Life Extension Magazine®
Woman wearing sun-hat with boosted collagen for skin support

Collagen for Smoother Skin and Stronger Nails

Collagen provides vital structural support for skin and nails.

Scientifically reviewed by: Dr. Gary Gonzalez, MD, in May 2022. Written by: Michael Downey.

Collagen is the main protein in all connective tissue in humans.

It’s crucial for the health of our skin and nails.

With age and sun exposure, our production of collagen declines.1

The results are visible. Skin sags, develops wrinkles, and becomes marred by cellulite. Nails grow brittle and crack more easily.

To solve this problem, scientists developed collagen peptides that, when taken orally, stimulate the body to produce new collagen.

In clinical studies, these oral collagen peptides:2-5

  • Reduce the volume of eye wrinkles by 20%,
  • Increase skin elasticity by an average of 7%,
  • Reduce cellulite scores by 9%, and
  • Decrease nail breakage by 42%.

Our Body’s Glue

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. The word collagen comes from the Greek word kola, meaning “glue,” and it is essentially the glue that holds the body together.

It’s the main component of most connective tissues, such as tendons and muscle.

Collagen makes up 70% of the subsurface layer of the skin by weight.6 It is vital for skin cohesion, firmness, and resilience.7,8

It also provides flexibility and is integrated with fibers of elastin, the protein that allows the skin to stretch and return to its original shape.

Collagen Drops with Age

Close up of woman's face with collagen formula

Aging has a devastating effect on collagen production.

At around age 25, the cells that produce collagen fibers slow down. The remaining fibers can stiffen, break, and lose shape. Elastin fibers also begin to fray and lose elasticity.

From then on, adults lose about 1% of their skin collagen each year.9 After several decades, you may have lost half the skin collagen you had at age 18.9,10

Collagen decline accelerates even faster in women after menopause. Smoking, high blood sugar, and sun exposure also decrease collagen levels.11-15

The result of collagen loss is visible skin aging, including thinning, sagging, and wrinkles. 9,10

But this doesn’t have to be inevitable.

Peptides Stimulate New Collagen

Collagen peptides are short chains of amino acids that provide the building blocks for collagen.

In animal studies, scientists showed that hydrolyzed (or partially broken-down) collagen peptides boosted the creation and activity of collagen. This produces stronger, more supple skin.16

These collagen peptides also reduce the activity of an enzyme (metalloproteinase 2) that degrades collagen and hastens skin aging.16

Taken orally, these peptides stimulate the production of new collagen and elastin in the skin.2

Human trials have demonstrated that an oral collagen peptide is effective in improving skin appearance.2,3

Reduced Skin Wrinkles

Researchers conducted a series of human trials to test the effects of these collagen peptides on skin and nails.

In one clinical study, scientists gave oral collagen peptides to 114 women, aged 45 to 65, in daily doses of 2.5 grams.2

After four weeks, the volume of eye wrinkles in the collagen group had decreased by 7.2%, compared with placebo recipients.2

After eight weeks, those taking collagen peptides showed a stunning 20.1% reduction in the volume of eye wrinkles.2

This research team also measured the structural proteins in the women’s dermal matrix, the structural framework responsible for skin renewal and vitality. The more proteins, the healthier and more youthful the skin appears.2

The study found that subjects taking collagen had a 65% increase in essential type-I pro-collagen and an 18% increase in elastin fibers.

Increased Skin Elasticity

Smiling woman on beach with sun-hat

In another study, scientists tested the effect of collagen peptides on skin elasticity. This is the skin’s ability to stretch and bounce back, rather than sagging.

One group of volunteers received 2.5 grams of oral collagen peptides daily, a second group received 5 grams daily, and a third received a placebo.

After eight weeks, both groups taking the collagen had an average 7% improvement in skin elasticity.3

This improvement in skin elasticity was even greater in women over age 49.3

Remarkably, a treatment subgroup of elderly women still retained higher elasticity than the placebo group four weeks after the last dose was taken.3

Erasing Cellulite

Collagen was next tested on cellulite, the “orange peel” appearance of skin.

Cellulite is caused by fat under the skin bulging into the dermis due to collagen loss and the resulting matrix breakdown.

Restoring dermal architecture can decrease the appearance of cellulite by lessening the amount of fat showing through the skin.

Scientists enlisted 105 women, aged 25 to 50, with visible cellulite. One group received 2.5 grams of oral collagen peptides daily. A second group received a placebo.4

After six months, collagen reduced cellulite by 9% and decreased thigh-skin waviness by 11.1%, compared to the placebo.4

Using ultrasound scans of the skin, the researchers noted an evident improvement in dermal density in those who took the peptides. This indicates that the oral collagen helped restore the normal structure of the skin’s layers.4

What you need to know

Oral Collagen Builds Healthier Skin and Nails

  1. Collagen supports connective tissue throughout the body. It keeps skin smooth, elastic, and youthful looking. It also helps keep nails strong and healthy.
  2. Starting at around age 25, collagen production decreases by about 1% per year. This loss of collagen leads to wrinkles, sagging skin, cellulite, and brittle nails.
  3. Collagen peptides improve skin elasticity, reduce the size of eye wrinkles by as much as 20%, and improve the appearance of cellulite.
  4. These oral peptides also decrease nail brittleness, reducing breaks by 42% and restoring normal nail growth rate.

Stronger, Healthier Nails

Woman showing off hands with healthier nails

Loss of collagen doesn’t just affect the skin. It also results in brittle, ragged nails.

In a human trial, 25 healthy women, ages 18 to 50, were given 2.5 grams of collagen peptides once daily for 24 weeks.5

The collagen peptides decreased the frequency of nail breakage by 42%. They also reduced nail peeling and nail-edge irregularity, and increased the nail growth rate by 12%.5

Overall, 64% of participants had an improvement in nail brittleness. Four weeks after treatment stopped, the benefits were even more pronounced, with 88% of participants showing significant improvement in nail brittleness.5

A whopping 80% of participants agreed that the collagen treatment improved their nails’ appearance and expressed complete satisfaction with the results.5

Along with the studies on skin, this result confirms that oral collagen peptides can improve the appearance and health of skin and nails.

Summary

After about age 25, we begin to produce less collagen.

Over time, collagen loss results in wrinkled, sagging skin, cellulite, and brittle, breakable nails.

Collagen peptides can boost the synthesis of new collagen and elastin.

Clinical trials show that these peptides decrease eye wrinkle size by 20%, increase skin elasticity, reduce cellulite, and strengthen nails.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Wellness Specialist at 1-866-864-3027.

References

  1. Varani J, Dame MK, Rittie L, et al. Decreased collagen production in chronologically aged skin: roles of age-dependent alteration in fibroblast function and defective mechanical stimulation. Am J Pathol. 2006 Jun;168(6):1861-8.
  2. Proksch E, Schunck M, Zague V, et al. Oral intake of specific bioactive collagen peptides reduces skin wrinkles and increases dermal matrix synthesis. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2014;27(3):113-9.
  3. Proksch E, Segger D, Degwert J, et al. Oral supplementation of specific collagen peptides has beneficial effects on human skin physiology: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2014;27(1):47-55.
  4. Schunck M, Zague V, Oesser S, et al. Dietary Supplementation with Specific Collagen Peptides Has a Body Mass Index-Dependent Beneficial Effect on Cellulite Morphology. J Med Food. 2015 Dec;18(12):1340-8.
  5. Hexsel D, Zague V, Schunck M, et al. Oral supplementation with specific bioactive collagen peptides improves nail growth and reduces symptoms of brittle nails. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2017 Aug 08.
  6. Available at: https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1294744-overview#showall. Accessed September 16, 2020.
  7. Krieg T, Aumailley M. The extracellular matrix of the dermis: flexible structures with dynamic functions. Exp Dermatol. 2011 Aug;20(8):689-95.
  8. Frantz C, Stewart KM, Weaver VM. The extracellular matrix at a glance. J Cell Sci. 2010 Dec 15;123(Pt 24):4195-200.
  9. Ganceviciene R, Liakou AI, Theodoridis A, et al. Skin anti-aging strategies. Dermatoendocrinol. 2012 Jul 1;4(3):308-19.
  10. Available at: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-does-skin-wrinkle-wit/. Accessed September 16, 2020.
  11. Gautieri A, Passini FS, Silvan U, et al. Advanced glycation end-products: Mechanics of aged collagen from molecule to tissue. Matrix Biol. 2017 May;59:95-108.
  12. Uitto J. The role of elastin and collagen in cutaneous aging: intrinsic aging versus photoexposure. J Drugs Dermatol. 2008 Feb;7(2 Suppl):s12-6.
  13. Danby FW. Nutrition and aging skin: sugar and glycation. Clin Dermatol. 2010 Jul-Aug;28(4):409-11.
  14. Knuutinen A, Kokkonen N, Risteli J, et al. Smoking affects collagen synthesis and extracellular matrix turnover in human skin. Br J Dermatol. 2002 Apr;146(4):588-94.
  15. Bosch R, Philips N, Suarez-Perez JA, et al. Mechanisms of Photoaging and Cutaneous Photocarcinogenesis, and Photoprotective Strategies with Phytochemicals. Antioxidants (Basel). 2015 Mar 26;4(2):248-68.
  16. Zague V, de Freitas V, da Costa Rosa M, et al. Collagen hydrolysate intake increases skin collagen expression and suppresses matrix metalloproteinase 2 activity. J Med Food. 2011 Jun;14(6):618-24.