We all know that a healthy diet and some positive lifestyle choices can help to promote collagen production, but have you ever wondered what causes a loss of collagen within our bodies?
An important protein that acts as the building blocks of our skin, joints and countless other parts of our bodies, collagen, unfortunately, can be damaged or its production hindered, leading to fine lines and wrinkles, sagging, dull and lacklustre skin.
Read on to discover what causes a loss of collagen...
Although some exposure to the sun is important for maintaining adequate Vitamin D levels, too many rays can result in damage to the collagen within our skin. With frequent exposure, the levels of collagen within our skin decline, with one study finding that the amount of collagen in sun damaged skin is as much as 20% lower than that of skin that had not been regularly exposed to the sun. Lower levels of collagen can lead to more fine lines and wrinkles in the skin—some of the physical signs of extended sun damage that we all know best.
Too Much Sugar
It’s well known that excess sugar can negatively impact our health, leading to weight gain, type 2 diabetes and other health complications, but it’s also been found to cause damage to the collagen within our skin. Following the consumption of sugar, our bodies undergo a natural process known as glycation, which leads to the creation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs). AGEs damage the collagen within our bodies by attaching themselves to healthy molecules, leaving them weak and brittle. The more sugar consumed, the higher the number of AGEs form, leading to increased collagen damage.
The nicotine found in tobacco restricts blood vessels, hindering the delivery of oxygen and key nutrients to the skin, while exposure to the thousands of chemicals contained within cigarettes can cause collagen loss. Smokers have also been found to experience a lower rate of collagen synthesis when compared to non-smokers, with one study showing that the production of Type 1 collagen was reduced by 18%, while Type III was lowered by as much as 22%. While this does affect the appearance of the skin, it can also impact the healing of wounds, with smokers requiring more time to heal after injury and surgery as a result of impeded collagen production.
As we get older, our bodies produce less collagen, which is why wrinkles, joint pain and muscle weakness become more commonplace as we age. A strong correlation also exists between the onset of menopause and a reduction in collagen production in women. Although there’s not much that we can do to stop the process of ageing, positive lifestyle changes and a diet rich with collagen-promoting vitamins and minerals may help to delay the effects.
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Curious about collagen? Carla explains why this popular protein so important for skin health...