The most abundant protein in the human body, collagen makes up about 25-35% of the body’s total protein content and is responsible for keeping us together – literally!
When we think of collagen, most of us are familiar with its role for beauty – in providing us with healthy, beautiful-looking skin. But it doesn’t stop there: collagen fibres are major building blocks in bone, joints (tendons and ligaments), and blood vessels (arteries and veins). In addition, the quantity and quality of collagen in the skin help determine the health and beauty of hair and nails.
Aging, chronic inflammation, the environment, our lifestyle, hormone imbalance, and stress can all play a role in the degradation of collagen over time. When the activity of the fibroblasts (the cells responsible of producing collagen) slow down, we will often be at a higher risk for osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease as well as see more wrinkles when we look in the mirror.
Boosting Your Collagen
To fight this decline in collagen production, it is important to stimulate the activity of our collagen producing cells. One of the best ways is to supplement with a unique nutrient complex called choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid (ch-OSA). Ch-OSA has been scientifically proven to help the body generate its own collagen supplies by activating specific enzyme pathways your body naturally uses to make new collagen.
In one study, women with aging skin who took 10 mg of ch-OSA daily saw a 30% improvement in fine lines, 89% increase in skin elasticity, and a reduction in brittle nails and hair.
Ch-OSA has also shown benefits in promoting bone health. Bone strength depends not only on the quantity of bone tissue, but also on the quality. This is determined by the shape and architecture of bone, the turnover rate between bone formation and bone breakdown, mineral content, and of course collagen! Collagen serves as a framework to hold calcium into bone, which provides more bone toughness and flexibility to help withstand fractures. Ch-OSA showed impressive clinical results in a double-blind study in postmenopausal women with low bone density. Ch-OSA was able to increase collagen content of bone by 15% and increased bone mineral density at the hip by 2% in the first year.
Prevent Collagen Degradation
As mentioned above, there are many factors that lead to the degradation of collagen. Incorporating the following tips will help keep your joints pain-free, bones strong and flexible and keep your skin looking healthy and youthful:
- Antioxidants work to protect your healthy cells, including your skin, hair and nail cells, against the damage from oxidative stress and free radicals. Some of these antioxidants include vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, vitamin A (beta-carotene) and phytochemicals such as polyphenols.
- It is already well known that excess sugar in the diet can lead to a variety of health concerns and inflammation. Too much sugar can lead to AGEs, or advanced glycation end products. These molecules can trigger an immune reaction and cause an inflammatory reaction in the skin destroying collagen resulting in wrinkling, loss of elasticity, stiffness and accelerated aging.
- Include foods in the diet such as: dark berries, bioflavonoids from citrus, catechins from green tea, carotenoids such as lycopene, lutein and astaxanthin and resveratrol from red wine (in moderation!) These foods optimize antioxidant protection in the skin.
- Manage your stress levels! High levels of cortisol (one of our main stress hormones) can have a detrimental and opposite effect on the body – creating more inflammation. Stress studies conducted on laboratory rats have revealed that collagen loss in the skin is ten times greater than in any other tissue during chronic stress.
- Collagen destruction is also influenced by many environmental factors including diet (processed foods, refined sugars, excess alcohol/caffeine), ultraviolet radiation (especially for the skin), tobacco use and environmental pollutants (pesticides, BPA, phthalates).
- Omega 3 fatty acids help decrease inflammation, support a healthy cardiovascular and nervous system, as well as beautiful looking skin!
- Reduce your inflammation – this means reduce excess red meat, hydrogenated fats/oils, dairy, gluten, refined sugars and excess alcohol and caffeine.
- Include both vitamin C and lysine in the diet or through supplementation, these are 2 of the key building blocks for collagen production.
Dr. Marita Schauch BSc ND is a graduate of the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, Canada’s premier institute for education and research in naturopathic medicine. Dr. Schauch’s health articles educate the public about health and wellness and have been featured in numerous print media. She currently resides and has her clinical practice in Victoria B.C. www.drmarita.com