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Collagen: Beauty From The Inside Out

After the age of 30, fine lines, wrinkles and loss of elasticity are common symptoms associated with skin aging. Build-up of environmental exposure and a natural decrease in cell renewal contribute to other signs associated with aging such as dry skin and a loss of natural shine (1).


Collagen is a protein formed by a triple helix structure of amino acids,
which makes up the support fibres of the body.

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, representing 25% of its total proteins. It is also the largest constituent of connective tissue, i.e., skin, cartilage, tendons and bones. Collagen is synthesised by fibroblasts (skin cells), chondrocytes (cartilage cells) and osteoblasts (bone cells). There are 23 types of collagen; types 1 and 3 are those present in the skin (2,3).

Concerning its shape, collagen is an extremely elastic protein. As such, it can fulfil its function of maintaining the strength and elasticity of the skin, bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments, thereby preventing fractures, sprains and breaks related to these structures. The constant repair of collagen structures favours the maintenance of the skin’s shine and softness, preventing the formation of furrows that lead to wrinkles (2,4).

It is easy to observe a deficiency in collagen and connective tissue. The changes that occur due to advancing age are directly related to changes in the quality and quantity of this protein. When the connective tissue that serves as a structural basis becomes stiff and less elastic, atrophy, wrinkles and weariness begin to appear on the surface of the skin (1).


What are some of the so-called "enemies" of beauty?

Excessive sun, cigarettes and toxins can all affect the elasticity of skin. Another factor that has also been directly linked to skin aging is glucose. Glucose is fundamental to a cell’s life, as it serves as its fuel. However, by observing the speed at which diabetic individuals age, it became evident that chronic exposure to this simple carbohydrate in the body stimulates a process called glycation (5).

Glycation is a chemical process that occurs within the body, a reaction between a protein (collagen) and a carbohydrate (glucose) when they meet. This reaction causes the collagen to be destroyed and in the process lose its sustainability function (6-8). Evidence also shows that glycation reactions are accelerated by oxidative stress in skin cells (9), which acts as the main factor in the events that trigger skin aging in the cell (4).

Average Value Comparison Of Amino Acids From Three Protein Sources (3)


Collagen Peptides

Whey Protein Concentrate

Soy Been
Isolate Protein














"The oxygen we breathe naturally generates oxidising compounds within our cells. [This] is a necessary process for the generation of energy and for the cells to remain alive. To combat these compounds, the body has developed an antioxidant system, which [can be described as] a "dirty and wash" cycle. It is enzymes, proteins, vitamins, and minerals that recover the cell and maintain our vitality. Over time, the body is no longer the same and cannot easily recover, needing external help to repair its tissues" (10).

The infamous "free radicals" are able to break up (collagen) proteins, change the skin’s renewal cycle, damage DNA and promote the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines – the primary triggers in the production of inflammatory changes of the skin (4,11-14).

The main reason behind the benefits of collagen supplementation is the presence of amino acids that are not commonly found in food or in conventional protein supplements, such as whey protein. These are: glycine, proline and hydroxyproline – the primary constituents of collagen. A common characteristic of all collagen is its peptide sequence, which can be expressed as (Gly-X-Y), where Gly is glycine and X-Y are often represented by proline (Pro) and hydroxyproline (Hyp), respectively. This sequence is necessary for collagen to establish fibrils, which are in turn organised to form fibres, providing structural integrity to the extracellular matrix of connective tissue.