Collagen has been the beauty buzzword on every skin experts’ lips for years now. It’s the most abundant protein in our bodies – specifically in our skin, tendons, ligaments and other connective tissue- it’s basically the glue that keeps us together.
But from our mid-twenties, natural collagen production begins to slow down which As with this natural decline, hair starts to grey, skin wrinkles and nails become weaker.
Enter the ingestible collagen revolution. Top of the deck is Aussie beauty brand Vida Glow, who spent years working on a successful formula. For them success looks like firm skin, thick hair and strong nails – all of the good stuff that keeps us looking young and feeling great
The powder formula comes in delicious fruit blends like peach, mango and blueberry, and was designed to be taken on-the-go. Could this really be the fountain of youth…in sachet form?
We spoke to dietitian and co-founder of Health & Performance Collective, Chloe Mcleod, and skin guru, Dr. Michele Squire, about what’s really going on when it comes to collagen supplements and Vida Glow’s best-selling Natural Marine Collagen to see what all the fuss is about.
What even is collagen and why do I need it?
“Collagen is a protein made up of three amino acids; glycine, proline and hydroxyproline” explained accredited dietitian, Chloe McLeod. With three commonly researched types of collagen found in the body, McLeod broke them down for us. “Of the three types: type one gives skin its firmness; type two makes up our movable joints; and the third gives tissue its elasticity.”
She went on to explain that while some foods do contain collagen, for example bone broth, this is in a different form to collagen supplements, so is not as readily absorbed.
“The dose required is also harder to measure, due to varying quantities of collagen being found in bone broth. An overall healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits, veggies, wholegrains, nuts and seeds is important for skin health overall. Consuming vitamin C rich foods helps with increasing collagen formation, as well as reducing oxidative stress. This, along with regular supplementation of collagen is the most effective way of boosting collagen stores and reducing breakdown.”
Skincare guru and scientist Dr. Michele Squires weighed in, “The truth is that dietary collagen must first be broken down in the gut into its component parts – tiny collagen peptides and amino acids – the parts of the collagen molecule that the body actually uses.”
Even with the best intentions, “None of us eat a 100% healthy diet every day, and we may not absorb all the nutrients optimally either, especially as we age. So dietary collagen is an unreliable source, geared more towards basic nutritional adequacy, rather than optimal skin health.”
“Collagen supplements don’t contain dietary collagen but rather a concentrated and reliable dose of tiny collagen peptides and amino acids, already in their absorbable – broken down – form.”
So what’s the deal with marine collagen?
Chloe explained that marine based collagen supplements like Vida Glow are extensively hydrolysed, making the particle size of the collagen very small. “Clinical studies have shown once marine collagen is ingested, it is absorbed and distributed by the bloodstream via blood vessels to the dermis, the deeper layer of the skin.”
In this study, collagen peptides moved to where they were intended, rather than simply being digested and absorbed. The addition of the collagen supplement to the existing pool of collagen in the body further stimulates natural production of collagen in the body as well.
“Vida Glow marine collagen is highly bioavailable due to the extensive process of hydrolysing the collagen goes through, to ensure absorption and use is maximised.” Meaning the body can easily break down and absorb marine collagen due to its low molecular weight.
Dr Squires agreed, “Good collagen supplements, like Vida Glow, contain tiny peptides two to four Kilodaltons in size that are soluble, tasteless and bioactive. When deciding on a collagen supplement, look for one containing highly purified collagen from a sustainable source, so you can take the minimum dosage and still get results and a high concentration of the collagen-rich amino acids proline and hydroxyproline.”
When, and why, would I start taking collagen?
The answers are; now and if you want to look younger longer.
“There are 2 types of aging – intrinsic and extrinsic,” said Squires. “Intrinsic aging simply results from the passage of time. It is genetically-programmed, and results in changes that slow cell function, causing them to become less responsive. For women, hormones (especially oestrogen) play a big part in intrinsic aging.”
“In normal circumstances, oestrogen binds to receptors on skin cells to promote collagen and hyaluronic acid production, amongst other beneficial functions. Although we know there are dramatic skin changes from collagen and hyaluronic acid loss around menopause, oestrogen production actually peaks in our mid-to-late 20s, declines to 50% by age 50, then bottoms out post-menopause.” Basically, collagen loss starts much earlier than many people think.
Then there’s extrinsic aging, which is a result of external lifestyle factors; sun exposure, smoking, pollution, diet and stress. Of these, the most important aging factor is damage caused by chronic UV exposure – also called ‘photodamage’ or ‘photoaging’.
“Around 90% of the changes we see in aged skin – rough, dry, deeply wrinkled, saggy skin with uneven texture and tone, and broken vessels – are caused by the sun,” the good doctor said. “From a collagen perspective, UV radiation upregulates hormones in the skin that break down collagen and elastin, contributing to deeper wrinkles and saggy skin.”
She also said that how deeply you’re affected by this can also be down to where you live, and guess what? Australia may be the worst place to be, skin-wise. “ A 2018 study showed Australian women reported deeper facial lines and enhanced volume loss in tear troughs and nasolabial folds than women from Canada, the UK and USA. Australian women also reported moderate to severe signs of ageing 10-20 years earlier than their US counterparts.”
Doctor Squires continued, “So from a prevention perspective, it’s never too soon to start thinking about preventing collagen loss. Collagen supplements, combined with a great skincare routine and proper sun protection are a winning strategy.”
“I have used many different types of collagen supplements over many years as part of my overall skin health strategy! I’m a huge fan of Vida Glow as their products are scientifically sound, but are also palatable and dissolve completely in liquid – I actually enjoy taking them.”