhaps you’re eager to try out these supplements for yourself. You’ll first need to decide which hydrolyzed collagen, HA and Vitamin C option or options are best for you. I have listed some options for each below. Where possible, I’ve included comments based on my own experimentation with these products. I should note that no evidence has been found indicating any negative side effects from collagen supplementation. I personally have a pretty delicate system. There’s lots of things I cannot take, but I’ve never had any problems or side effects from the collagen, HA and superfood C products I’ve tried. Nevertheless, we are all different. You may respond more favorably to one brand of hydrolyzed collagen (or HA or C) over others. It may take some experimentation to discover the best combo for you. Here are some options to consider.
Hydrolyzed Collagen Supplements
• Reserveage Organics Collagen Replenish (for $15.79 for just 2.75 oz.) provides 2,500 mg. of hydrolyzed collagen + 20 mg. of hyaluronic acid and 60 mg. of Vitamin C (ascorbic acid). This one is pretty pricey compared to other hydrolyzed collagen options below but earns points for convenience by combining all 3 necessary supplements into one powder form.
• California Gold Nutrition CollagenUp ($12.95) contains 60 mg. each of hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C along with 5,000 mg. of hydrolyzed collagen (from fish). This product is odorless and tasteless in every beverage I’ve tried. It does require a bit more stirring to dissolve (compared to the NeoCell Super Collagen below).
• NeoCell’s Super Powder Collagen ($10.84 for 7 oz.) provides a whopping 6,600 mg. of hydrolyzed collagen. But it doesn’t include added Vitamin C or hyaluronic acid, so you’ll need to find those from other sources. N.B. NeoCell produces and recommends their own hyaluronic acid, but I suspect any well-made HA will work in conjunction with the NeoCell Super Powder Collagen.
• Last but definitely not least, Great Lakes Gelatin Co., Collagen Hydrolysate, Collagen Joint Care, is available from Amazon and iHerb along with other online sources. Price varies from $21-25 (generally around $23) / 16 oz. This amazing collagen product is odorless and tasteless (some reviewers report it has a slightly “meaty” flavor), dissolves quickly in hot, warm or cold liquids and offers pure hydrolyzed beef collagen – 6,000 mg. (6 grams) per Tablespoon. It’s worth noting that one (male) iHerb reviewer actually described this collagen as “better than Botox.” See that review here. Now that’s my kinda supplement!!!
Hyaluronic Acid Supplements
• Vitamin Shoppe brand makes a terrific hyaluronic acid product, Injuv Hyaluronic Acid 140 mg. I’ve used and enjoyed this product without any negative side effects. It has a very high level of hyaluronic acid per (2 gel-tab) dose, providing 140mg. relative to most other HA supplements, most of which provide no more than 100mg. of HA per dose. And because it’s Vitamin Shoppe brand, you’re sometimes able to get discounted prices for this product, especially if you’re a loyal Shoppe buyer.
• Neocell’s Hyaluronic Acid, Nature’s Moisturizer product provides 100mg. of HA per 2 capsule dose ($19 for 60 capsules). This one is reasonably priced and is another great HA option.
Superfood Vitamin C Sources
Back in the day, the options available for Vitamin C supplementation were all lab-generated (often synthetically created) pills and sugary Vitamin C chewables. One problem with these options was the “GI distress” many people suffered when taking more than 1,000 mg. (1 gram) of Vitamin C per day. Next came Vitamin C Ester, highly touted by such skin/beauty gurus as Dr. Nicholas Perricone (of PBS and Perricone Prescription fame) who has been a big proponent of Vitamin C Ester, a different version lab-created C option. Some people claim Vitamin C Ester results in less digestive upset than traditional Vitamin C. However, several exerts (references here and here) state that Vitamin C Ester is chemically so different from the form readily recognized by the human body that it is less effective (than say Ascorbic Acid).
In the past few years another, more natural Vitamin C options have become widely available – C supplementation through consumption of concentrated essences of so-called “superfoods,” such as pomegranate, Camu Camu, acerola and others. These sources of Vitamin C are reportedly the most readily used by the human body and are the least likely to cause digestive side effectives (reference here). Hooray! Finally an answer to the C debate. There are some excellent “superfood” supplement options available to help you meet your Vitamin C needs. Here are a few to consider.
• Navitas Naturals, Organic, Pomegranate Powder (pictured above) – Tart and sweet this bright orange powder dissolves quickly in liquids and imparts a nice pomegranate flavor. Just 1 Tbsp. of this powder provides 130% of your (adult) RDA for Vitamin C. And it’s certified organic, raw, kosher, gluten-free and non-GMO. Navitas claims this product provides a, “potent source of naturally occurring phytonutrients and superior antioxidants like polyphenols, ellagic acid, tannins and anthocyanins. When consumed, these compounds are strong free-radical fighters, providing added protection against cellular damage.” I like this supplement a lot. This is what I used in the Get Glowing Green Tea recipe which will be posted separately along with a few other collagen+HA+C beverage recipes.
• Sunfood, Raw Organic Camu Camu Powder – This powdered concentrated raw powdered essence of the Amazonian super fruit, Camu Camu provides more than 250% of an adult’s RDA for Vitamin C in just 1 tiny teaspoon. Sunfood claims this product is manufactured in a special way that “preserves the abundance of Vitamin C in the Camu fruit.”
• Navitas Naturals also makes an organic, raw Camu Camu powder supplement that boasts an almost too-good-to-be-true 1180% RDA for Vitamin C in just 1 teaspoon! The reviews for this product and the Sunfood version state pretty consistently that both companies’ Camu powdered supplements taste pretty bitter; though the Sunfood version seems to be less bitter (it also provides less Vitamin C).
• You may prefer to take your super fruit supplement in capsule form. If so, this product, Pure Radiance C Veggie Caps from The Synergy Company ($22.34 for 90 caps) is a great option. Based on The Synergy Company’s “proprietary blend of all whole food extracts,” including Camu Camu berry extract, manioc root, acerola berry extract, among others, just 1 of these capsules provides 200% of the RDA for Vitamin C as well as several naturally occurring co-factors and other antioxidants.
As stated above, I will soon be posting several beautifying and anti-aging “cocktail” recipes using this combination of nutrients. So be on the lookout for that! In the meantime, do some shopping. Find the right hydrolyzed collagen, hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C supplements for you! I encourage you to check out the referenced articles below if you’d like to some more research on this anti-aging combo for yourself. And if you’re interested in reading about my preferred form of topical hyaluronic acid, be sure to check out this post.
Beauty Resource for the Day:
Time to identify and correct some possible beauty mistakes you may be (unknowingly) making.
Check out this list of 20 frequently-violated beauty rules from Listotic.
P.S. I’m totally guilty of #3! Guess it’s time to change my sleeping habits too…☹
Wisdom for the Day:
“If you faithfully obey the commands that I’m giving you today, love the Lord your God, and serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, 14 I will send rain on your land at the right time, both in the fall and in the spring. Then you will gather your own grain, new wine, and olive oil. 15 I will provide grass in the fields for your animals, and you will be able to eat all you want.” ~Deuteronomy 11:13-15 (God’s Word Translation)
Read more here.
Referenced Article and Links for Further Reading:
If you’re interested in checking out the scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of hydrolyzed collagen ingestion for wrinkle reduction and increased skin hydration, below are some citations for studies (referenced above) Hydrolyzed Collagen Consumption for Skin:
1. Effects of a nutritional supplement containing collagen peptides on skin elasticity, hydration and wrinkles (2015). Borumand & Sibilla S. Journal of Medical Nutrition and Nutraceuticals; 4(1), 47-53. Online full text article link.
2. Ohara H, Ito K, Iida H, Matsumoto H. Improvement in the moisture content of the stratum corneum following 4 weeks of collagen hydrolysate ingestion. Nippon Shokuhin Kogaku Kaishi 2009; 56: 137-45. Online link to abstract here.
3. Matsumoto H, Ohara H, Ito K, Nakamura Y, Takahashi S. Clinical effect of fish type I collagen hydrolysate on
skin properties. ITE Lett Batteries New Technol Med 2006; 7:386-390. Full text unavailable. See other cited article links (above and below) for summary of this study.
4. Sibilla S, Godfrey M, Brewer S, Budh-Raja A, Genovese L. An Overview of the Beneficial Effects of Hydrolysed Collagen as a Nutraceutical on Skin Properties: Scientific Background and Clinical Studies. The Open Nutraceuticals Journal 2015; 8: 29-42. Online full text article available here.
5. Dr. Tim O’Shea of The Doctor Within on Hydrolyzed Collagen Supplementation. Link here.
6. All About Gelatin & Collagen from Paleo Leap.
7. And you’ll want to check out this list of Studies on Collagen Supplementation from Collagen Complete.