Every woman over 25 (and some men) are constantly reading about collagen pertaining to beauty products and anti-aging. But what does it all really mean in your personal everyday quest in finding the fountain of youth?

First, let’s examine what collagen is. Collagen is a protein produced in the human body. It is in the bones, tendons, muscles and skin. It is also found in the cornea of the eyes, blood vessels, gut lining, teeth, and nails. The word collagen is derived from the Greek word “kolla” meaning glue. So basically collagen is the “glue” that holds the entire body together. The body produces collagen naturally and it is in abundance when young, but unfortunately production starts to decline at about age 25, and continues. It decreases even more in women after menopause. Collagen also decreases with other factors such as smoking, sugar and ultraviolet rays. This decrease leads to wrinkles and sagging skin. There is no way to prevent collagen decreases in the body.

Don’t panic you are NOT doomed! While there is no way to completely stop aging, there are ways to do so more gracefully. You can help your body maintain and build collagen, once you have some of the basic information. There is a great deal of misleading and debatable information when it comes to collagen. One fact that most seem to agree on is that collagen skincare products do NOT add collagen to the skin. They are basically “hope in a jar”. Collagen molecules are simply too large to penetrate the skin. They can help moisturize your skin but they will not help build or replace collagen. The active ingredients will just sit on top of your skin. If the active ingredient is collagen it is always from an animal source. Most of the creams and dietary supplements on the market come from either cowhide or chicken bones. Since collagen is a form of protein, It also can not be digested whole. It has to be broken down by the stomach just like every other protein we eat. This basically means you can not eat collagen to build collagen.

It is very important to consume adequate amounts of protein so your body has the amino acids it needs to produce collagen. It’s also very important to consume a diet rich in antioxidants (vitamins E, C and beta-carotene) B vitamins and minerals such as magnesium and zinc also play an important role. Foods like blueberries, dark leafy greens, mango, eggs, are also great collagen boosters. You should also consider switching your current oil to avocado oil. A 2006 study published in the Journal of Rheumatology found that avocado oil “significantly increased type II collagen”.

If you can not always eat a collagen producing diet supplements are another alternative. The best ones would be a plant-based supplement that helps the body in production. Garden of Life recently launched MyKind Organic Plant Based Collagen Builder. Not only is this supplement organic but the ingredients are non-GMO and, suitable for both vegans and vegetarians. It basically contains the vitamins and minerals needed to help build collagen. Take this with a good protein source and your hair, skin, and nails will love you!

There are other ways that collagen production can be stimulated in the skin (specifically the face) by visiting a plastic surgeon or medical spa. Fillers such as Radiesse and Sculptra both make claims to increase collagen production in the skin. There is also Microneedling which is a technique to increase the body’s collagen and elastin. The procedure uses micro needles (hence the name) and is minimally invasive. A trained professional makes thousands of minuscule needle puncture marks on the skin stimulating your body to make more collagen in that area.

Next week, we will ask an expert to give his expertise about collagen production through alternative measures. Dr. Ramtin Kassir is a prestigious New York City board certified plastic surgeon. According to ABC News Dr. Kassir is one of the top plastic surgeons in New York City. He treats patients that are trying to look younger and increase collagen production. There are so many procedures on the market, that it is best to make an informed decision (so ask an expert). Next week in part 2 of this series, we will get expert advice from Dr. Ramtin Kassir. Until then, I wish you lots of love and collagen.

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