Collagen, the primary structural protein in our connective tissues, constitutes the largest portion of body proteins. It forms from amino acids and is present in skin, cartilage, bones, tendons, and ligaments. Proactively addressing collagen depletion not only promotes glowing skin but also contributes to overall structural and bone health. Recognising signs of dullness and wrinkles, maintaining a suitable diet along with necessary supplements can significantly enhance long-term skin and body well-being.
Happiest Health lists out a few ways to boost collagen.
Protect your skin from UV damage
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun can accelerate collagen breakdown and cause skin damage. This can cause premature ageing, wrinkles, and an increased risk of skin cancer.
“It is essential to use sunscreen with a broad-spectrum SPF, wear protective clothing, and seek shade to minimise UV exposure and protect your skin,” says Dr Ramdas, senior dermatologist, Kamineni Hospitals, Hyderabad.
Smoking accelerates skin ageing by diminishing collagen. Nicotine in tobacco constricts blood vessels, leading to reduced blood flow and insufficient oxygen and nutrients. According to Dr Ramdas, these processes collectively break down collagen, impair its renewal, and decrease collagen production, resulting in wrinkles, fine lines, and sagging skin. Smoking also dehydrates the skin, exacerbating the appearance of ageing signs.
A 2007 review done by Akimichi Morita, published in Journal of dermatological science shows that smoking disrupts the body’s ability to make collagen, promotes the production of harmful substances, and speeds up the destruction of essential skin proteins, resulting in skin damage and ageing.
Use skincare products with retinoids
Retinoids, such as retinol, are a type of vitamin A and are well-established for their skin-rejuvenating properties and one of the ways to boost collagen.
“They can stimulate collagen production, increase skin cell turnover, and improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles,” says Dr Ramdas. It is essential to use retinoids as directed by a dermatologist and to protect your skin from UV damage when using them.
A 2006 research paper published in Clinical Interventions in Aging says that skin ageing involves two types: intrinsic ageing (a natural process), and photoageing (premature ageing due to UV exposure). Retinoids, like tretinoin, are promising for treating ageing and improving collagen production.
Proper hydration is important for overall health, including skin health. While staying well-hydrated will not directly boost collagen production, it can help maintain skin elasticity and keep the skin looking plump and healthy. “Dehydrated skin can appear dull and may develop fine lines more easily,” warns Dr Ramdas.
Foods for collagen production
Maintaining healthy skin involves incorporating skin-friendly foods into your diet. Dr Ramdas lists out a few foods and their benefits for collagen production.
Rich in omega-3 fatty acids helps maintain skin integrity. It also promotes a youthful appearance and combats dryness.
- Citrus fruits (e.g: oranges, grapefruits)
High in vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that aids collagen production for skin elasticity and helps protect the skin from environmental damage.
- Dark leafy greens (e.g: spinach, kale)
Packed with vitamins A, C, and K, as well as folate and iron. These nutrients contribute to overall skin health by promoting collagen synthesis, reducing inflammation, and supporting the skin’s natural repair processes.
A good source of vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps protect the skin from oxidative stress. Almonds also provide healthy fats, fibre, and protein, contributing to skin hydration, elasticity, and overall well-being.
- Bone broth
Contains collagen, which is rich in amino acids like proline and glycine. Collagen is essential for skin structure, promoting elasticity and hydration.