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Collagen – Are You Getting Enough?

Collagen – Are You Getting Enough? Part II of III

Welcome to our second post about collagen. In our first installment, we examined what collagen is and the functions it performs in our bodies. As promised, this story looks into why its production declines as we age and how to assess whether your body is producing enough.

Our bodies are continuously making and breaking down collagen. Collagen, as we previously learned, is a protein and proteins, like carbohydrates and other nifty macromolecules, are always being used for various purposes and replaced. When we eat protein, our bodies break it down into amino acids. These amino acids are used to create protein like collagen.

This process slows as we age. When we’re young, our bodies are in hyper-drive producing more than enough collagen. But during our 20s, our bodies start using more collagen than what we’re producing. While there is nothing that can be done about aging (and we should be grateful for the privilege!), there are external factors that affect our bodies’ ability to produce the protein. Those include:

Sun damage: Repeated and prolonged exposure to the sun increases enzymes like collagenase MMP-9, which breaks down collagen. This can lead to premature wrinkling and other visible signs of skin damage.

Smoking: We know smoking is bad for you – it’s also bad for your skin. It can make collagenase skyrocket, leading to premature loss of collagen.

Excessive exercise: Exercising in moderation is key! Over exercising can lead to an over-production of the hormone cortisol which studies show speed up the breakdown of collagen and elastin.

So, how do we know if we’re producing enough collagen?

If your health is good, then you are likely producing enough collagen. But as we age, we will notice changes in our skin, bruising easier, and slower healing. This is all due to a slow-down of collagen production. Not only that, but the collagen we do have is less organized and there are less fibrous packets of the stuff in our bodies to plump, protect our blood vessels, and travel to wound sites.

In our third and final blog exploring collagen, we will look at ways to increase its production. Stay tuned!